Just as Debra Fileta was about to place the wedding ring on her husband’s hand, an astute guest piped up, “Wrong hand!” Debra turned and said, “Wrong hand, but at least I’ve got the right guy!” She’s the first to admit that she entered marriage with idealist expectations and a belief that her husband-to-be was absolutely perfect in every way. A licensed counselor and author of Choosing Marriage, she is often described as compassionate yet candid. Experience has taught her that marriage will always cost you, but the more you know, the better you’ll do. Come, take a seat on the farm’s front porch and join me in welcoming Debra…
My husband sinned against me. Seriously.
I was having a rough day, and I opened my top-secret drawer where I hide my desperate-times-call-for-desperate-measures chocolate stash.
Gone! My chocolate stash was missing.
The stash I cling to in case of emergencies. The stash I spend a little extra money on, knowing that I’ll use it wisely and savor it piece by piece. The no-kids-allowed, husband-stay-away, one-and-only-stinking-thing-in-life-I-call-my-very-own stash. Immediately (considering the location and the fact that it was only known by the two of us) I knew it had to be my husband who broke into it.
He knows this is my secret stash. He promised not to touch it. I’ll bet he didn’t even savor it! He probably finished it in all of 30 seconds. Can he be trusted? Does he even love me?
Okay, call me a bit dramatic, but I was fuming.
Maybe it sounds like such a small thing to you, but anyone who is married knows it’s usually not the big things that tend to cause a marital rift. Most often, it’s the small things.
And you know what? This wasn’t even about the chocolate anymore. It was about the principle! It was about the trust. It was about him keeping his word and respecting my boundaries.
I was annoyed. I was mad. But more than that, or underneath all that, I was hurt.
A few minutes later my four-year-old daughter walked into our room while we were discussing “the situation.”
We make it a priority to be wise about what we discuss around our children, but she overheard the part about the chocolate.
“It’s okay, Mommy. You can share your chocolate with all of us!” she said with a beaming smile.
It’s a humbling moment when your four-year-old models more grace and forgiveness than you do.
Talk about getting served a nice big slice of “chocolate” humble pie.
But the bottom line is this wasn’t just about sharing; it was about choosing to respond with love when I had every “right” to be annoyed, frustrated, and hurt.
It was about seeking an attitude of reconciliation rather than sitting on the throne of condescendence.
It was about letting go of my pride (You’re the problem. I’m hurt. This is all about me. I have done no wrong here.) and instead learning to move forward with humility, grace, and forgiveness (Do I have a responsibility or role in this? I’m not perfect either. How can we resolve this and come together? Could I be misinterpreting this? How can this be used as an opportunity for grace?).The best way to measure how humble we are is to look at how quick we are to forgive.
Forgiveness requires us to lay down what may be rightfully ours (our hurts, our grievances, our desire to seek revenge) in exchange for something greater (healing, peace, and reconciliation).
But sometimes our pride gets in the way of making that important exchange because it completely blinds us to our own flaws and weaknesses.
Have you ever been in a rush to head out the door when you realize you’ve lost your keys? Your glasses? Your wallet? Your shoe? With three kids, it’s not uncommon to find me running around the house desperately looking for something minutes before we need to leave.
I go into crazy-panicked-lady mode, thinking of the most obscure places I might find that lost thing.
But you know what’s even worse than losing something you need two seconds before you head out the door? Finding it a half hour later in the most obvious place! I’ve often thoroughly looked for something in a spot twice, only to magically find it right in front of my face the third time. It drives me absolutely mad!
It can be so easy to miss something right in front of our eyes. Not only do we do this with our things, but we do it with our selves too.In the heat of an argument or disagreement, or in the face of an offense, it’s easy to focus on the faults of the other person and completely overlook our own.
If we’re not careful, we see what we want to see — rather than what’s really there.
In our oblivion, we magnify the flaws of others while minimizing or missing our own.
Jesus says we’re quick to look at the speck in another’s eye while ignoring the gigantic plank in our eye (Matthew 7:3).
What an accurate picture of our tendency to exaggerate the flaws of others. To let go of our faulty perspective, we’ve got to first get a glimpse of truth.
We’ve got to let go of the false idea of who we think we are and open our eyes to the reality of who we actually are—sinners in need of Christ’s mercy.
When we see God, others, and ourselves accurately, we’ll have a much easier time letting go of our pride and choosing humility instead. We’ve got to get to a point where we can say no to flesh (what I would rather say and do) and yes to Spirit (what God is calling me to say and do).
I realize the importance of this necessary introspection, because if I’m honest, it’s something I wrestle with daily.
Not only am I quick to point out the flaws I see in others (namely, my dear husband), but I’m also the type of person who finds it hard to forgive when I’ve been wronged because I want the person who has hurt me to know just how hurt I really am.
And because, frankly, sometimes sulking feels downright good, doesn’t it?
But as we all know, the longer we hold on to wrongs, the faster the seeds of bitterness and contempt begin to take root in our hearts, ultimately suffocating our relationships with the poison of pride.
For a relationship to have any hope of thriving, we need to learn to let go of our pride in exchange for something greater
Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor, relationship expert, and author. She’s a popular contributor at RelevantMagazine.com and founder of TrueLoveDates.com, which reaches millions with a practical message of hope for dating and marriage. With a fresh and honest perspective, she’s spreading the message that healthy people = healthy relationships with her new book Choosing Marriage.
Any married person will tell you: there’s a huge difference between what you expect marriage will be like, and what marriage is actually like. For so many couples the struggle is real as the “reality check” of marriage begins to unfold with each passing year. A candid look into the reality of married life, Choosing Marriage: Why Is Has to Start with We>Me addresses everything from attraction to sex, from conflict to confession, from confusion to communication. Learn fascinating survey results from over 1,000 singles and 1,000 married people and find eight choices that can take marriage from average to exceptional.
[ Our humble thanks to Harvest House for their partnership in today’s devotion ]