I’ve totally forgiven him.
I really have. But, I’m just so angry. Why did I have to endure that pain for so many years?
She continued looking me right in the eye, insisting that she had forgiven her husband (who had humbly asked for forgiveness) while recounting his many infractions.
It goes both ways. Husbands may not be as vocal, but years can pass after we’ve told ourselves and everyone else that we have forgiven, while keeping the situation – whatever it was – as fresh in our minds as the day it happened, even years later.
We’re really good at deceiving ourselves, aren’t we? Sure, we’ve forgiven but, when it comes to remembering grievances, elephants have nothing on husbands and wives. Our memories aren’t just good, they’re more secure than a maximum security prison. If there’s a safe, secure place where grievances will never be lost or tarnished, it’s in the memory prison of a wounded, unforgiving heart where they are kept for instant display.
And, that’s just how Satan likes it – wives and husbands forever keeping in easy reach past grievances that, when brought up yet again, destroy closeness, openness, and joy in marriage.
When we’ve sinned against our spouse we must seek forgiveness – it’s not optional. But neither is it optional to withhold forgiveness when it is sought.
How did holding on to our grievances become more important than walking in fellowship with the person we love? It’s as if we’ve turned our list of grievances into our new best friend.
But those hurts are not your friend. They’re a chain that will keep your spirit bound in the prison of bitterness while securing a barrier between you and your spouse. Are you living this reality, right now?
Just let it go. Release your grasp on those things that “prove” you are right and he/she is wrong. The irony is that you think you “have” these grievances, but the fact is that they have you. Let go. You won’t lose your leverage. You’ll gain your freedom.
Forgiveness is serious business – it’s just not optional for the believer. Jesus said that if you won’t forgive, you won’t be forgiven – Matthew 6:15. This is the very heart of the matter: We need forgiveness, but we can forget this.
Sometimes we’ve spent so much energy on the wrongs others have done (to us) that we discount the wrongs we, ourselves, have done. When we reflect on our own deep need of God’s mercy, it’s easier to stop standing as the judge over our spouse. And, remember that warning from Matthew? Is the chain of unforgiveness worth the price you will pay?
The call for every husband and wife is to be quick – just as quick as God – to forgive. Genuine forgiveness leaves the past in the past, never referencing it again.
How grateful we should be that God extends that mercy to us. How quick we should be to extend it to our spouse.
Matthew Jacobson has been in the book publishing industry for 22 years and is currently the president of Loyal Arts Literary Agency. For the last 10 years, he’s served as a teaching elder in his local Church. Matt and his beautiful bride of 21 years, Lisa, raise their 8 children in the Pacific NW. You can join him at his blog by clicking here:
MatthewLJacobson.com or find Matthew on facebook.
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Check out my book, The Good Wife’s Guide: Embracing Your Role as a Help Meet