Hello, dear and amazing friends. I hope you are doing well today – that you are finding life and joy in Christ and in your marriages. I know there are many of you who are on a journey of finding that life, and I want you to know I am praying for you right now. Praying peace over your hearts and health to the painful places in your soul. May God grant you grace, insight, and wholeness. May you find friendship, counsel, a shoulder to cry on and wisdom for the many decisions in front of you.
I have recently been pondering the subject of forgiveness, and thinking about how much we have to forgive our spouse in the journey of marriage. I think we should change our wedding vows to say something along the lines of “To have, hold and forgive from this day forward…” Because isn’t that so much more a part of marriage than you ever thought it would be?
I don’t know about you, but I didn’t get a teaching on forgiveness in my pre-marital counseling, and I could have used it. Oh, I knew we would have petty disagreements, but that’s not what I am talking about here. I am talking about the heart-wrenching, completely devastating experiences in marriage that leave you spinning. I am talking about the wounds we cause each other with our words and actions that cut deep, and take time to heal. Forgiveness in that arena isn’t quite as easy as when my sweet little one spills their milk and quickly says “Sorry Mama!”
A few weeks ago I heard a description of forgiveness that floored me – and I wanted to share it with you, in hopes that it will paint a picture that will help you as it has me.
When your husband (or anyone) wrongs you, it creates a hurt inside of you. That offense tears into your heart, leaving a gap that must be filled in order for you to be whole. And its a gap that can’t be ignored, or we will find ourselves bitter and cynical. And the problem is we can’t just simply say “I forgive you”, and expect those words to magically fill that gap. As many of you know, they don’t.
The hard truth is that forgiveness is most often a choice, and very rarely a feeling. And we are commanded to forgive. So then, how do we do it in a way that carries truth and isn’t just rote words? As Christ-followers, when we say “I forgive you”, what we are saying (in reality) is this:
“You have created a gap in my heart with your words and actions. That gap must be filled in order for me to be whole, and I so desperately need and want to be whole. So I recognize that your sin leaves you in debt to me. You rightly owe me – you rightly must fill the gap you created. I also recognize, however, that this tear in my heart, this hole you created, can never be filled by you. You owe me a debt you cannot pay. And so when I say that I forgive you, I am telling you that I am taking that hole you created, that debt you so rightfully owe me, and I am giving it to Christ. I am choosing to release you of the responsibility for repairing my heart, and I am offering it up instead to the Healer of all wounds. My forgiving you doesn’t erase the hurt. It doesn’t magically fix the gap. My forgiving you doesn’t mean I don’t acknowledge the debt, it just means I am choosing not to hold that debt against you.”
That, my dear sisters, is powerful. That makes forgiveness so much richer and truer than merely pretending like everything is okay. You must acknowledge that the hurt your husband caused you is real. And you need to realize that it may take time for the gap to be filled. But forgiveness releases someone from the rightful requirement of repayment, and gives it to the one who died to pay all debts.
Please hear me in this – forgiveness does not make everything magically okay. There may still be a process of grieving and healing to be walked out. You may need counseling; you may need time; you may need many conversations to help heal the wound. But you aren’t holding your husband hostage to a debt that he was never going to be able to pay.
The process of regaining trust, or healing a marriage, is not the same as the act of forgiveness. We forgive because we have been forgiven. We forgive because it glorifies the God who forgave us. We forgive because we are commanded to. We forgive because we are truly loved and chosen.
Forgiving someone doesn’t mean that the gap in your heart doesn’t exist anymore. It doesn’t even mean that you necessarily will be reconciled to that person (there are many who need to forgive someone who has already passed away). It means that you have released them from the responsibility of paying back their debt.
Dear sisters, I urge you to forgive. I urge you to shame the enemy and reject the world by choosing to walk the narrow path. And I promise you, when you choose to forgive you will find that there is a Healer who can, indeed, work all things for the good of those that love Him and who are called according to His purpose.
Praying for you today. Praying you will recieve the courage to forgive, and the wisdom you need to walk out what the journey of healing looks like for you. It may be as simple as some time with your journal. Or it may take months of counseling, pastoral care and hard descisions.
Pray for me too. Pray today that I would also walk out true forgiveness for people in my life who have hurt me. I am convicted as I write these words that there are still some who I need to release from their debt, and I need the courage to do so.
I cherish being on this journey with you.