Never Ruin an Apology With an Excuse

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Never Ruin an Apology With an Excuse

By Marriage365

ruin apology

Making excuses for causing pain wipes away the entire apology. Apologizing is what we do for others and it’s taking ownership of what we did. #marriage365 Photo by @acresofhopephotography

Funday Friday: More Cow Humor

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Here’s a little cow humor to shake things up for your Funday Friday:

Beef Jerky

If you would like a little more humor or joy in your life, please call CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a coach or counselor.

5 Ways to Make It through a Difficult Season

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5 Ways to Make It through a Difficult Season

By Gavin Ortlund

Institutions, like the weather, have different seasons. There are springtime harvests, summer droughts, autumn wanings, and winter freezes. They have “a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh” (Eccl. 3:3–4). Sometimes God calls us to be part of an institution when it’s passing through a season of extraordinary difficulty, decline, or dysfunction. This could be a family with young kids trying to make ends meet with both parents working; or a church growing so rapidly that its infrastructure can’t keep up with its numbers, leaving everyone overworked and stretched thin; or a work environment in which a dysfunctional transition is causing anger, suspicion, and mistrust among employees; or a business rapidly downsizing because of the economy.

It’s difficult to overstate how hard it can be to stay positive when we’re put in a negative or stressful environment. In such an atmosphere, unhappiness and even distrust can tend to spread exponentially; they gain the force of momentum. As C. S. Lewis observed in The Horse and His Boy, “When things go wrong, you’ll find they usually go on getting worse for some time; but when things once start going right they often go on getting better and better.” It might seem like a simple statement, but I think it’s both true and profound. All other factors being equal, betterment tends to beget betterment; decline tends to produce decline.

What do we do when we’re in a negative season or environment? How do we keep from getting sucked into the stress and dysfunction? How do we stop the momentum of decline—in relationships, effectiveness, size, and so on? How do we retain the fruits of the Spirit when their opposites swirl all around us?

If the problem is severe, you probably need to extract yourself from the environment. But when God calls you to endure in difficult environments, here are five strategies I’ve learned to abide by.

1. Give everyone, including yourself, extra grace.

Paradoxically, grace is most difficult to extend to others during times it’s most needed. When everyone is pushed amid stressed, our normal patterns of overlooking an insult (Prov. 12:16) or forgiving from the heart (Matt. 18:35) are probably reduced without us even knowing it. Let’s say my normal capacity to absorb a negative remark without letting it bother me is, on a scale of 1 to 10, an 8. Push my stress level up, and it drops to a 5; add on fatigue, discouragement, and conflict, and it’s plummeted to a 2 or even a 1. We get so focused on the negativity around us we don’t notice what’s happening to our own spiritual and emotional state.

When in a negative environment, counteract this momentum by extending more grace than ordinarily would be necessary. I find it helps if I go into my day looking for specific, practical ways to extend grace. “Why not rather be wronged?” Paul asked (1 Cor. 4:7). If I enter the day expecting problems and seeing them as an opportunity to extend grace, they don’t throw me off when they come. “Lord, give me opportunities to extend grace today” is a good morning prayer.

Of course, this isn’t easy. Being gracious in ungracious settings can feel mildly like getting crucified. Doing so requires feasting our hearts on Jesus’s love. As a general rule, we have about as much grace to extend outward to others as we are drinking in from Christ ourselves. And we’re free to be vulnerable about our own shortcomings only to the degree we’re walking in the reality of our justification.

If you’re in a negative environment, take extra time to prepare your heart before walking into the war zone. Take a Sabbath rest. Disconnect from the negativity and engage with the Lord, and bring your stress level back down so that your forgiveness capacity goes back up to normal.

