November 11, 2011

on forgiveness in marriage.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote-

O man, forgive thy mortal foe,
Nor ever strike him blow for blow.
For all the souls on earth that live,
To be forgiven, must forgive.
Forgive him seventy times and seven;
For all the blessed souls in Heaven

todd and i were asked to speak to couples about "forgiveness in marriage."
we were part of a small marriage seminar with two other speakers, "love in marriage" and "trust in marriage".
i laughed that we were asked to talk about forgiveness... hmmm?!

Before we were asked to speak, I had been browsing our library and found the book, "The Miracle of Forgiveness" by President Spencer W. Kimball.  (It has seriously become one of my favorite books ever.)
i picked it out and started reading.  i had the thought, "I really want to read this, but i feel a bit stupid because i don't have any huge sins i'm trying to repent of."
i am SO glad that i didn't stop... and so glad that i got a call a few days later asking us to speak.
we have learned so much as we've studied FORGIVENESS together.
truly, forgiveness is a beautiful concept-- and, repentance and forgiveness are ESSENTIAL for a good marriage.

When Todd and i were first married, we lived in the basement of his parents' house for a summer.
Shortly after returning from our honeymoon, we got into an argument about whose job it was to take out our trash (his, of course).
i remember being rather dramatic and emphatic.
he sat down on the bed and put his head in his hands and said, OUT LOUD, with a sigh, "Oh man.  WHAT have i gotten myself into?!"
hah!  i knew i would never forget those words. that was officially the END of the honeymoon and the beginning of real life together.

i don't believe that LOVING a spouse is something that just comes naturally.
Like parenting, it takes much to learn the art of being a good wife.
Perhaps I feel this way because I was not raised in a home with good husband/wife examples... but, i have a feeling all of us go through a learning curve when it comes to marriage.
I have been drawn to this scripture OFTEN.
Titus 2:4
TEACH THE YOUNG WOMEN to be sober, TO LOVE THEIR HUSBANDS, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste KEEPERS AT HOME.
i am continually learning how to love my God, to love my husband, to love my children, to love my neighbor, and to be a keeper at home.
it is a process and a becoming...  it is my quest.

i LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this quote by Brigham Young.
“Were I a woman possessed of great powers of mind, filled with wisdom, and, upon the whole, a magnanimous woman, and had been privileged with my choice, and had married a man, and found myself DECEIVED, he not answering my expectations, and I being sorry that I had made such a choice.  Let me show my wisdom BY NOT COMPLAINING about it.  A woman’s wisdom and judgment has failed her once in the choice of a husband, and it may again, if she is not very careful.  By seeking to cast off her husband—by withdrawing her confidence and good will from him, she casts a dark shade upon his path, when by pursuing a proper course of love, obedience, and encouragement, he might attain to that perfection she had anticipated in him.”

As i've thought about HUSBANDS, i have come to realize that wives have much power in shaping and encouraging.  It is so important that we learn to love our husbands, to have FAITH in their potential, to SEE them the way God sees them

All of us are IMPERFECT, WEAK, and at times SINFUL.
Even a really great marriage is REALLY hard.
Even a really great marriage NEEDS forgiveness.
Even AFTER you divorce, not forgiving can ROB you of PEACE.

Forgiveness is turning your spouse over to God and letting God replace your stony heart with a heart full of love for your spouse.
Much of forgiveness is the WORDS we speak.
As you share your testimony with others, your testimony is strengthened.
The same is true of LOVE.
If you gripe and complain and rehash the weakness and sins of your spouse... you will become increasingly discontent.
you will see his glaring weakness and love will fade.
if, you choose to forgive, encourage, hope for, and love your spouse... your love will grow.
“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.”  Ezek. 36:25-26

a letter from the first presidency says we should say, “let God judge between me and thee. But as for me, I will forgive.” Latter-day saints who harbor a feeling of unforgiveness in their souls are more censurable than the one who has sinned against them... dismiss the feeling of unforgiveness and cultivate in your souls that spirit of Christ who cried out upon the cross, Father forgive them for they know not what they do.

It is a commandment to forgive all men, whether or not they have repented.

todd talked about the importance of confession in marriage.
he told of a time early in our marriage when he got a parking ticket.
he had paid the ticket and not told me about it, because he was embarrassed.
during an interview with one of his church leaders, he was reminded NEVER to keep things from his spouse.
dishonesty and hiding is just the first step to greater sins.
{i hope i was kind when he finally did tell me about that ticket.}
when you have a relationship of love and trust in your marriage-- confession will be a regular, unifying communication.
todd has always been a kind, nurturing husband-- i have always found strength and support when i turn to him and confess my sins/weaknesses.
how important it is for us to be completely honest with our spouse.

