This Life

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]

John 16:33 (Amplified Bible, Classic Edition)

Sometimes I just sit back and ask myself “what is this life?” The hours that we spend pouring over our work, fretting over our children, standing over the stove (that’s not too many hours for me, but in any case), picking up toys and clothes, watering flowers, hanging shelves, caressing faces, and kissing lips.

This life is the very thing we cling to, the very thing we fight for-to live it on our own terms–how we want, when we want, and in the fashion that we choose. This life is the very thing that we grieve when we see another young brother lose at the hands of the police, or multiple people lose at the hands of a stranger or disgruntled co-worker.

This life is both beautiful and terrible. Joyful and painful. Awesome and all-consuming. It is filled with uncertainty and predictability all at once. And the sheer weight of this reality is what draws me to Jesus each day.

It is comforting to know that Jesus acknowledges this daily tension that we experience. He told us that we would have troubles and challenges. He never shied away from that reality. But he promised to be there through it all, and give us the peace and confidence to walk through that tension, to both yield to it and mold it and bend it and make it all our own.

Jesus’ assurance to us that he has deprived the world of its power to harm isn’t a promise of a pain-free life. That would be in direct contradiction to what he said in the same breath–that we would face hard times. But belief in Him and his power and glory snatches away this world’s ability to take our hope. And if we remain hopeful, then our harm is never permanent.

I worry about my son and my husband as I watch them leave the house. I think about their potential interactions with police and am so suddenly aware of the striking fragility of their existence. But then I rememeber the promise of Jesus’ peace. I think about the work emails, phone calls, motions and briefs and wonder how it will ever all be done. But then I remember the Lord’s peace. I think about the huge responsibilty I have been given in raising these little humans, and being the best life partner I can be to their father (to be clear, I mean my husband. He doesn’t like to be called “baby daddy.”).

When I think about all the things that make this life so beautiful and hard all at the same time, I get anxious and worry. But then I remember Jesus’ peace– one that stills all fears, calms all anxieties, and quells all doubts. A peace that is promised to us, and one that I intend to grab hold of with all of my might, each day that I live this beautiful, amazing, terrifying, wonderful life.

Acting Like a Child

“Why aren’t these kids listening to me,” I wondered aloud, as I marched up the steps to figure out why, after being told ten minutes ago to put their pajamas on, my son was running around with his underwear on his head and my daughter was twirling around in nothing but her pink ballerina tutu. “My night would be so much smoother if they listened to me,” I thought.

And then the thought struck me: how many times had God thought the same thing about us? The answer is clear if we take a look in the book of Psalm:

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Do not be like the horse or the mule,
    which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
    or they will not come to you.
                                                                           ~Psalm 32:8 – 9

Here is God’s promise to give us direction for our lives–if we are willing to be obedient. This scripture reminds me so much of my kids. Like, why I gotta ride you like a horse to get you to do what I’ve been asking you to do? And I get so frustrated with my kids sometimes, but in reality, I know God has felt the same way about me so many times over.

So why don’t my kids listen? (This is as much therapy for me as it is talking about God).

  1. They want to do things their own way. Even though their parents know what’s best for them, and, in fact, want what’s best for them, they think they know better and want to do it their own way.
  2. Their way is easier and takes less hassle. Why neatly place toys in the toy box when it’s much easier to chuck them halfway across the room and see how loud of a sound they make as they hit the wall? It makes more sense to do it their way. And if they can do less work, then it will take them less time to get back to the stuff that they really want to do. So they take short cuts, or half do the job instead of taking the time to do the job right and in the exact way their parents are asking, or in the way it should be done.
  3. Mom and dad don’t understand how taxing the thing they’re asking them to do really is. And surely if they understood how hard it actually is to pick up all of the toys and put them back in the toy basket, then surely, mom and dad wouldn’t ask them to do such a thing.
  4. They’re afraid. How many times have they pleaded not to have to go upstairs by themselves at night because it’s dark? They can’t see in the dark so they’re afraid of heading in the direction that their parents told them to go.

Need I go on? How many times in life do we act like our children, or younger nieces and nephews, or other young kids we know? What has God been prompting you to do that you have just been absolutely dragging your feet about? Do you think you know better than God? Is it easier to do it your way? Are you afraid?

