You know the old saying, “To err is human and to forgive divine?” Well, that’s certainly been a truth that was lost on me for many years. In fact, I fell more into the “Oprah Camp” that said, “Listen to your heart or feelings.” But when I did this early on in my marriage, it spelled nothing but trouble!
In fact, by the time my own children came along, I began to realize the ridiculousness behind this belief. After all, when my kids were young, they were the first ones to listen to their feelings. I, on the other hand, as the adult had to choose very often to do what I didn’t feel like doing—calm their tantrums, change their stinky diapers, wake-up at midnight to feed them, etc.
However when it came to my husband and his offenses and difficult behavior, I was blind to my own inconsistency. I often chose to act more like my children and let my feelings determine my attitude and behavior whenever he hurt me.
After all, forgiving him for hurting me often felt disingenuous or insincere. I even reasoned in some distorted psychological way, that I would also be “enabling” him if I let him off the hook without a constant dose of condemnation to help him see the error of his ways.
It wasn’t until I went through a study on forgiveness that was based on Christ’s example and words that I realized I was missing the mark.
[Tweet “If I waited until I felt like forgiving my husband, I would rarely if ever forgive him. #forgive”]
And where would that leave our relationship? Most likely in divorce court!
The words of Christ remind us that we must first realize how much we need His forgiveness and grace, so we have no right to withhold it from anyone else. Remember the parable of the unmerciful servant? If not, check it out in Matthew 18:21-35.
[Tweet “I came to realize that my sin is no less ugly to Christ than my spouse’s. #weallneedmercy”]
But another factor emerged from my study on forgiveness. If I continue to rely only on my feelings to motivate me to forgive whenever I’m angry or hurt, I will not see the need. Emotions—especially when overwhelming—can blind us to what is truly our need and our offender’s need.
The answer is to turn my anger and hurt over to Christ who is the only One who can comfort and protect me—not my husband. To expect my husband to calm my fears in those heated moments is to put way too much pressure on his weak, human shoulders.
But Christ gives us an added bonus after we’ve turned to Him with our fears and hurts. He gives us the ability to extend mercy and grace even when we don’t feel like forgiving our spouses. We are in those moments giving to our mates as unto Christ.
Just picture Jesus on the receiving end of every act and attitude of grace you extend to your spouse!
Our forgiveness then becomes an expression of our gratitude for the abundant gift of mercy, comfort, healing, protection that Christ gives each one of us. To do otherwise is nothing short of slapping Jesus in the face, since He gave His life for us!
So the next time you don’t feel like forgiving your spouse, just remember:
- Your sin and need for Christ’s forgiveness is no less than your spouse’s
- Your desire to forgive should extend out of your love and gratefulness to Christ