Forgiveness is the greatest gift of God- both to be forgiven and to forgive.
“Dr. Sidney Simon, a recognized authority on values realization, has provided an excellent definition of forgiveness as it applies to human relationships:
“Forgiveness is freeing up and putting to better use the energy once consumed by holding grudges, harboring resentments, and nursing unhealed wounds. It is rediscovering the strengths we always had and relocating our limitless capacity to understand and accept other people and ourselves.”

Matt 7:34
Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and behold, a beam is in thine own eye.”

NOTE--  I wondered about the MOTE and the BEAMS...  I wondered, what if you DO have the mote and he has the beam.  I was taught-- WHEN YOU DON'T FORGIVE, you ALWAYS HAVE THE BEAM.  always.  No matter what your spouse has done.  Unforgiveness is ALWAYS a beam in your eye-- a beam that will hurt you and make SEEING others very difficult.

Ye ought to forgive one another.  For he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord.  For their remaineth in him the greater sin.

Don't you love the story of Corrie Ten Boom, a holocaust survivor and speaker?
After speaking to a large group one day, she met a man who was a former Nazi guard whom she remembered from her camp.  She said,

“I remembered him and the leather crop swinging from his belt. I was face-to-face with one of my captors and my blood seemed to freeze.

“ ‘You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk,’ he was saying, ‘I was a guard there.’ No, he did not remember me.
“ ‘But since that time,’ he went on, ‘I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fräulein,’ again the hand came out—’will you forgive me?’
“And I stood there—I whose sins had again and again to be forgiven—and could not forgive. Betsie had died in that place—could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking?
“It could not have been many seconds that he stood there—hand held out—but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.
“For I had to do it—I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. ‘If you do not forgive men their trespasses,’ Jesus says, ‘neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.’
“I knew it not only as a commandment of God, but as a daily experience. Since the end of the war I had had a home in Holland for victims of Nazi brutality. Those who were able to forgive their former enemies were able also to return to the outside world and rebuild their lives, no matter what the physical scars. Those who nursed their bitterness remained invalids. It was as simple and as horrible as that.
"And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion—I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. ‘… Help!’ I prayed silently. ‘I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.’
“And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.
“ ‘I forgive you, brother!’ I cried. ‘With all my heart!’
“For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely, as I did then”

Don't you LOVE Corrie Ten Boom?  I have felt that forgiving, loving current MANY times as i have prayed with full energy of heart- Father, HELP ME TO LOVE THIS MAN or THIS CHILD or THIS WOMAN.  Help me to forgive, and fill me with YOUR love.
Charity is the pure love of Christ... and it is a gift bestowed upon all those who are believers.
i love "forgiveness is not an emotion, it is an ACT OF WILL that can function regardless of the temperature of the heart." 
we provide the ACT, and He provides the HEART.
love it!!

Elder Faust says, “Forgiveness is not always instantaneous... Most of us need time to work through pain and loss. We can find all manner of reasons for postponing forgiveness. One of these reasons is waiting for the wrongdoers to repent before we forgive them. Yet such a delay causes us to forfeit the peace and happiness that could be ours. The folly of rehashing long-past hurts does not bring happiness.”

i thought a lot about SIN and SINNERS.
i have learned that Satan does not work hard on us or our spouse because we are weak and evil.
He works hard on us because we are SO GOOD.
Satan knows who we are and what we can become.
He works hardest on the BEST.
You can HATE him.  Hate Satan, HATE sin.  Recognize that SIN hurts and is wrong.
And, at the same time you can LOVE your spouse.
Love imperfect people who are sometimes weak.
Forgive by understanding that none of us can overcome without Christ's atoning power.

i have thought about the Law of Chastity.
we are often taught how we can BREAK it, but not often how we can LIVE it.
Law of Chastity—do not have any sexual relations before marriage and be completely FAITHFUL to your spouse after marriage.  Perhaps, being faithful is more than just a reference to physical intimacy. 
Perhaps, being faithful to your spouse is a state of mind.
Faith = hope for things which are NOT SEEN which are true.
FAITH—have faith in GOD’s ability to be GOD. He is a perfect judge and a perfect teacher. GOD loves you and your spouse. God KNOWS you and your spouse. God will teach HIM and God will teach YOU. He can help you LOVE an imperfect person by showing you their goodness.
As I strive to live the law of chastity with my whole heart and soul, I am drawn closer to my spouse physically, mentally and emotionally.  I love him for who he is AND who he can become.

He can help you forgive others and forgive yourself by replacing your heart with HIS.
Forgiveness sometimes needs WORDS.
Write down the SIN!! Write down your anger and your hate and your hurt. Acknowledge the wrong and the sin. Speak it if you need to.

