In the real world, there are all sorts of external pressures and virtue deficits in our character that make us imperfect practitioners in the business of relationships. In other words, we stuff up. Regularly. In our many years preparing couples for marriage, we’ve always told them that if they only remember one relational skill, make it the process of forgiveness and reconciliation. It is this capacity that will enable their marriage to endure the good and the bad times.
Good communication, conflict resolution, family of origin insights are all great skills to have, but your marriage can survive without them. It can’t survive without forgiveness. Disappointments, misunderstandings, and broken promises will be part of every marriage. Even expert communicators will sometimes be clumsy with their words or lazy with their listening. Without the ability to reconcile, the bumps and bruises of everyday relating can become major injuries, even fatal ones.
The willingness to forgive, to let go of resentment and choose love despite the failures of the other, is a crucial factor in all long-lasting marriages. It’s also vital if you want your marriage to be even the slightest bit joyful.
God’s mercy is always available to us. And when God forgives, he forgives completely.
All of us are called to ‘forgive as we are forgiven’. As couples, we are called to model God’s forgiveness in our marriage and to facilitate it in our families. Unresolved resentment will poison any relationship, not just our marriage. It eats away at our joy and darkens our view of the other. It undermines our trust and drives a wedge between us.
Resentment can be hard to budge. Sometimes we cling to our resentment like a drowning man grasps a life float. We convince ourselves that our resentment will somehow protect us from further hurt. But unresolved resentment does the opposite; it preconditions us to expect disappointment and predisposes us to interpret the actions of the other as hurtful confirmations of their ill-intent.
Only forgiveness can liberate us from the prison of resentment and unlock our hearts for generous loving.
If you’re looking for help in dissolving resentment so that forgiveness can spontaneously emerge, check out our BreakThrough workshop. It’s now available online and provides powerful insights and simple activities designed to tap into your natural capacity for growth and healing. Everybody has someone they need to forgive, someone against whom they hold resentment. Lay down your resentment and embrace the freedom that only forgiveness can bring.