Two of the hardest things to say and truly mean are ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘I forgive you.’ Will our words be accepted in the way they were said or questioned at every turn?
True forgiveness is an essential element of marriage because hurt is a part of every relationship. Forgiveness is a decision to let go of the hurts as we model God’s forgiveness. It enables marriages to endure the good and the bad times. Every day we do or say, or fail to do or say, things that hurt our spouse. Without reconciliation, small bumps and bruises become major injuries, even fatal ones.
When hurt we may decide to keep going and say nothing, but this only amplifies feelings of guilt, shame, loneliness and isolation. It is a throbbing millstone around our neck – dragging us down. When we forgive that millstone becomes a balloon carrying us from misery to healing and renewal for our relationship. We must decide to forgive despite the pain and give up our perceived right to hold resentments and get even. “As the Lord has forgiven you, so must you do also”.
There is a myth – I have to forgive immediately – nothing could be further from the truth and it may be a long process. In the prodigal son story, Jesus teaches that forgiveness is the responsibility of both parties. For the person who was hurt, healing means letting go of victim mentality, resentments and distrust. For the one who did the hurting, healing means accepting forgiveness, forgiving oneself, letting go of the guilt. Forgiveness frees both spouses to love and to grow. When we decide to forgive and be forgiven, reconciliation brings new life, inner peace and healing to our relationship.
Forgiveness asks us to take a risk, to make ourselves vulnerable, and to renew our commitment to our spouse even though we may fear being hurt again. Ask God’s help because forgiveness is possible and be prepared to take the first step. Forgiveness takes courage and determination but it is a gift to yourself, your spouse and your marriage.
This blog was written by Caroline & Michael, Deputy Co-ordinators of Retrouvaille England & Wales (Retrouvaille in England and Wales). Retrouville are part of the Alliance of Catholic Marriage Organisations.
For more information on the alliance please visit: www.allianceofcatholicmarriageorganisations.org.uk