I love my wife… She is fun, interesting, unique and all around just a really great person to be around. We laugh together, share inside jokes, enjoy a ton of the same things, and over the years, 12 to be exact, God has truly knit our hearts together. Its great to look back on a decision I made years ago and feel like, “yeah, I made a really good decision when I chose to join my life with this person.” I feel like I am part of a small percentage of men that really enjoys being married, who finds more joy in my marriage relationship than any other. I have never, ever felt chained up or confined, but freed and energized by the unique investments she makes in my character. All that is great, but there is really one thing that sets my wife apart in my eyes. There is one thing that makes me feel like the luckiest man on earth, aside from the fact that she is HOT!
She inspires me. She teaches me. She makes me think, reflect and grow.
I was out of town las weekend helping a friend re-do his father’s kitchen floor. I hate being away from home by myself, but I love watching my family from a distance. I love seeing pictures my wife sends me, and messages about things they have done or said. I like creeping on my wife’s Facebook page to see what’s going through her head.
Last Friday night as I was going to bed after a long day flooring, I opened my Facebook homepage and saw a status update written by my wife that thoroughly made my heart explode with pride, and swell with inspiration…
“Forgiveness is the best way to show God we get what He has done.”
I read that simple phrase written by my wife, and instantly felt all kinds of emotions. First I simply felt proud to be married to her. Then I felt inspired to embrace and live that challenge, then, finally I felt convicted about my lack of understanding and freedom to forgive. Truly forgive.
As a family we are in the midst of some hard stuff, on both sides. We have all kinds of opportunities right now to forgive in the face of violation, and for the most part I have excused myself from forgiving because of the depth of hurt created in me and in others that I love because of bad decisions and selfishness. Turmoil seems to lurk on the other end of every phone call, misunderstanding and interaction. We take strides in the right direction toward healing only to find selfishness re-building those same walls and even some new ones just around the corner. This whole process has taught me one thing…
I don’t understand what forgiveness really means.
I have used the word a lot, believed in my heart that I do understand it, but ultimately, when it comes right down to it, I don’t. That reality is painfully revealed in so many of the dysfunctional ways that I approach relationships and people. I use statements in the face of violation like,
“Im just not ready to forgive,” and “I can love someone without liking them.” and “Forgiveness doesn’t require me to actually be reconciled to someone.”
These statements reveal one of two things. Either I don’t really understand what Jesus did for me, or I understand it, and ignore the reality that God asks me to do the same for others.
Last night in one of my life groups we read a passage out of John 13 that talks about loving one another. “Love one another, as I have loved you…” Statements like that from the Bible always make me cringe a little bit because I don’t want to recognize how short my love of others falls from the bar Christ set for me, but I still have to ask myself,
“Is it ok to accept that reality in my life, or does the receiving of God’s forgiveness and grace require that I learn more fully how to give that to others.”
There is not doubt in my mind that coming to a full understanding of what Christ has done for me will bring me to a place of longing to give that same forgiveness and grace away. As Christians, we have either chosen to disconnect from God’s call on our lives, or we truly don’t understand it. The problem is, both of those leave us in a very problematic position before God on judgment day.
When I stand before Jesus, with my life under His all-knowing microscope, I am certain that the questions He asks me will have nothing to do with my behavior, good, bad or otherwise, they will have nothing to do with the number of churches I planet, or size of my congregation. They will have nothing to do with leaders developed or Life Groups led. They won’t really even be about how great of a husband and father I am. They will simply be about the way I handled this call from John 13.
Did I love? All people? As Christ loved me?
Did I claim salvation in the same grace and forgiveness that I withheld from others?
Did I ever really understand God’s love for me enough for it to compel me to give it away to the worst of violators?
The fact of the matter is, until I am forced into a position of being called to forgive someone who doesn’t deserve it, who isn’t even asking for it, or at least not in a way that satisfies my need for justice, I have not truly walked in Jesus shoes. I have not truly learned forgiveness.
God thank you for the painful scenarios of this life that reveal your character to my heart. Thank you for your forgiveness, teach my heart to give it away without hesitation… fully, completely, lovingly and powerfully.
Thank you for giving me a wife that challenges me to live more like you.