Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Marriage Challenge Day 9: Pardon

A few years ago I went through a situation like no other, which I hope I never have to go through again.

I was involved in a leadership role capacity for a particular organization, and although I had planned on the time and energy commitment, I was not at all prepared for the negativity, backlash, vindictiveness, and just plain meanness that ensued from a former leader.

Months went by, with each day bringing new challenges, new shock over things that were taking place, and new frustrations over how my co-worker and I were being treated. The issue got to such an escalated level, which was completely out of my hands to control, that I began losing sleep, becoming anxious and upset, and waking up every day with a feeling of dread about what was going to happen next.

One day I was at the end of my rope, when some seriously harsh words were yelled right in my face, and I just broke down into tears …. for three hours! Obviously that was not a day when I woke up and put on my girl big panties, but even a big girl can get beaten down after a while.

The more it appeared that the situation would not improve, and the worse things got, the angrier I began to get. That anger and resentment and frustration took root in my heart, and with each passing day, my outlook and my spirit waned.

Then one day as I was in prayer, complaining and whining to God, yet again, about this trying situation, my heart became aware that God was speaking, saying, “Tracie, I have called you to forgive; the unforgiveness and bitterness you are holding in your heart, even though you were treated wrongly, is robbing you of the joy that is available through me. Lay it down, forget about it, just love me and I will take care of the rest.”

Then my mind quickly wandered to the verses Roman 8:28 and Jeremiah 29:11, as God prompted me to remember that He had a purpose for my situation, even though I could not see it, did not understand it, and certainly did not like going through it; and secondly, that He also had plans for me that were good, in fact, better than good.

The problem was that while I was drowning in my hurt and self pity and anger and frustration, I lost sight of both of these promises. It wasnt until I laid the problem at His feet and washed my hands, and my heart, of unforgiveness, that I began to make strides toward healing and forgiveness.

Looking back, I am surprised at myself for not seeing what that resentment and unforgiveness was doing to my heart. I now realize that I was not willing to pardon the sins of others, which prevented me from seeing God working in the situation, or teaching me a valuable lesson.

It was then that I realized I had allowed this situation to drain the joy right out of me. I got on my knees in that very moment, and chose to forgive. I am not exaggerating when I say, that immediately, it was as if the weight was lifted, and the chains that Satan had wrapped around my heart, fell to the floor.

You see, I had to pardon the sins of others, so that I could focus on the One who pardoned my own. Eventually, the situation improved. My heart healed, and my joy returned. Forgiveness, and obedience, had set me free, literally.

This experience taught me a great lesson about forgiveness. I cannot begin to tell you how hard it was to forgive that person and a few others who were involved, not just with my mouth, but with my heart. It was only through God that I was able to do that, because nothing in my soul wanted to.

Micah 7:18 says “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.”

The meaning of that verse is simply this: God is God, and we are not.

We are not capable of forgiving, without His power dwelling within us. We cannot show mercy, without His compassion in our hearts. And we can never have the desire to forgive, without His help and intervention in our hearts.

It is hard to offer forgiveness to anyone who hurts us, but it seems especially hard to forgive a husband. Why? Because we love them. We married them. We committed to them. We may have bore their children. We had dreams that included them. We honored them. We trusted them.

So when a husband hurts our feelings or betrays our trust, it cuts deeper than any other - but through forgiveness, the blow does not have to be fatal.

Understanding how hard it is to forgive, but also how necessary it is in order to have a strong marriage relationship, is all the more reason to desperately pursue Christ, as I mentioned yesterday. That pursuits equips up to do things that we are not humanly capable of.

Forgiveness is not for wimps. It takes great strength.... strength that we cannot muster up on own, but strength that is there when we hold up our hands to the One with the strength, and simply ask for it.

God did use that difficult situation to His glory (as always!), and through it He changed my heart. He strengthened my ability to forgive. He helped me to see the toll that unforgiveness can take on our spirits, and our relationships with others and with Christ, not just with the one who hurt us.

