Today I want to look at the difficulty of releasing any hurt or bitterness we feel due to the sins “someone we are trying to reconcile with” may continue to commit against us.
I want to stress, this is for the person who has chosen to forgive an offending spouse, has emotionally and spiritually worked through the often lengthy forgiveness process, and is now working on reconciling with a repentant, yet “flawed and human” spouse/offender.
As you might guess … just because you’re working toward reconciliation, doesn’t mean your spouse will never offend you again. And it may actually sting more because you’ve worked so hard and come so far! But that pain should only remind you that you and your spouse are rebuilding something immensely valuable, albeit very fragile.
I’m going to speak from my own experience as a “sometimes offended” wife
This issue always used to trip me up and sometimes still does. How can I forgive and reconcile (in an emotional sense) with my husband on a particular wounded issue (let’s say, his harsh and angry tone), when he still occasionally does this?
I wonder, am I being an enabler when I forgive him? Or worse, am I a glutton for punishment, if I let my guard down? You can refresh your memory on what to consider in this kind of dilemma at my “Amends What Do They Look Like” post.
But today we’re exploring how we can deal with the fear and bitterness that comes creeping back in our hearts when our spouses re-offend accidentally or even intentionally.
Here’s the short answer – We forgive as Jesus forgave us.
“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” -Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV)*
[Tweet “We have no right as redeemed followers of Christ to withhold what has not been withheld from us!”]
So when I struggle to let go of my bitterness or hurt, I pray and ask God to give me eyes to see how I’ve offended and sinned against Jesus, my Savior. This immediately brings perspective to my distorted thoughts and feelings. It enables me to humbly stand alongside my offending hubby and extend to him the gift of mercy and grace that has been extended to me from God.
You may think … is it really that simple?
If you’ve come this far in the reconciliation process … then “yes,” I think it is! That’s because ultimately …
[Tweet “Christ’s sacrifice for our sins is the great equalizer.“]
Does this mean you shouldn’t address the re-offense? No! Quite the opposite! In fact, if you’ve allowed Christ to alter your perspective through the lens of His forgiveness for you, then you are now ready to “graciously” address the re-offense. Now you are able to lock arms with your spouse and confront the “issue” instead of condemning your spouse.
Let me be clear, if the re-offense you’ve experienced is a “deal-breaker” such as, infidelity (in all forms) or abuse, then an intervention with a counselor is absolutely necessary! When your spouse commits or recommits a sin to that degree, you will have to reevaluate with your counselor whether reconciliation is possible at this point.
What fears or concerns do you have about extending forgiveness in this sense to your spouse or repeat offender?
What has helped you to let your bitterness and fear go in a wounded relationship?
Check out last week’s post in this series from the perspective of the offender – “One Attitude Keeping Us from Reoffending.”
*This doesn’t mean that we lose our salvation if we don’t forgive, but it does mean we hinder our relationship with God when we hold on to our anger and bitterness.
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