And I’m not even talking about some big life-changing event like leaving your job. Let’s be clear: I am not telling you to leave your job. The Lord didn’t say that–at least not through me. Don’t put that on me. What I am saying is that each day presents opportunities to follow God’s prompting in the small things: helping someone carry something heavy, stopping to talk to the one co-worker you know nobody really likes, calling that relative or friend with whom you’ve been trying to improve your relationship. Whatever it is, don’t ignore God’s prompting and direction. Let’s let others see a little of God in us each day. We do that by obeying God and obeying his promptings. Please, for the true love of God, don’t be like my kids.

A Little Help with Self-Discipline

 

Red and White Alarm Clock Displaying 9:11

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

~Philippians 2:13  (New Living Translation)

If the above is true, why, then, do I race out of the front door every morning, my little Prius roaring down the street, just barely getting my kids to school and my own tail to work on time?! If it were just an occasional tardiness then, that would be one thing, but every morning? Really, Whitney?

The alarm goes off. I hit snooze repeatedly until it’s too late. I may or may not curse as I finally tear off the covers realizing the time and that (surprise!) I’m behind schedule. I grab hangers from the closet, throwing clothes on the bed, hurriedly trying to find something to wear. All the while, I’m cursing myself for not picking picking out my clothes the night before.

I’m barking orders at the kids, simultaneously snipping at their heels and sending them to time out because they’re distracting each other from getting dressed and just not moving fast enough.

I finally make it to the kitchen where I quickly abandon any hope I had of packing my lunch, again annoyed at myself for spending money on lunch that I could have saved had I taken the time to pack my lunch the night before. I ultimately end up shoving a bag of apple slices in my kids’ hands as we tumble out the door on the way to school and work.

Surely, God in his omnipotence can help me change this all-too-common scene at my house. And I know I can’t be the only one, right? Don’t you have the one thing, or maybe multiple things, that you do over and over that you don’t want to? You tell yourself that this time you’re absolutely NOT going to do that thing and then BAM!, you do the thing.

I am comforted by the fact that this doesn’t just seem to be a me problem because even Paul, the great apostle, wrote “For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate, I do.” (Romans 7:14). So what do we do with us? How do we change our behavior? What do we do with our great propensity to be, well, human? Paul says God is the answer. God gives us both the desire AND the power to do God-pleasing things–like be on time.

Like pretty much everything else in my life, I find that I can’t quite get it right without Jesus. I find that when I focus my prayers and specifically ask for power in an area like this, the Lord sends help–and in different ways too. Shortly after I started praying about this issue, I noticed I would often start waking up a little before my alarm went off. And because of my work commute, my husband and I now take a kid a piece in the morning, so I only have one school drop off in the morning instead of two.

Of course, it’s still up to me to get moving in the mornings. As with any change that we want to make in our lives, we are ultimately responsible for taking action. But I’m glad that God can add his super to my natural and both strengthen my desire and ability to finally get it right. He gives us both the desire AND the power to do what pleases him. I’m so glad.

The Fruit of the Spirit: Because Who Doesn’t Like Oranges?

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

~Galatians 5:22 -23

“Ms. Gibbs, you’re not really trying to help me. You keep saying the same thing over and over. You don’t hear me. You’re not really for me; you’re not trying to help me at all.”

I took a deep breath, and admittedly, and equally deep eye roll as I sat in my office, looking despondently at the phone, trying to figure out how to respond to my client’s comments coming through my speaker phone.

It’s not that I haven’t heard these comments before. These types of comments are, unfortunately, everyday speak in the world of the public defender.  Often, clients think that because we don’t require client payment for our services, public defenders just collect a check and don’t do any work. Which, let me tell you, is just not the case.

After a comment like this from a client, I usually stop to break it all down. I may explain that yes, I am a real lawyer, and no, I’m not in cahoots with the prosecutor, and that if my only aim was to screw up my client’s life, I wouldn’t be taking the time to talk at length with him or her about the case. There would be more to that conversation, but I’ll spare you the often frustrating and highly repetitive nature of these types of talks. You’re welcome.

I’m usually quite patient with clients, realizing that in a lot of ways, taking the time out to have this seemingly inevitable conversation, in the end, helps build client trust. On this particular day, though, I was feeling tired, overworked and was just really not trying to hear all that. Like, at all.

