One of the gusty winds people often feel in marriage has to do with a heart growing cold out of a need to forgive a mate. I was there in that frigid place many years ago and still find myself tempted to return to that icy and unforgiving place whenever my husband hurts me.
Because I know how desolate and painful that place can be, I’ve learned it is never a place I want to return to. So I guard against that tendency whenever I am offended.
And let me just say . . .
[bctt tweet=”My marriage is less messy these days, but my hubby and I still hurt one another. #humanshurt” username=”BethSteffaniak”]
So . . .
[bctt tweet=”We desperately need to practice the ABC’s of Forgiveness. #BacktoSchool #Marriage” username=”BethSteffaniak”]
What are the ABC’s of forgiveness?
“A” stands for “Acknowledge the Hurt and Loss.”
You might think that the Bible teaches to “overlook an offense” and it DOES in Proverbs 19:11. But that’s only a piece of the process, since the Bible also teaches how very much truth is necessary to release ourselves from the impact of other’s sins committed against us.
For example, in Luke 17:3 it says,
“So watch yourselves. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.”
And in Matthew 18:15 it says,
“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.”
In both cases, the Bible encourages a truth-filled conversation with an offender.
Does this mean you must tell every person who offends you the truth of what he/she did against you?
Not necessarily, since many offenses can be acknowledged to the Lord and forgiven in the confines of our hearts.
However, in marriage there is a greater and continual need to be transparent with one another. Otherwise, our closeness and intimacy suffers—resulting in the formation of walls and distance in marriage.
Part of moving forward in forgiveness is being able to admit to ourselves, and the Lord, what we feel about the hurt and loss. Jesus longs to be our Comforter in those painful moments.
Practical Step – Write out a prayer telling Jesus about the pain you feel. Ask for His comfort and perspective in this hurtful moment of your marriage.
“B” stands for “Be Brokenhearted.”
This might seem like a no-brainer. If someone has hurt us, it typically breaks our hearts in many ways. But there is more than meets the eye to being “broken” here.
I’m talking about recognizing our own individual brokenness as sinners who offend and break other people’s hearts and, most importantly, break the Lord’s heart.
There’s a story in Mt. 18:32-35 that tells of a king who pardoned a servant who owed him an “impossible-to-pay-back” sum. Then that same servant went away and had another person, who owed him a minuscule amount, hauled away to jail to get back every dime he was owed.
That story tells us (Christ-followers, in particular) that we can NEVER withhold forgiveness from others, since the Lord (our King) died in order to forgive a lifetime of the sins we’ve committed against Him.
We, as humans, are all guilty and therefore cannot withhold mercy from anyone else. #James3:2
Practical Step – Ask the Lord to reveal any sins you’ve committed that are similar to the ones your offender has committed against you. Also, remember the excruciating death that Jesus suffered to offer you forgiveness and mercy. This realization will most certainly shift your perspective. On to the next step . . .
“C” stands for “Cancel the Debt.”
When your spouse (or other offender) hurt you, there was a loss. No doubt about it!
So you have a choice to either be a victim of this person’s hateful actions—letting them determine your attitude, choices and circumstances moving forward . . .
You can surrender to the Lord the offense—cancelling that debt on the spot. It is then that Christ can bring comfort, peace and healing to your wounds. #exchangepainforpeace
Practical step – Prayerfully surrender to the Lord your offender (spouse or someone else) and the loss you experienced at their hands. Then receive His comfort and healing—remembering Psalm 34:18, as you do.
One final word: This one area in marriage when left unresolved is the single greatest reason a marriage grows cold. So pay close attention to any areas of resentment you are harboring and deal with it quickly and responsibly!
Next week I’ve got a special guest and sweet friend—Ngina Otiende—sharing about her new book, The Wedding Night, with a giveaway and some other special offers available! Yay! So I know you’ll want to come on back for that!
Click on the link to go to other posts in this “Back to School Series—7 Lessons on Learning to Love Well When the Winds of Marriage Grow Colder.”
Which part of this process is or has been hardest for you?
What hesitancies do you have about forgiving your spouse (or other offender)?
Be sure to scroll down below to comment!
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