2. Make extra effort not to take things personally.

My tendency is to take things personally. If someone criticizes me, my instinctive reaction is often “What did I do that brought this criticism?” One thing I’ve learned, though, is that there’s often nothing we’ve done to bring about negative behavior. People around us often hurt in far deeper ways than we realize, and their negative behavior often flows from that suffering. Of course, it’s always true some criticism is warranted and other criticism isn’t—but in a stressful, negative season, the percentage of unwarranted, unhelpful criticism increases significantly. It’s helpful, then, to adjust our expectations. We must remind ourselves, There may be extra negativity floating around today. But it’s not about me. There’s a bigger picture here.

When we remember that, it liberates us from self-defense mode to look for the hurts/needs/problems underneath whatever criticism or negativity we’re expecting. That opens up doors for ministry to the person offering the criticism or expressing the negativity. Amazingly, I’ve discovered some of the ripest ministry opportunities arrive when we respond graciously to negativity.

3. Simplify your goals and productivity.

One of the most powerful mechanisms for fighting against the momentum of negativity is to focus on what you love about your job. Eliminate and concentrate wherever possible. A negative environment isn’t the time to take on new, amorphous projects outside your gifting; it’s time to refocus on the basics—your passion and what gets you out of bed in the morning. Set attainable goals. Define what success looks like in your circumstances, and aim for that goal. If you have subordinates working under you, cast your vision of what success looks like in your circumstances for them, and try to encourage them in it.

4. Take care to seek God’s perspective.

We often forget to consider what God is doing in a negative environment. It’s helpful to ask, “What does God think about this?” Focusing on his perspective bulwarks us against others’ misinterpretations and unhelpful analyses. While we always need to discern between what’s helpful and unhelpful in what others say, this is especially vital in a negative environment. People often want to find something to blame, so they say things that are just flat-out wrong, and perhaps make the situation worse.

Tune out what others say if it’s inconsistent with what God says. Discern the voice of the Holy Spirit by its effects and character; it comes with “upbuilding and encouragement and consolation” (1 Cor. 14:3). Even his confrontation won’t lead to condemnation but to conviction, and ultimately to peace and restoration. Get God’s perspective on your situation. Dig yourself into it, and don’t let any human perspectives replace it.

5. Ask God to make you an agent of good in the situation.

It may seem impossible to succeed in your environment. But seeing a situation as hopeless isn’t consistent with the character of the gospel. God has given us everything we need to fulfill Romans 12:21: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” The problem is never ultimately with our circumstances, but with our responsiveness to the Lord in those circumstances. If we ask for God’s blessing, he will open special doors for us to do good to others amid our situation. In fact, the negativity may be precisely the opportunity we need to show the love of Christ to those around us: “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8). 

And a final thought: remember that it won’t last forever. In God’s goodness, winter’s freezes eventually melt away, and the sun comes out again.

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If you or someone you know is going through a difficult season and would like some help, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with one of our coaches or counselors.

Life Without a Bucket List

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Life Without a Bucket List

By Kara Tippetts

{Editor’s Note: On March 22nd, 2015, Kara Tippetts went home to be with Jesus after a long and difficult battle with cancer. While she was here, she touched so many lives, and helped people understand how you can find God, even in the midst of suffering, even in the midst of the mundane. Kara’s response to her terminal cancer was filled with grace, hope and peace. This devotional comes from her final book, And It Was Beautiful. We hope these words will speak to you in a special way today.}

I can confidently say I don’t live with a long list of things I want to do, see or complete before I’m done in this place. I carried a dream for years of having a farm. I was in love with all things Wendell Berry. I could picture it, the life of routine created by the land and its rhythms.

But beyond that, I’ve never longed for having a list and checking things off. I’m happy with my old cars, my simple wardrobe, my lack of fancy things and vacations. Don’t get me wrong, I do love a good concert, but I also love an organic dance party in my kitchen. I love great food, but I also love a hot dog over the fire pit in my backyard. I love a hike in the mountains, but I also love a walk around the block with my people.

Last week, when I heard I may have another long road to travel on this journey, I turned to Jason and cried. I told him how day after day this place is losing its grip on me. Driving down the street, this place sometimes feels so [vulgar], so wanting my money without care for my heart.

