I remember hearing my pastor at many different wedding ceremonies that he officiated say, “Marriage is the union of two GREAT forgivers!” The first time I heard him say that it caught my attention! I asked myself if that was true of me.
Every relationship has storms, disappointments, failures, challenges, AND lots of opportunities to FORGIVE! I think that as long as there are people involved in relationships, it is safe to say that there will be those opportunities to assume the worst about them rather than believe the best about them...but it takes a resolve in our hearts to do that. This is one of the many ways that we can show love! After all, isn’t that the way that we want to be treated?
I have been married to my husband for 38 years! That is a LONG time! It’s so easy to look at pictures of our wedding, family, and other special times where we were smiling because there was a camera and assume that we have owned our vows to one another perfectly! But just like a picture shows only a moment in time that we want to remember - it doesn’t tell the whole story.
I don’t have a picture or a video of our most recent disagreements, but those times do exist! I will tell you that those moments DO contribute to the happy pictures that are easier to share! While no one likes the idea of struggles, they are the things that help to shape us, teach us, humble us, and build strength of character into the fabric of our lives and relationships.
In our most recent “character-building moment”, I could see that Scott was wrestling with something from the moment he walked in the door from work. After we had dinner, he was quiet and distant. I decided to give him space to process whatever was on his mind and went about doing the laundry and cleaning the house. After awhile, I asked him if he was ok. He shared what was on his mind and expressed some disappointment at something that I didn’t do that he thought that I should have. At that moment, I felt the tension turn on in me and I wanted to defend myself (which showed me that I was offended)! So I apologized and went back to what I was doing.
As I started to process what had just happened, I realized that what he was bothered by was NOT me. I felt the Holy Spirit saying to me, “It’s not about you! Don’t make it about you! PRAY FOR HIM!”
The truth is, I was not the source of Scott’s issue - I was a safe place for him to vent. While I could have reacted by firing back, I was reminded by the Holy Spirit that he did not need my FEELINGS to dictate my reaction! He needed me to fight FOR him and the issue he was really dealing with, in prayer. He didn’t ask forgiveness. He didn’t need to. I was able to give it - no strings attached. As I think about it, he has done the same thing for me more times than I can count!
I learned that if it’s not about me, to not make it about me! Here are some things that may help you when you find yourself in a similar situation:
STOP when you recognize the need to defend yourself - you might have taken offense when there really wasn’t any intended.
Ask questions about what the real issue is to show concern and support.
Give them space to process.
Pray for and find ways to encourage them.
The next time (and there will be a next time :-)) that you are facing a challenge, disappointment, or failure in your marriage or other relationship:
-If it isn’t about you, don’t make it about you!
-Leave your feelings out of it and pray for the other person!
-Be a GREAT forgiver!
Understand that sometimes we are the final thing at the end of a bad day (I call them character-building days) that can push them over the edge. It may not have been anything that we said or did, but just that we are the ones who know them best and are a safe place for them to begin to process the real issue.
As we put this to work, it will come back to us when we are the ones needing forgiveness and someone to fight for us!