“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:12-14 (ESV)
We recently celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary and dragged out our wedding album. (It weighs about 20 pounds!) Tucked in the box were the sermon notes from our ceremony, on this passage from Colossians.
The passage says that over everything else, “put on love.” Many of us have heard that “All you need is love.” That day, the pastor reminded us that we would also need forgiveness.
He said, “Nowhere is forgiveness required more than in marriage. Forgiveness is imperative.”
We have put that lesson to good use over and over in our marriage. Hardly a day goes by that we don’t offend each other in some way. It could be a careless word, a thoughtless act or doing the dishes the “wrong” way. Or it could be a major issue like disrespect or dishonesty. We try our best to manage conflict and address issues.
However, sometimes, even long after a situation is resolved, we hold on to the underlying hurt. Without forgiveness, resentment and anger builds and there is no true reconciliation.
So we have learned to forgive one another. Though admitting our wrongs and asking forgiveness isn’t necessary for forgiveness to happen, it sure does help. When we extend grace and release our hurt, we are free to love and celebrate and move forward together.
After 35 years of offending and forgiving one another, we remind ourselves that forgiveness means loving like it never happened. But forgiving can be so hard. It truly is a divine act — God’s Spirit moving in our spirit. God is there to help us forgive whenever we need it.
As you celebrate your anniversary month, what do you need to forgive?
Go Deeper Together
Consider trying the helpful communication exercise, “Sharing Withholds,” by Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott.
When you’re done with the exercise, take a 15 minute break if you feel you need it. Then come back together and offer apologies. Ask for and receive forgiveness and pray for each other, especially about what was shared.
Dear God, thank you for forgiving us. Please help us to recognize when we hurt each other. Help us to listen to each other, to ask for forgiveness and, especially, help us to forgive each other. Amen.