He prepared my heart and spirit to be able to forgive my husband when needed, and to recognize the importance that forgiveness would hold for our future as a couple.

Your challenge today is to think of the things that your husband has done that may have hurt you, and then ask yourself if you have truly forgiven him.

If God impresses upon your heart that you are still holding on to unforgiveness, then bow at the feet of your King, and pray with all your heart. Ask God for the strength to forgive him, and then, do it. Not because he deserves it, or even because God tells us to do it, but because of the deadly toll that it will have on our own hearts, and your marriages, in the long run.

Maybe your husband has deeply wounded your heart. Maybe he has betrayed you. Maybe he has an addiction that seems hopeless to overcome. Maybe you just need to forgive your husband for little things, or recent words spoken in anger. But regardless of whether the thorn is big or small, forgiveness is the first step towards reconciliation, restoration, and rekindled love.

Regardless of how big or small the problem is, our God is bigger. Our God is capable. Our God is more powerful than any strongholds. And ftrue orgiveness is only possible, through Him.

I believe that forgiveness brings amazing healing, but not always overnight. It may take days, weeks, even months, of seeking Gods strength to forgive, but eventually, God will heal, hearts will mend, painful memories will fade, and the door will be opened for Jesus to get to work.

When you surrender those big and small hurts to God, and allow Him to fill that gaping hole with love, mercy, and compassion, you will take a huge leap towards rediscovering the joy and happiness that we all long for in life, and in marriage.

Marriage Challenge Day 9: PardonSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend


Angie said...

A wounded, betrayed heart can be a huge thorn. Forgiveness can be easy or sometimes it takes time. But once we say "I forgive you", the resentment still lingers.

This is the seed that Satan will plant and it will grow and grow.

As I start to read Stormie Omartian's book, this is something that has to be taken care of now. She say that we have to have a pure heart. It must be clean before God in order for us to see good results. Having resentment in our hearts will make it difficult seeing answers to our prayers.

I can't move forward as long as I look at the past.

This isn't called a Challenge for no reason!!

Thank you Tracie for this reminder and nudge.

bguido said...

I stopped over yesterday to read the challenge at a point when I could see both #8 and #9 challenges; pursue and pardon. Yesterday as I read challenge #9 I didn't really think anything of it. Today it became apparent as my husband left for the office. He wasn't able to find something and became frustrated. In his frustration, his words weren't very kind. Normally they would have woken up the Italian in me and I would have fired right back and left the conversation with a sour taste and holding it against him. That didn't happen and now, instead of praying for God to take away my anger and change him... oh, and ask for an apology, I am able to pray FOR my husband's work day. Thank you again for this great challenge!

Anonymous said...

Thank you - this is whatI really needed today.
God Bless x

Anonymous said...

Hi All,

A person who keeps on doing the unforgivable things he/she does. time after time.... Your right Angie this isn't called a challenge for no reason.

Thank you Tracie...I am saying this verse throughout my day,..."Rhonda, I have called you to forgive; the unforgiveness and bitterness you are holding in your heart, even though you were treated wrongly, is robbing you of the joy that is available through me. LAY IT DOWN, forget about it, just love me and I will take care of the rest....Not about my husband but a situation of a person whom I'm always trying to see the better side of.

....I have to pardon the sins of him/her so that I can focus on the One who pardons me....Thanks for this reminder today.

...This is going to be tough though because time after time it is the same thing and there is not much left in my soul that wants to.

...LAY IT DOWN!!...Make my heart

Anonymous said...

I am currently working on forgiveness and reading this made things clearer for me. After reading this I prayed (very hard), because I don't want to live in the past hurt. I want to live in the full glory of my marriage that God has in store for us.

You are helping me through God and I'm grateful. So very grateful!!

tammyhelfrich said...

Thank you so much for sharing these challenges. They are so inspiring and I can relate to so many of them! Thank you for doing what you do!