Hey, darlin! Can you believe its even February already? Another ‘holiday’ is upon us. Yep, I’m talking about Valentine’s day. Warning, if you’re single and bitter, stop here. However, if you’re married, engaged, committed or may ever even consider being so again, read, on, girl, read on.
Let me start off by asking you a simple question: What does the word grace mean to you? Beauty? Elegance? Class? Good form? Mercy? That’s kind of what I thought, anyway. It was a pretty word which also worked as a lovely girl’s name. I heard and read about grace a lot in church, but it never really meant anything special for me personally.
During my quiet time one day, a year and a half ago, I was reading an excerpt from my favorite devotional, by Shelia Walsh, Good Morning, Lord. Walsh described the scene from Calvary when the criminal was saved as a ‘vivid picture of grace.’ She defined the word as ‘unmerited favor.’ She even went on to call grace unfair, for it is given despite the many or few good works one has done.
Unmerited favor. I remember looking further into this’grace’ word, that day and stumbled about another definition of the word. I can’t remember where I read it, but someone described grace as stooping to give mercy/love to someone below us. Then and there, the word grace and all its heaviness suddenly sunk in.
Unmerited favor. Stooping. I visualized my big, huge, powerful God, in all His perfectness, stooping to love on messy, dirty, sin-filled me.
How does that connect to Valentine’s Day? Its about making a successful marriage/relationship using grace.
Have you read the quote “A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers?” Its a good one, but I think its still missing something. I think it requires graceful forgivers.
I, personally have forgiven many people for many things, and vice versa. However, I may not have went on to nurture the relationship I had with them. Yes, forgiveness was given, but maybe not forgotten. Distance grew, maybe to protect myself and/or my child. Was that the godly thing to do? That’s neither here nor there. The point is, you can’t do that in a successful marriage and I’m sure you already know this.
Over the past year, in my new marriage, I have had some real hands on experience learning exactly what it means to give grace. I won’t sugar coat it, its been a typical first year, I think. The honeymoon ended and we realized we really were stuck with each other. Even though we had been living together already, it was no longer just about the now, but also the future and how we were going to get there.
We both pretty well wanted the same things and to get to the same places. However, our plans for getting there weren’t quite parallel. There was a lot of pushing and pulling in both directions. There were a few bad habits that needed to be changed and some good habits that needed to be started.
I’ll go ahead and admit that I’m by no means a perfect wife, but I want to share my experience with learning to give grace, in this post.
Mistakes were made and forgiven…. but not properly. Baggage, pride and a lack of grace were holding us back.
When my husband really messed up, I was bitter and found myself preparing for it to happen again. A defense mechanism, perhaps. I’d forgive him, but couldn’t forget it. It got to where I expected the mistakes. Slowly, our mistakes piled up between us. His apologies become meaningless word vomit, to me. My critical words became daggers of truth to him. His confidence went down along with my respect.
Then I read this amazing article and had a moment of conviction. I needed to stop focusing on him and focus on Him. I can’t fix my husband and my husband can’t fix me. So I started putting it in God’s hands, focusing on how I could be a godly wife and practicing giving grace. Yes, he’d messed up, often. But that’s what grace was all about: forgiving him and letting it go even if I didn’t think he deserved it….again.
And we’d said forever. It wasn’t about a feeling, rather the promise we’d made; not just to each other but to God.
Instead of always expecting mess ups, I’ve just been working on not expecting so much. I’m trying to zero my focus to making sure we succeeded this life together. Yes, that was always my intent: for him/us to succeed at life. But now, my focus had changed a little. I wanted us to succeed at us. I started thinking of more ways I could help us. Even if it meant cheating.
You helped your marriage by cheating?! Not that kind. I mean like giving him the answers to the test. When I get to come home a little early, instead of worrying if he’d done what he’d told me, yet, I make a point to call or text him as a heads up. Then, if he hasn’t, he can scramble to get it done before I walked in the door to be disappointmented and/or frustrated. Should he need the heads up? Should he have just followed through with his word? Probably not and probably so. I don’t know, but I think that’s what grace is. You know, like a grace period for your bills, maybe?
Not earned/deserved. Its a gift.
What if he does it every day for a month? Does he still deserve that forgiveness? Grace says yes, he does. And should you hold back that just-because back rub because of his forgetfulness? Grace says give it anyway.
I have found that in my practicing grace, my anger and frustration is more quickly forgotten. This grace thing is so good for both of us.
Enough rambling. My point is, I want to change the quote, rather add something to it. A good marriage isn’t just about forgiving each other. You have to forgive gracefully. Over and over again, life every time is the first. A successful marriage is the partnership of two graceful forgivers. They don’t forgive just because they’re supposed to, because the apology was good enough, because they owe it or because the person deserves it. They forgive because they love each other. The forgiveness is a gift. An unearned gift. One stooping to the other to lift them back up. Side by side, even.
For Valentine’s Day, I’ve created this grace and love inspired print for your taking. Its yours to do as you please. Pin it, print it, frame it, hang it. Maybe you could even send me a picture of where and how you put it on display?
Happy Valentine’s Day, love.
click here for 8.5” x 11” jpg file