This is where the fruit of the Spirit should have kicked in–you know, love, joy, peace and patience, especially. I wish I could say that I ended that phone call with the client reassured and with a clear plan for moving forward in the case. The call didn’t quite end that way; that’s reality sometimes. The attorney-client relationship with that particular client is still a work in progress. But that whole scene did make me think about the fruit of the Spirit that the Apostle Paul talks about in Galatians.

Funny thing about fruit, it takes time to cultivate, to grow.  Clearly, I’m no farmer, but thinking generally about how fruit grows–it requires work.  We have to make sure we have good soil, plant seeds, water them, and wait as they grow.  Not only that, but we have to tend to fruit as it grows, pruning the tree or vine, just to make sure that the fruit can fully ripen. The whole process takes a long time. But at the end, it’s so satisfying to bite into a juicy red-yellow Gala apple, or pop a few green grapes into your mouth. And don’t forget the Halos, those  little Mandarin oranges. Those are a running favorite in my house.

Isn’t it funny though, that in this chapter (Galatians 5), the fruit of the Spirit is contrasted with “acts of the sinful nature?” That term “sinful nature” sounds like religious-speak to me, making it more challenging to understand. But if you look at the actions or activities that the writer Paul calls the “sinful nature,” the commonality between those things is acting in a way that feels good to you, at the expense of someone else. A fit of rage may feel good to a person because they’re getting all of their anger out, but it wreaks havoc on the receivers of that rage. And “acts” take not time at all to complete compared to growing fruit.

In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit appear to have more of an outward focus.  Running down the list of the fruit,  a lot of those things require quelling an initial, self-centered impulse, and choosing a response that benefits someone else. If we think about kindness, goodness and faithfulness, for example, they usually involve how we treat other people.

Paul warns that living this way, practicing the fruit of the Spirit, is not easy. He tells us that our selfish nature clashes with our Spirit-centered nature, so that a lot of times we don’t do what we know we should do (Galatians 5:17). But we keep trying anyway, because that leads to a better outcome for others, and ultimately a better outcome for ourselves.   Who says “I don’t want to be lovely, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and self-disciplined?” No one.

I know the next client rant can’t be too far around the corner. Next time I’ll be ready. I might even eat an apple during the call, just to remind myself. No, that would be bad manners–chewing in a client’s ear.  When your next opportunity to show the fruit of the Spirit presents itself, will you be ready? The next time that rude, inconsiderate person gets on your nerves or says something offensive, smile to yourself and think watermelon, apples, grapes, Halos (see what I did there?) and give a response that would make your heavenly Father proud.

 

 

 

Patience

We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope[b] for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)   ~Romans 8: 24-25

“Ugh, it’s hard to wait!” my three-year-old whined from the back seat. “I know, buddy. We still have a little while to go. Wanna listen to some music?” I asked.

This refrain has often been my son’s dramatic response to so many things in his little life. On this particular day, I was driving him and his sister to my parents’ house, about an hour away. He let out this little cry of frustration about 15 minutes into the ride. “Oh, this is gonna be fun,” I thought to myself.

And while I have yet come up with a kid-friendly way to say “Son, remember how in Romans Chapter 8 God instructs us to wait patiently? Do that and shut it!” I can, thankfully, remind myself of this very principle when I get antsy, and whine to God about how hard it is to wait.

Ah, waiting. It’s the virtuous thing to do, right? Delayed gratification is a sign of maturity, they say. Good things come to those who wait, they say. “Yeah, right,” I say. Waiting is hard work. Waiting is especially hard when you feel like you’ve prepared, you’ve done your part and you’re waiting on God to make or reveal a pathway to the thing that you want.

You could be waiting to find just the right house to move into, or the right person to date, or the right job offer, or the right time to have kids (girl, don’t rush it!) The truth is, it’s a challenging task to continuously pray and wait for God’s perfect timing.

But that’s exactly what the Lord instructs us to do. In the passage above, Paul is talking about waiting for the second coming of Jesus, but surely, this principle applies to waiting for anything we are anxious and ready to receive.

If we don’t have the thing we’ve been praying for, we wait patiently–and confidently–for God to respond. And good thing we don’t have to do this on our own. If God instructs us to wait patiently on him, surely he will help us to follow his instructions. So our prayer becomes “God, this is the thing I truly desire. I pray for it AND I also pray for the patience to wait on your timing.”  (We also need to be sure that the thing we’re praying for is what God truly wants for us, but that’s another post!)