Say the words, I FORGIVE YOU FOR... THIS IS WRONG, and I forgive you for being weak. Forgive YOURSELF for sins and weakness. I forgive myself for... I am weak and I am getting better. I forgive myself that I am not perfect today.
You are NOT stupid if you LOVE an imperfect person.

Forgiveness is a CHOICE we must make- for peace in this life and salvation in the life to come.
Forgiveness is LOVING an imperfect person. Loving a weak person, not loving Satan or sin.
Forgiveness is Praying with all energy of heart, Speaking kind words, Remembering that we are also imperfect, Loving the person while hating their sin, Desiring empathy, Desiring more love, RECOGNIZING AND REPENTING of OUR sins.
Repenting and Forgiving go HAND IN HAND.

NOTE-- I am CHEWING this concept currently...  Finding fault in other people is a SIGN that YOU HAVE UNREPENTANT SINS.  When you properly REPENT of your sins and weaknesses, you will NATURALLY be more forgiving of other people's sins and weaknesses.

We talked about the difference between sins and weakness.
I noticed this in my own life...
Sometimes, I am heading back from a shopping trip.
My stomach is tight and in knots.  I know that I have spent too much money, been gone too long and probably bought things that i do not need.
I feel sick and, if i continue on my way home, my tendency is to enter my house cranky and immediately be defensive, sensitive, and cranky with my spouse.
i have learned to talk to myself, out loud.
(Yes, you can laugh at me.)
I say things like, "Jen, it's ok that you were weak at the store.  I forgive you for not being perfect yet.  I know that you had good intentions.  It is hard to be a good steward.  Don't be too hard on yourself.  You did not sin, you are just weak.  I forgive you for being weak.  Next time you can do better." 
When I give myself permission to be imperfect, I am more forgiving of my imperfect spouse. 
Even if I AM sinning, I can do the same thing.  Recognize my sin.  Accept that I am imperfect and begin the steps to repentance.

1. Godly Sorrow For Sin
2. Abandonment of Sin
3. Confession of Sin
4. Restitution for Sin
5. Obedience to God’s Law.

Satan wants us to HIDE when we see our NAKEDNESS.
in marriage we are to CLEAVE unto one another-- in our NAKEDNESS.
we don't always get spiritual implants.
sometimes our spouse has to see us how we really are- in our natural, imperfect state- and love us still.
Forgiveness is loving an imperfect person, and allowing an imperfect person to love you back.

The solution to the problems of life require understanding and forgiveness...
If the spirit of kindly, tenderhearted forgiveness of one another could be carried into every home, selfishness and distrust and bitterness which break so many homes and families disappear and men would live in peace.

i have learned much not only from studying forgiveness in marriage but from practicing it.
i can honestly say that my marriage is STRONGER because of the opportunities i have had to forgive and be forgiven.
perhaps, it is easier to love an imperfect person than a person with no flaws because the ACT OF FORGIVING SINS glues your hearts together through the atonement of Christ.
perhaps, i am tied tight to my Savior and redeemer because of my many sins and weaknesses that He has forgiven for me.

i'm sorry that this post is just a modge-podge of ideas.
because of the professor, we were much more organized in our presentation than i have been writing this post.
hope you love these thoughts as much as i have.

“And be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”  Ephesians 4:32
Happy Veteran's Day!


CTR Mama said...

Wow! Great lesson!

Corine said...

I LOVE this! :D I don't remember whose blog I got the link to this post from - you were a guest there - I bookmarked it because I didn't have time enough to read it right when I found it. I'm so glad I did! :D
I have just learned from this post, that forgiveness is as misunderstood as love is. Both are ACTS not feelings. And the feelings FOLLOW ACTIONS. "forgiveness is not an emotion, it is an ACT OF WILL that can function regardless of the temperature of the heart." Corrie Ten Boom
Love is like that. Love is a CHOICE to treat another with forgiveness, kindness, etc. no matter what the feeling... The feelings of love come as we PERFORM ACTS of LOVE. "To know you is to love you" because REALLY KNOWING means we UNDERSTAND. Perhaps this is why the Savior loves us all so much. He truly knows and understands us because he suffered all that we suffer in the Garden. And yet - he had to CHOOSE to perform the greatest act of love possible, BEFORE the understanding could come. He had to choose to suffer for us, before he could feel what we feel in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Thank you for the reminder that forgiveness isn't always instant, and that the CHOICE to forgive and forget - the choice to DO what I would do, were there nothing to forgive (save putting self or others in danger) - will eventually be followed by forgiving feelings...

Corine :D

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