Billboards blare at me what to buy, what to think, how to vote. But the tie that binds me here is relationships. Sickness makes those bonds more real, more important. It’s people who grip my heart.

Suffering has a way of exposing our theology, certainly our practical theology, where what we believe about God collides with where we live. My heart always hurts a little when someone hears my story and begins to question God’s goodness.

I have found that suffering makes my faith more childlike, more simple. Our ideas of God are not necessarily made bigger or more grandiose through suffering, but they are simplified as we wade through the unknown of what comes next.

Last week, in that unknown, I was smooching on [my son] Lake and the thought hit me that I won’t be around to help him navigate his first heartbreak. I was in a public place and I nearly lost my footing because of the fear that gripped me in that moment. I looked up and saw my growing girls and was almost suffocated by the thought of who will help them during the awkward years of puberty. Shouldn’t it be me? That’s the way it’s supposed to be, right? Can’t I stay and be here for them when they need me?

The truth is none of us know the length of our lives. So we pray for daily bread and say thank you when it comes. For today I have a little boy who will cross the room to give me a hug. I have a baby girl who gives me 10 kisses when I ask for five. I have a preteen who still holds my hand in public, in front of her friends even. I have a second born who loves to tell me every tiny detail of her day. I have a guy who makes coffee just like I like it.

A bucket list? No, I don’t need one. I’m so rich. It’s relationships that matter. And for me, paying attention to the precious gift of today is the only thing on my list.

– See more at: http://proverbs31.org/devotions/devo/life-without-a-bucket-list/#sthash.W3MLiYm1.dpuf

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If you would like to talk with a counselor or coach, please contact  CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003.

When You Feel Like Your Spouse Doesn’t Care…

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“When you FEEL like your spouse doesn’t care, ask yourself: What are the odds I might be wrong?”
-Shaunti Feldhahn

For more, check out her book The Good News About Marriage.

spouse care feel

If you are struggling in your relationship or would like to enrich your relationship, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

 

Forgiveness Helps Your Health

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Forgiveness: Letting Go of Grudges and Bitterness

forgiveBy the Mayo Clinic

When someone you care about hurts you, you can hold on to anger, resentment and thoughts of revenge — or embrace forgiveness and move forward. 

Nearly everyone has been hurt by the actions or words of another. Perhaps your mother criticized your parenting skills, your colleague sabotaged a project or your partner had an affair. These wounds can leave you with lasting feelings of anger, bitterness or even vengeance.

But if you don’t practice forgiveness, you might be the one who pays most dearly. By embracing forgiveness, you can also embrace peace, hope, gratitude and joy. Consider how forgiveness can lead you down the path of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

What is forgiveness?

Generally, forgiveness is a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge. The act that hurt or offended you might always remain a part of your life, but forgiveness can lessen its grip on you and help you focus on other, more positive parts of your life. Forgiveness can even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you deny the other person’s responsibility for hurting you, and it doesn’t minimize or justify the wrong. You can forgive the person without excusing the act. Forgiveness brings a kind of peace that helps you go on with life.

What are the benefits of forgiving someone?

Letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for happiness, health and peace. Forgiveness can lead to:

  • Healthier relationships
  • Greater spiritual and psychological well-being
  • Less anxiety, stress and hostility
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Fewer symptoms of depression
  • Stronger immune system
  • Improved heart health
  • Higher self-esteem

Why is it so easy to hold a grudge?

When you’re hurt by someone you love and trust, you might become angry, sad or confused. If you dwell on hurtful events or situations, grudges filled with resentment, vengeance and hostility can take root. If you allow negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice.

What are the effects of holding a grudge?

If you’re unforgiving, you might:

  • Bring anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experience
  • Become so wrapped up in the wrong that you can’t enjoy the present
  • Become depressed or anxious
  • Feel that your life lacks meaning or purpose, or that you’re at odds with your spiritual beliefs
  • Lose valuable and enriching connectedness with others

How do I reach a state of forgiveness?

