The first fight I can remember with my wife was over a misplaced pair of tickets to a New York Mets baseball game.
I’m generally the more forgetful member of the family, so it shouldn’t have come as a shock to me that I’d be the accused. But this time I wasn’t having it. I felt disrespected, and my normally easy-going manner went into hiding along with the tickets.
“What? Is your memory perfect?” I said. “How do you know you didn’t lose them? Why do you assume this is my fault?”
Before long, the fun afternoon we had planned began to feel like eating a bad hot dog.
How we respond in moments like these make all the difference in a marriage.
For most of us, forgiving feels like something is being pried from us: our justice, our sense of self, our dignity. (Because forgiveness requires loads of humility.) Like the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:21-35), the offense someone has caused looms large and unforgivable.
But forgiveness isn’t saying what the other person did was just, nor is it bypassing accountability for the offender.
It’s a choice to bless in the face of an insult, like Jesus did for us; to continue pursuit of a loving relationship when we want to wash our hands of the other person. It’s a choice not to dwell on the offense. Instead, forgiveness opts to see a person as more than the sum of their errors.
Forgiven people forgive people. And the more we internalize the magnitude of how much we’ve been forgiven? The more those Mets tickets (or the equivalent) are eclipsed by mercy.
After a frantic search around the house, we eventually found the tickets. As it turned out, I was the one who had misplaced them!
At that point, my wife had a choice. She could let our fight ruin the afternoon, or she could remember the forgiveness that Christ had given her and offer that same forgiveness to me. She chose the latter.
I don’t remember who won the game, but I do remember this: On that day, we both won.
For more on forgiveness read “What It Means to Forgive” by Winston T. Smith on FamilyLife.com.
THE GOOD STUFF: … forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)
ACTION POINTS: If you were to think about one area in which you haven’t forgiven your spouse—or need to choose forgiveness again—what would it be? What stands in the way of your choice to forgive? Is it worth sacrificing the forgiveness you’ve been granted? (See Matthew 6:15.)
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