My husband and I had a rough first year and a half (some kind souls like the Shaws called it “bumpy” when we ended up on their couch for marriage counseling – it was more like an intervention). We were both raised by single moms whose spouses cheated on them in spectacular fashion. There was no fodder there for learning or understanding forgiveness.
I was immature. For example, when my husband hurt my feelings I would cry and then want him to come find me. I can still do that today at times - when I want him to feel what I feel and be inside of my heart and head; when I want him to do for me what ONLY God can do.
The way I am emotionally built I need God’s word just to function at a basic level. I’ve collected what I call “touchstone” scriptures:
Ps 56:3 When I am afraid I will trust in you. (I chant this all the time);
2 Cor. 4:16-18 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Habakkuk 3 … when there are no figs on the vine… even then will I trust in you… he enables me. One of my life lines is Psalm 121 – I lift my eyes to the hill.
Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord -- not from my husband, my friends, my kids, my boss, the government, circumstances, or the Lottery!
Only God knows what it feels like to be Leanne Martin. I can expect it from no one else. And thankfully He has the power to do something about it.
One can’t know forgiveness or how to forgive without Jesus and the cross. Without the cross there is no forgiveness. Having received forgiveness I can’t be the Unmerciful Servant. God’s forgiveness:
- Obligates me to forgive
- Teaches me to forgive
- Compels me to forgive (when I am in touch with it)
- Convicts me of unforgiveness
I believe when marriages end in divorce or die without divorce it’s often because of unforgiveness.
Proverbs 17:9 He who covers over an offense promotes love but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.
This says to me: you can forgive and increase love or not forgive - which destines you to repeat the cycle of failing to forgive over and over. This eventually separates close friends and especially spouses. Marriage calls us to overlook more offenses than any other relationship. If you don’t overlook (a better word is: forgive) offenses pile up. You have the same argument with the same pattern over and over. This produces the same outcome that leaves you hopeless that it will ever change. The pain of hopelessness is profound. When you can’t tough it out anymore you quit to stop the pain. But there’s another way: the way of humility and forgiveness.
Marriage gives the arena, the opportunity to exercise forgiveness – “The Forgiveness Gym”. Marriage is also the arena, the opportunity to see my need for forgiveness. Receiving forgiveness is humbling. It’s healing when you accept the forgiveness.
God gave us an institution, a relationship established for the purpose of making us like God - giving us part of himself that requires us to get along with the other half through forgiveness.