Ultimately, we have to remember that God loves us (1 John 4:10), He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7) and He has an ultimate plan for us (Ephesians 2:10). He’s not some spiteful Dad toying with our emotions, just refusing to give us the things for which we ask. He’s a good Father who can see farther than we can and knows more than we do. We trust Him in the waiting, knowing that all of his plans for us are good (Jeremiah 29:11).

 

On Current Events

It is difficult to be Black in America. I don’t presume to speak for all Black people, but I know how I feel. To face lethal hatred and racism on an individualized level (Travon Martin, Eric Garner, Jordan Davis, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile…) and to also face that same lethal hatred and racism en masse in enraged white faces in the dark of night, lit by torches evoking the lynch mobs that extinguished so many of my people before me—it is just too much.  To be able to draw parallels regarding the treatment of Black people from  1917 to 2017 is just simply unreal and more than any one person, anyone people, should have to bear.

To wake up each day and determine that you will be the best version of yourself in a city, state, a country that seems to want to mute your very existence—this is a heavy thing. To turn on the evening news and have to explain the terms “mob” “hate” and “race” to your four year old is painful. To have to tell her that people hate her because of who she is and how she looks—that’s utter agony.

But I can’t stay in this place. I push forward. I keep fighting.  The only reason I exist today is because my ancestors did the same. And I owe it to them, I owe to my children, to my people to continue to be my best self and stand up and give a voice to the voiceless and bring hope and restoration to broken places.

And no, hope and restoration may not come in the form of a grand speech in front of millions of people, or even martyrdom. But I know that I can push forward, show love, and bring  hope in my daily life: in the legal representation that I give to people, in the way I teach my children to love themselves no matter what anyone else says about them, in my utter refusal to hate people who hate me. I will continue to move forward, to press forward. I will continue to show love. That is my Father’s will—for us to love one another as He loves us. And as I pray daily, let my Father’s will be done.

A Sweet Exchange

 

matthew-11-28

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”  

~Matthew 11:28-30 NLT

Last weekend, my friends and I had a “Mommy’s Day Out.” So. Much. Fun. We hung out together for the better part of Saturday afternoon and on into Sunday.  Hanging out included going to a Mexican restaurant for an early dinner. When we arrived, the restaurant was crowded and the wait time was long, so we decided to eat at the bar.

As we sat chatting and waiting for our food and drinks, I noticed a couple sitting next to us. They were quietly talking, kissing and seemingly enjoying themselves as well. And then they got up to leave. The girlfriend got up with ease, but the boyfriend got up and almost immediately fell over onto my friend. He grasped for the high seat back, and then rocked too far forward as he tried to overcorrect. This guy was drawing attention to himself as he tried desperately to steady himself. As he was trying to catch his balance, he told his girlfriend, standing next to him, “I’m not OK.” And I’m thinking, “dude, you are more than just ‘not ok.'”

As the couple walked away, I judgmentally rolled my eyes. It was about 5:00 pm at this point.  Like seriously, the evening had barely started and this guy was lit. Toasted.  Sloshed. The craziest aspect of the whole scene was that the guy was so quiet and indistinct before he tried to leave. I acted disgusted for a few more minutes as I pondered this guy’s situation and then carried on with the rest of dinner.

I didn’t think about that guy again until the following night, as I was deep in a, shall we say, heated exchange with my husband about a specific issue. I was completely exasperated and frustrated. All of this emotion had built up inside of me and I felt like I was just about to explode with anger.  And then I thought to myself “I’m not OK.”

Our conversation ended and I went upstairs to my bedroom. I closed the door and opened the Bible. Soon I found Jesus staring back at me from the book of Mark, beckoning me to come and tell him about what was on my mind.

My husband wasn’t the real issue. After praying and thinking, I realized that I had had such a good time with my girlfriends, that it really kind of magnified for me just how stressed I had been and how much I needed a break, even just a short one. The issue with my husband was just the symptom. He’d been doing a really great job of sharing the collective load of juggling jobs, kids and household maintenance. But sometimes life can still be stressful and pressure-filled, even with your partner right beside you.