Forgiveness is a commitment to a process of change. To begin, you might:

  • Consider the value of forgiveness and its importance in your life at a given time
  • Reflect on the facts of the situation, how you’ve reacted, and how this combination has affected your life, health and well-being
  • Actively choose to forgive the person who’s offended you, when you’re ready
  • Move away from your role as victim and release the control and power the offending person and situation have had in your life

As you let go of grudges, you’ll no longer define your life by how you’ve been hurt. You might even find compassion and understanding.

What happens if I can’t forgive someone?

Forgiveness can be challenging, especially if the person who’s hurt you doesn’t admit wrong or doesn’t speak of his or her sorrow. If you find yourself stuck:

  • Consider the situation from the other person’s point of view.
  • Ask yourself why he or she would behave in such a way. Perhaps you would have reacted similarly if you faced the same situation.
  • Reflect on times you’ve hurt others and on those who’ve forgiven you.
  • Write in a journal, pray or use guided meditation — or talk with a person you’ve found to be wise and compassionate, such as a spiritual leader, a mental health provider, or an impartial loved one or friend.
  • Be aware that forgiveness is a process and even small hurts may need to be revisited and forgiven over and over again.

Does forgiveness guarantee reconciliation?

If the hurtful event involved someone whose relationship you otherwise value, forgiveness can lead to reconciliation. This isn’t always the case, however.

Reconciliation might be impossible if the offender has died or is unwilling to communicate with you. In other cases, reconciliation might not be appropriate. Still, forgiveness is possible — even if reconciliation isn’t.

What if I have to interact with the person who hurt me but I don’t want to?

If you haven’t reached a state of forgiveness, being near the person who hurt you might prompt you to be tense and stressful. To handle these situations:

  • Remember that you can choose to attend or avoid specific functions and gatherings. If you choose to attend, don’t be surprised by a certain amount of awkwardness and perhaps even more intense feelings.
  • Respect yourself and do what seems best.
  • Do your best to keep an open heart and mind. You might find that the experience helps you to move forward with forgiveness.

What if the person I’m forgiving doesn’t change?

Getting another person to change his or her actions, behavior or words isn’t the point of forgiveness. Think of forgiveness more about how it can change your life — by bringing you peace, happiness, and emotional and spiritual healing. Forgiveness can take away the power the other person continues to wield in your life.

What if I’m the one who needs forgiveness?

The first step is to honestly assess and acknowledge the wrongs you’ve done and how those wrongs have affected others. At the same time, avoid judging yourself too harshly. You’re human, and you’ll make mistakes.

If you’re truly sorry for something you’ve said or done, consider admitting it to those you’ve harmed. Speak of your sincere sorrow or regret, and specifically ask for forgiveness — without making excuses.

Remember, however, you can’t force someone to forgive you. Others need to move to forgiveness in their own time. Whatever the outcome, commit to treating others with compassion, empathy and respect.

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If you need help with hurts and want to talk about forgiveness or those wounds, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

Funday Friday: Some Clean(er) Humor

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Here is some clean(er) humor for your Funday Friday:

tides have turned

Sleep and Mood

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Sleep and Mood

By Harvard Medical School

sleepPoor sleep harms concentration.

You probably know firsthand that sleep affects mood. After a sleepless night, you may be more irritable, short-tempered, and vulnerable to stress. Once you sleep well, your mood often returns to normal.

Studies have shown that even partial sleep deprivation has a significant effect on mood. University of Pennsylvania researchers found that subjects who were limited to only 4.5 hours of sleep a night for one week reported feeling more stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted. When the subjects resumed normal sleep, they reported a dramatic improvement in mood.1

Not only does sleep affect mood, but mood and mental states can also affect sleep. Anxiety increases agitation and arousal, which make it hard to sleep. Stress also affects sleep by making the body aroused, awake, and alert. People who are under constant stress or who have abnormally exaggerated responses to stress tend to have sleep problems.

