** and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. ** Ephesians 4:32
Even if you are not married, this post can help you in any relationship you are involved in. Forgiveness is not exclusive to a marriage relationship. I am going to be honest though. Forgiving is one of the hardest tasks that God gives us. It is so much easier to hold a grudge and desire vengeance for those that hurt us. It is natural and human to want to see another person pay for the things they have done. When someone inflicts pain we want to lash out. We want them to get their just desserts. We want to hate. We want to keep them as far out of our circle as we can get them. So, learning about forgiveness at any level will help all of us have healthier interactions with those around us.
But approaching our marriage relationship or any relationship with ideas or reactions of hate and resentment will only be the beginning of the end. Going into marriage or a friendship with a mental list of all the things that are unforgivable will only assure it’s failure. But if we have the mindset that anything and everything can be forgiven with God’s help we will have lasting relationships on every level. Because God is the author and source of forgiveness and He is an expert at it and He wants to teach us how to forgive the little things and the big things.
Any new skill we want to learn is approached in small portions. If we want to learn a language, we start with the A,B, C’s and simple vocabulary and verbs. We build on simple foundations and increase our learning and understanding over time. So it is with forgiveness.
If our spouse or friend comes home today and tells us that he/she has completely betrayed our marriage and we have not gone through the easy A, B, C lessons of forgiveness before this revealing day, there is no way that our marriage or any relationship will survive the fallout of this betrayal.
But if we practice everyday forgiving for small mistakes and shortcomings, we will be expert forgivers should the unthinkable happen. Let’s look at it in practical terms.
What are some little things we can forgive today?
Does your spouse leave their socks on the floor instead of putting them in the laundry? Forgive him/her and love them anyway.
Does your spouse spend too much time at work? Forgive them and love them anyway, but have a peaceful and meaningful conversation about it.
Does your spouse find fault with your clothing and hairstyle? Forgive this little thing, be content with who you are and move on.
Does your spouse burn the toast every time? Forgive them and make your own toast.
Does your spouse flirt with someone other than you? Forgive them and have a real heart to heart conversation with them to find out why they do it. Now pray for them that the Lord will open their eyes to the pain they cause and the damage it is doing to your relationship.
Does your spouse forget to do the things on the list that you gave them to do? Forgive them. Throw away the list and give them just one thing to do and don’t give them another thing to do until they do that one thing. Some people shut down when the list is too long. One step. One thing. Forgive them for not having the same priorities that you have.
We can add to this list all day long.
What are the little things in your marriage/friendship that need to be forgiven? If they are big things, then practice some little ones first. It will exercise your spiritual forgiveness muscles and make you stronger so that you can forgive the bigger, and more hurtful things.
As humans, we are experts at making mountains out of molehills, and straining at gnats and swallowing camels. We all need to learn what is little and has little importance and is easy to forgive. We need to know how to prioritize our lives and our little hurts. Having fits over laundry, decorations, or how many tomatoes are in the salad are a waste of time and love.
We can learn to forgive and forget the small stuff. We can learn to walk together through the bigger stuff and find ways to communicate better and love one another unconditionally. Like God does with us. He loves us in spite of all of our little quirks, our personality flaws, and most importantly, He loves us in spite of our big sins. And He has forgiven us for all of it. But it came at a great price. He died so we could be forgiven.
If one’s marriage/friendship hits a really rough spot, it may take some serious sacrifices from both partners to get past it and to truly forgive each other. It will take time, counsel, and courage to get to the other side of the pain. But it can be done. Anything can be forgiven. But we need to be willing to put in the time and effort to get it done and to lean hard into the One who has forgiven us.
Forgiving is for grown-ups. For those who want to get past their own shortcomings and love others in spite of theirs. Forgiving is for those who want to truly be more like Christ.