I was not OK and I didn’t need to tell my husband about it, I needed to decompress and tell Jesus about it. So there I was, the same person who had so quickly doled out judgment on someone else, kneeling at my bedside, uttering those same words to the Lord. In all my busyness and stress and watching other people, I hadn’t taken the time to locate my own feelings and read up on what Jesus had to say about them. In the past few weeks, I hadn’t really taken concentrated time to pray and tell God what was going on in my day to day. I took the time that night though, and it was great. It was what I needed. I gave Jesus my burdens that night.

And the funny thing is, nothing about my daily life changed– the demands of being a wife, mom, attorney, daughter, they were all still there. But man, did I have peace after that time with Jesus. His burden really is light–if I take the time to exchange it for mine. And even in the week after that episode, I still struggled to find the time to devote solely to Jesus, but that devotional time that I did have was a reminder of why and just how much I need him. He can bear the burdens of this fast-paced, filled-to-the-brim life. He will give me rest for my soul as I walk out this life day by day. And I’m more than OK with that.

 

 

Graphic Credit: dailylifeverse.com

Better Than “Eat, Pray, Love”?

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Philippians 4:5-9 NLT

I never read the book (or saw the movie) Eat, Pray, Love. I actually recently took a poll with some of my friends to ask if it was worth the listen on Audible. I have to admit that even now, ten years after it was first published, the title still entices me. Any memoir that instructs me to eat, pray and love to find a better life, I’m here for it. Reading through Philippians, though, I stumbled across what I consider to be Paul’s formula for living a God-filled (read, fantastic) life: Pray, Think, Do.

Pray

In Philippians 4:5-7, Paul is writing to the church at Philippi, giving them instructions on how to conduct themselves in his absence. He encourages them that God is near and that they don’t have to worry or be overly anxious about their lives. And neither should we. We should pray instead, he says, giving thanks for what we have and asking God for what we want and need. When we do this, we can expect the peace of God to envelop us. So the first step is to pray. “God, I thank you for blessing me with two wonderful kids. I pray that you would help me figure out how to make them go to sleep at bedtime without having to bribe them with promises of breakfast treats in the morning. Amen.” Ah, I feel the peace coming now.

Think

Then, in Philippians 4:8, Paul instructs the church on how they should be thinking.  If something is true, noble, right and pure, he says, then they should think about that thing. I admittedly add my own interpretive spin to this portion of Paul’s writing.  In the plan for living, I think Paul’s directive on our thoughts also means that we should think, as in formulate a plan of action, for our lives or a specific area of our life that we have been praying to God about. Here is our second instruction: think. Because my kids take so freakin’ long to fall asleep, maybe I should put them down earlier, so they still get a decent amount of sleep at night. This may very well be easier said than done, but remember, I’m still thinking here.

Do

And then finally, in Philippians 4:9, Paul admonishes the church at Philippi that whatever they have learned from him–whether they saw him do it or heard him say it, they should follow his godly example and do those things, too. Thus, we have our third and final instruction: Do. It’s taking everything in me not to insert some corny line that includes the Nike slogan, so let’s just move right right along, shall we? The most important part of the equation (according to James 1:22-25), we have to follow through on the plan that we created while we were thinking. We have to act. Tomorrow evening I won’t scroll through my IG feed while running the kids’ bath water or warming up their food. I will not lock myself in the bathroom (where they can’t get to me) so that I can rummage through my FB feed in peace. I will have a focused, streamlined evening routine so that the children can get their little tails in the bed earlier.

And there you have it: Pray, Think, Do. Thanks Paul. And also, Jesus. (This example may or may not have been taken from my real life. All names and references were changed to protect the innocent. But not really.)

Parenting 101

 

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow. . .   ~Romans 8:38 NLT

 

“Okay guys, I’m going to get dressed really quickly and then we’re going to get read–” I stopped mid-sentence because I had reached out, placed my hand on the brass doorknob to my bedroom only to find that the doorknob wouldn’t give in either direction and the door was tightly shut.

“You’ve gotta be kidding me,” I said out loud, to no one in particular. I stared blankly at the white door in front of me, in utter disbelief.   My kids and I had just finished an arts and crafts project leaving us with exactly one hour to get dressed, round up our things and arrive on time to a birthday party that started in exactly two hours.  I had left extra room in the schedule to stop and get a gift on our way to the party. And I was trying to be better about being on time because I’m usually not on time, especially if I’m traveling with the kids, and now one of my beloved children had locked me out of my bedroom derailing my whole timeline, not to mention my sanity.

