When they put out those cute cards at weddings or bridal showers, asking for advice, I always write the same thing. Be quick to forgive.
He’s human. I’m human. We say stupid things—accidentally, of course. He can be an insensitive clout. I can stick my foot in my mouth faster than you can breathe. We’re going to crush each other’s spirits sometimes. It’s sad, but true.
So, in relationships—especially marriage—we must keep reminding ourselves to be quick to forgive. Not just to say the words. Really mean them. If we're not quick to forgive, we can ask God to heal our un-forgiveness.
When I pause for a second to consider what God has forgiven me of, how can I hold something against someone else?
But, what if, one day, God shines a spotlight on your heart—He’s really good at doing that—and suddenly you realize there’s a hurt tearing a little bit inside you each time you think of that awful thing your husband—or someone in your past—did? What then?
Saying “I forgive, I forgive, I forgive” like a mantra isn’t going to help. Well, you can try it. But, from experience, I can say it doesn’t help.
I’ve heard forgiveness—like love—is a choice. But there are some things that seem bigger than us. Like hurt. Especially hurts we’ve held onto—even unknowingly. Sometimes we make an agreement with our hurt. I’m entitled to be angry. He doesn’t deserve my forgiveness. He needs to pay. When the truth is, we’re the ones paying, because we’re clinging to our pain, nursing it, even rejoicing in past wounds to keep them alive, so we never forget.
I’m not minimizing your pain. Awful things do happen to good people. And I hurt with you over any hurts or losses in your life.
When God showed me I hadn’t forgiven someone in my past, it surprised me, because I thought I had. But now that He'd brought it to light, I knew it was time for me to let His healing begin. Of course, I needed to face it, and ask God to forgive me for holding something against someone, when He'd forgiven me of so much. In a moment, our Lord can erase hurt and loss and pain faster than any remedy humans can invent. It was like heavenly oil pouring over my soul. Un-forgiveness was a sneaky, cancerous wound, and I needed the fire of the Holy Spirit to consume the sin and make me whole. And He did.
There’s such a relief when someone forgives me. And I’ve experienced the sweetest peace when God in His love brought forgiveness to my own aching heart. It was all His work. A miracle of healing as great as any restoration of physical health.
Forgiveness can happen in a moment or it can be a journey. The first step is allowing God's love and healing to pour over us. In Him is true peace--and a forgiveness that goes way beyond our own understanding.
"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Eph. 4:32
(I’ll continue my journey-to-publishing topic next time.)
Check out Mary's new book "Winter's Past".