Marriage can sometimes make me feel crazy, like the robin who appears at our window every morning, at the same early hour, pecking his beak against the glass, certain his reflection is finally going to turn into a friend. The same repetitive action yielding no results, besides a sore beak.
How many times do I keep having to say I’m sorry and asking for forgiveness? The question appearing at the top of my journal page.
It feels ridiculous- the amount of times I need to come and apologize. For being too quick with my words, giving him the cold shoulder, making an unkind remark, nagging at him instead of trusting him or giving him space. Out of my brokenness, I hurt, wound, and discourage my husband with my words and actions.
Will I ever change? I wonder.
The desire wells up within me and every morning I am excited by another opportunity to become more like Jesus. But inevitably it happens…
I mess up.
Sometimes it’s in the same area, the easy sin waiting for me like a trap to fall into again. Other times, I am surprised to find out I am still not perfect, and there are more ways to hurt people and sin than I ever knew possible.
Regardless, I am noticing a pattern, this side of heaven, I don’t think I will never stop needing to whisper the words, I’m sorry…will you forgive me?
It makes me feel crazy. Surely, I should be different, changed, perfect by now. Perhaps the sorry and forgive me pleas are not genuine? Am I growing calloused, my repetitive repentance yielding no visible results?
But this is where I want to remind us, true change never happens overnight. We are always a work in progress.
But every time we reach out to make amends for the wounds we cause others, every time we come humbly in an effort to bring restoration to a relationship, we are taking tiny, slow, often invisible, steps towards healing instead of perpetuating hurt.
However, receiving forgiveness is only one half of this crazy cycle, the other half is giving it out freely, until our mouth/our beak feels like it’s going to fall off.
I forgive you, whether they ask for it or not, is a statement always at the tip of our tongue. Our heart in a perpetual state of readiness to dish out forgiveness even if we just did it two seconds ago.
Life is painful, relationships are messy, discouragement and despair wait to pounce on us before we open our eyes.
Of course, the enemy would like to lull us back to sleep, to keep our eyes closed, and our hearts numb..
He loves to belittle the power of forgiveness, deceiving us into thinking it doesn’t work, we are people without hope, and we are insane for thinking restoration and healing are possible.
All the while, Jesus says to us, never stop saying I’m sorry, don’t ever be ashamed to make amends, and be persistent in your forgiveness, quit keeping track of how many times you give it away, dish it out wildly, without restraint.
The Pharisees taught three times was enough.
Peter suggested seven was probably plenty.
Jesus said don’t even bother counting.
He knew the act of giving and receiving forgiveness would be our spiritual oxygen.
In and out, in and out. Our veins filling with life, pulsing with the rhythms of adventure.
We are totally dependent upon oxygen, we can only survive three minutes without it.
Without the steady flow of forgiveness through our heart, we will never make it. Before Jesus breathed his last breath he muttered, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” On the third day He rose again, His resurrection a declaration to the world of the gracious heart of the Father.
Forgiveness, then, becomes the most cleansing, energizing, renewing, recreating act we take part in every day, every moment- it’s like breathing.
Even experts say we need to practice our breathing, be aware of it even in (especially in) our busy schedules, to stay awake to our bodies need for taking in oxygen.
Deep breathing…they say it:
makes you calmer…
helps to detoxify the body…
makes you happier…
helps to improve your posture…
stimulates the lymphatic system…
increases our cardiovascular capacity.
Deep forgiveness, the kind that Jesus lavished upon us, is our oxygen. We are made to give and receive it, deep breaths in and out… to quit would be crazy.