I looked down to the bottom of the staircase where my two year old grinned up at me. “Mommy, I locked the door!” he proudly exclaimed. In that moment, I felt so much rage, it seemed almost unnatural. He was smiling with that toddler look that I think all toddlers must teach each other–that look that says “I know I wasn’t supposed to do that but I’m so cute and innocent-looking in this moment, you wouldn’t dare unleash the fury that you really feel because you love me, and also did I mention that I’m cute?”  I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.

Fast forward four hours later (and throw in a locksmith, the quickest shower known to man, and scooping up of children, one under each arm), and I am at the party with my kids, having a good time. And no, we did not make it on time. But we weren’t terribly late and there I was pushing that same two year old in a miniature car across the lawn. He was having a blast, which made me smile and I gave him an extra little tickle, because after all, he really is just so cute.

In that moment, I thought about God. I wondered how many times I had locked him out his bedroom, metaphorically speaking, and how many times he had closed his eyes and taken a deep breath. In that moment I silently and quickly thanked him for being a good, good father. He’s a father who loves me, despite my mistakes. And his posture towards me, towards us, is never one of guilt or shaming. Our Father loves us, and there is nothing that we could ever do that would stop him from loving us or wanting the best for us. That kind of love is awesome.

Just think about your child, or your niece or nephew, or even a younger sibling, and how much you love that person, and would do just about anything for him or her. If we’re human and imperfect, how much more amazing is the love that God has for us, his children? We don’t ever have to wonder if God wants to bless us with an amazing life (John 10:10) or use us to help make someone else’s life a little more amazing (Matthew 7:12). Of course he does. He’s a good, good father and we are loved by him.

 

Love (and some other stuff ) Is Enough

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1 Corinthians 13:1-8 (NIV)

“Love is patient,” Paul writes, “love is kind.” (v. 4). But Paul, “Love” just left the toilet seat up for the one hundredth time! “[Love] keeps no record of wrongs,” he says (v. 5). Clearly, Paul has never experienced the feeling that comes over you upon discovering that “Love” has eaten up all the snacks and left the pantry empty, right at the very time you get the urge to munch on something.

1 Corinthians 13 sounds so good in theory. It’s read at so many weddings as a sacred reminder of the commitment that the (usually) naive and unsuspecting couple are making to one another. Paul makes love sound so noble–and it is. It is also painful.

Fulfilling this scripture, continually applying the healing ointment of love over the scabs, bruises, and sometimes even gashes, that arise in a marriage is hard work. It’s not flowery and poetic. Loving someone for real often means doing the hard work of loving them through their faults and allowing them to do the same for you.

One thing that I’ve learned in this married life is that if love is an ointment, then forgiveness is the band-aid. Every married person will offend or hurt their spouse at some point; that’s just the nature of being in a relationship. You’re two different people trying to live one shared life. There are bound to be hurt feelings. Hurt feelings though, if they’re stockpiled and not healed by forgiveness, create blockage.

In talking to my therapist (yup, I have one), I realized that I hadn’t fully forgiven my husband for some of the hurts I’ve experienced over the course of our marriage. What struck me most is that I realized that I was stubbornly and willfully choosing not to forgive. I have been choosing to hold on to my hurt and nurse it because that’s the safe thing to do. There is no risk involved in keeping my husband at arm’s length because of my hurt feelings.

But alas, love is a risk (just ask Jesus). If I let go of my hurt and truly forgive (which is a command from the Lord, by the way), then I fully open my heart back up to my husband again.  This full and open heart allows me to give and receive full and open love, but it also essentially places me in a position of vulnerability again. As risky and intimidating as this vulnerability may seem, this is what the God requires of me if I am choosing to stay in this marriage and be the wife the Lord has called me to be.

And when forgiving seems like it’s just too hard, or like I really just don’t want to do it, I need only to remember Jesus. Ah, my buddy Jesus, who loves me through my faults and forgives me repeatedly for my offenses toward him. If he can do it, then so can I.

Jesus is patient, he is kind. He does not envy, he does not boast, he is not proud. He is not rude, he is not self-seeking, he is not easily angered, he keeps no record of wrongs. He does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. He never fails. In this life, in our marriages, love (and forgiveness and Jesus) is enough.

 

Image Credit: Susan Adams