4 Habits that Lead a Husband and Wife to Forgiveness
Some people are horn honkers and personally I don’t like it. If someone isn’t driving the way that they should be, they might lean on the horn.
Especially at drive-thrus.
People are desperate to get their coffee, and I know better than to get in their way.
I don’t use the horn, but I’m not perfect either. I just vent in my own way. I tend to say, “I wish I said this…” and “I wish I said that…”
Those are the light things in life, but sometimes real hurt runs deep. As a result, many of us are struggling with the concept of, “forgive and forget.”
The other day I was faced with this question, “I struggle with vindictiveness… How I can overcome it?”
Since I recently wrote a book on the topic of virtue, it struck a familiar chord.
There are many principles that we regard as important, and moral actions that we believe we should take. Those are values. Virtue however is when we put the things that we value into action.
I value exercise, but I’m not exercising the virtue of self control until I actually get up off my butt and make changes.
If we want to live a victorious life that is free of anger and strife, we need to exercise the virtues of kindness, forgiveness, and grace. It doesn’t come easy at first, nor is it habitual until step-by-step we start building those proverbial muscles.
Children are born selfish and demanding. Oh, they’re adorable, but when they want something–they want it now! It’s not in our nature to share toys, to patiently wait for our food, or to put up with discomfort. We were trained day by day. Our parents have shown us what is good and how to behave. Some better than others.
We all have areas in which we’re still growing, and we still need that training day by day. It’s so much easier to accept the fact that we’re vindictive, or impatient, or grumpy than it is to make changes in those areas. Isn’t it?
I’m sure we all feel vindictive at times. Just this past weekend Michael told me something that I didn’t like, and it set me off. I stomped around for about 45 minutes until I finally swallowed my pride and let go of my anger. A better woman would have let go of her anger immediately by choosing patience and grace.
Here’s the thing. We need to train our thoughts by taking them captive before they take root–not 45 minutes later. Argue with them. Recite scripture. Demand that they leave. Don’t let them stay around.
(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; – 2 Corinthians 10:4-5
We’re not saved because we’re perfect in any way, we’re saved through faith by the grace of a merciful Saviour. And what does He ask of us? To extend that same kind of mercy and grace to each other.
Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. – Ephesians 4:31-32
When someone causes us pain, it hurts; and in most cases it’s humiliating. We justify our anger to balance the scale.
But here’s the thing. Don’t let their sin define your character. If it does, then they have taken something away from you.
Remember Jesus on the cross when He said, “Lord forgive them for they know not what they do!”
That is a winning statement. It shows us that we serve a powerful God who was in control of His emotions at all times. They crucified His body, but they couldn’t crucify His soul. He had the power to lay down his life and to take it again.
Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. – John 10:17-18
Humility is strength under control. It’s not weakness. God has given us the power to lay down our life for another, and when we do that, we bring glory to Him. Don’t ever let yourself think for a minute that you’re weak if you are forgiving and kind or if you repay evil with good. That’s where your true strength lies.
When I’m angry at Michael and all I want to do is hang on to that anger, there are four habits that always get me on track:
1. Prayer – Acknowledge your pain and bring it to prayer. In many cases, your pain is justified. Forgiving doesn’t mean that you weren’t hurt, it just means that you won’t let it define you. Ask God to take the burden away from you and to give you the wisdom and strength to forgive.
2. Humility – Living right will bring you so much further than being right ever will. Don’t be afraid to walk in forgiveness and grace. Remind yourself that humility is a powerful choice to serve God and that forgiveness is one of the strongest steps you can take.
3. Wisdom – Forgiving someone doesn’t mean that you excuse their behavior. In some cases you must put boundaries in place. Use wisdom in doing so. Search the scriptures, and if you’re still unsure of how to handle your situation, seek wise Christian counseling from someone like your pastor.
4. Kindness – Don’t use your words as ammunition. Don’t say things that are unkind to them or about them. Gossip can seem harmless, but it’s destructive behavior. In Ephesians chapter four Paul tells us to be tenderhearted toward others. Therefore we must do what we can to soften our hearts and to love as Christ loved.
You are loved by an almighty God,
The Time-Warp Wife
Check out my book, The Virtuous Life of a Christ-Centered Wife: 18 Powerful Lessons for Personal Growth.