Hatred stirs up quarrels, but love makes up for all offenses.
Proverbs 10:12

It hadn’t been a good morning. Just before breakfast they had blown up at each other.

“You are so self-centered and insensitive,” she told him.

“Well, you overreact to everything,” he retorted.

She wanted to take some time to talk about the situation. He couldn’t get out of there fast enough. Before they hopped in separate cars to drive to work, each got in a few final jabs on the fly.

Truth be told, the argument had been building up over several weeks, maybe even months.

Linda thought about all the times Ron was preoccupied with his job, his friends, his hobbies, his favorite team — anything other than her. She began to wonder, “Does he really love me anymore? If he really loved me, would he treat me this way?”

Ron was irritable when he got to work that morning.

“What’s gotten into Linda?” he wondered. “She’s really turned into a nag — just like her mother!”

That morning both Ron and Linda felt terribly alone. They both wondered if they were going to make it as a couple. With their hurts running so deep, marriage loomed over them like an endurance contest.

I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love. –Mother Teresa

Have you ever felt that way?

If not, you have certainly felt the stinging pain, if only briefly, of something your spouse said or did.

With marriage comes pain. It’s part of the package.

Whenever we are hurt, we usually see ourselves as innocent victims. Someone has done us an injustice, and now we’re left to pick up the pieces. While it’s true we may be victims, we are not helpless victims.

We can choose how we’ll respond. We can either choose to be angry, self-righteous and resentful, or we can choose to rise above the negativity and forgive our spouse and pursue unity.

That’s what this proverb is all about: forgiveness. Unless we live in total denial, it’s the only way to cover over all wrongs. And it begins when we free ourselves from any vindictiveness and desire to hurt back. The Apostle Paul sums it up in a straight-forward way: “Never pay back evil for evil . . . do not seek revenge,” (Romans 12:17-19).

Reflect and Respond

What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard on cultivating forgiveness?

Go ahead, tell us in the comments.

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