I replayed the conversation in my mind over and over again. I listened to the words, the responses, dissected the motives and tone and made mental tally marks for each and every one. The more I listened to the replay the more I became convinced I was right.
What Do I Gain?
This blow-up, this minor marriage disagreement that turned hot quickly and left us both feeling the dissonance of disconnection, was clearly not my fault. I was convinced of it.
My competitive side teams with all of my flesh to let me know that I have won this one. But somehow it doesn’t feel like winning at all. It feels broken and lonely. The foundation feels shaky. Grey clouds cover my world, shadowing everything when my most vital earthly relationship is off balance.
Try as I may, I cannot convince myself I have won anything.
Because I haven’t. I know better.
If you, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared. Psalm 130:3-4
This game I play, keeping score and running replays, throwing out challenges for an additional review, it’s nothing new. The hunger for justice and fairness is born in childhood and clearly, I’ve not outgrown it.
Knowing God’s Grace
But what happens when the game is played on me? I don’t want to watch those replays. I know the extent of my own selfishness and pride. I know the times I’m short on patience and grace and mess up marriage, motherhood and life, something ugly. I’d be horrified to watch a replay of that. I could never stand.
But God, in His infinite mercy, doesn’t do that. He doesn’t do tally marks and replays. He does forgiveness and grace. He wipes it all clean.
To know the extent of my transgressions is to know the beginning of God’s grace.
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence. Ephesians 1:7
So this becomes the remedy for keeping harsh words at bay, the remedy for forgiveness over fairness and a reprieve from keeping score. His grace abounding to me. His mercy alive in me. He forgiveness extended through me.
There are times when forgiveness seems beyond us. The hurts cut too deep, the pain is too fresh, the debt is too great. And on our own, it most certainly is. But when we lay the work before Christ, surrendering the hard and hurtful, he exchanges it for grace that abounds.
I’ve not always seen this happen instantly in my own marriage. The reality of emotions is real and sometimes it takes time for my head and heart to catch up with one another. But when I take the mess of my emotions before God, when I surrender my score card and ask Him to grow forgiveness in me, He is faithful.
Fifteen years of marriage, faithful. Forgiving hard and hurtful things, faithful. Redeeming brokenness and distance, ugly pasts and shaky beginnings, faithful.
Matthew Henry says, “The believer’s actions, as well as his words, declare the praises of Divine mercy.”
My prayer is that this will be true in my marriage, on days of rainbows and birthday parties and days when the work of marriage and motherhood feel like grinding gears.
God, let my words and actions declare Your Divine mercy, because I know I cannot do this well without You. Let my reflex be forgiveness, surrendering the hard and hurtful before you so that Your grace may abound in me. Amen.
Katie, I Choose Brave
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Katie Westenberg is a wife, mother and writer who is passionate about living life bravely for the glory of our Creator and encouraging others to do the same. She enjoys country living in a small town, time spent with friends and family, and saying YES to adventure. She writes at ichoosebrave.com.