Marriage is hard work. The reality that we’re broken people becomes very apparent when we share our lives with someone else. We bring our unique personalities into the marriage, but we also bring our selfish nature.
Frustration, friction, disagreements–they are all certain to show up, but the way we react to these issues and obstacles shapes not only our character, but the strength and the intimacy of our marriage.
As much as we lead with love toward our spouse, we must also lead with grace and forgiveness.
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9
Forgiveness lies at the heart of marriage. Two people living together, day by day, stumbling over each other’s beings, are bound to cause pain, sometimes innocently, sometimes not. And if forgiveness is not given to cleanse the marriage soul, condemnation hovers over the relationship. Resentment piles on top of resentment until we blame our partners not just for their wrongdoing, but also for our failure to forgive them.
This is a red-light danger zone. Human forgiveness was never designed to be given on a grand scale. Forgiveness in marriage can only heal when the focus is on what our spouses do, not on who they are. Partners forgive best for specific acts. Trying to forgive carte blanche is silly. Nobody can do it but God.
We overload the circuits of forgiveness when we try to forgive our partner for not being the sort of partner we want him or her to be. There are other means for coping with this: courage, empathy, patience, hope. But for mere human beings, forgiveness in the grand manner must be left for God. For it is God’s forgiveness that empowers our ability to forgive the relatively small things–which is no minor miracle in itself.
When we forgive a partner, we are revealing God’s love to him or her, free from condemnation. Human forgiveness magnifies divine forgiveness. A truly intimate marriage can be built upon a strong foundation of grace and forgiveness.