My church has been doing a series that deals with God’s redemption in the midst of brokenness. And one of the main focuses has been on forgiveness.
I’ve done a lot of study and spent a lot of time trying to understand and exercise forgiveness in my life and marriage over the years. That is, in part, because during the early days of my marriage I was so bogged down by resentment. In fact, I feel one of the contributing factors to the development of my chronic disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, was the smoldering resentment I feasted on in those days.
That resentment was part of what made my marriage messy.
And thankfully, it’s also what God has used to open my eyes to my need to forgive and release the pain to Him.
But here I am, still pondering and not completely certain of how forgiveness works in some situations.
Now, I know how to choose to forgive. I know how to empathize with my offender. I know how to process through my hurts. I know how to grieve them. I even know how to maintain a forgiving spirit …
But what I don’t always know is when I should grasp grace and reject boundary setting (or truth telling) in a relationship.
Don’t get me wrong—I know that healthy boundaries are a good thing. But sometimes I feel God’s nudge to surrender it all to Him and let Him handle it.
For example, if my husband does something that I feel is hurtful or offensive, the “counselor” side of me would want to talk that issue through—to gain greater clarity. And what happens when you talk it through, even if you do it in the most gentle and gracious way? I think it puts the focus on the wrong committed, the offender, and the requirement for correction.
That may sound well and good when you’re all hot and bothered but then, if you’re like me, sometimes you hear God whisper …
“This needs grace, not correction.”
I’m not saying that we should let our spouses take advantage of us by not addressing our hurts. Believe me, I’m not afraid to set a boundary or confront my spouse. My husband, Gary will tell you, “Far from it!” I’m just wondering if it would heal the hurt more deeply, if we applied a healing salve instead of doing major surgery all the time.
What would happen if we quit worrying so much about our own feelings and instead set out to protect our spouses’ feelings—by trusting fully in God’s power to protect us?
I know that “grace” can be abused. But I’m not talking here about enabling our spouses’ bad behavior. That’s because I know my spouse is fully aware (and yours may be too) of certain matters that we’ve discussed “ad nauseam,” and yet my hubby hears and feels God’s conviction much stronger and clearer when it comes from God and not from my human mouth.
So maybe I don’t have to know when to grasp grace, after all. Maybe God is the One who will show me how to be like Christ—being the kind of spouse who’s known more for my kindness and mercy, than my need for justice and retribution.