Insomnia and Psychological Problems

“There’s a big relationship between psychiatric and psychological problems and sleep. So people who are depressed or have anxiety often have trouble with sleep as part of those disorders,” says Dr. Lawrence Epstein, Medical Director of Sleep Health Centers and an instructor at Harvard Medical School.

Difficulty sleeping is sometimes the first symptom of depression. Studies have found that 15 to 20 percent of people diagnosed with insomnia will develop major depression.2 While sleep research is still exploring the relationship between depression and sleep, studies have shown that depressed people may have abnormal sleep patterns.3

Sleep problems may, in turn, contribute to psychological problems. For example, chronic insomnia may increase an individual’s risk of developing a mood disorder, such as depression or anxiety. In one major study of 10,000 adults, people with insomnia were five times more likely to develop depression.4 Lack of sleep can be an even greater risk factor for anxiety. In the same study, people with insomnia were 20 times more likely to develop panic disorder (a type of anxiety disorder).5 Another study showed that insomnia is a reliable predictor of depression and many other psychiatric disorders, including all types of anxiety disorders.6

Addressing Sleep Problems Makes a Difference

If you sleep poorly and feel depressed, anxious, or less emotionally responsive, there are many treatments that can help. First, look at your sleep habits and see if there are steps that you can take on your own to improve the quantity and quality of your sleep. See Adopt Good Sleep Habits for tips on how to improve your sleep. If problems persist, you may wish to see a medical provider and ask about an evaluation for sleep problems and mental health concerns. After an evaluation and diagnosis, your provider can advise you on the best course of treatment. Options may include behavioral or other forms of therapy and/or medications. You can read about and watch a video of a behavioral sleep consultation in the Healthy Sleep module.

Even if you do not have underlying sleep problems, taking steps to ensure adequate sleep will lead to improved mood and well-being. Sheila, a Boston district attorney and mother, became sleep deprived due to the conflicting demands of a full-time job and caring for her young children. She began to feel cranky, irritable, and uncharacteristically depressed. When she got both of her children on a consistent sleep schedule, she herself started sleeping an average of seven to eight hours a night and her mood improved considerably. Read more and watch a video about this in Sheila’s Balancing Act.

Accepting Forgiveness

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Accepting Forgiveness

By Wendy Pope

“Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.” Psalm 32:2 (NIV 1984)

Many years were spent regretting sins from my past. These sins had hurt others and me. Day after day I would replay my decisions. Two decades later, the sting of past sin still had a hold on me.

God had forgiven me; I’d told Him about my sin and asked Him to pardon me. So why couldn’t I accept the freedom of His forgiveness?

I wanted so badly to believe I was the person David mentions in Psalm 32:2, “Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.” Yet I struggled with accepting that God’s grace could erase my sin, wiping it away as if it never happened.

This can be a hard thing to accept for many of us. It sounds all well and good, but in reality, the weight of sin makes it difficult to believe a perfect God can forgive us.

Yet, His Word assures us that God does not count our sin against us. So how can we live in this truth?

The first step is to acknowledge our sin: to ourselves and to God. This opens up the door for honest conversations with the Lord and helps us stop hiding from the fear of being found out.

The next step is to fill our hearts and minds with truth. Throughout the Bible, God teaches how an unaccepting heart can be changed and softened to accept His forgiveness. The following verses are truth from a loving God who longs to transform our lives through the grace of His forgiveness.

My God doesn’t condemn. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1 (NIV)

My master is grace, not sin. “For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.” Romans 6:14 (NIV 1984)

My Savior Jesus has set me free, therefore I am free. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36 (NIV)

My old is gone; because of Jesus Christ I am new. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV 1984)

Are you lugging a load of sin that God has already forgiven? Are you ready to stop living in shame, shackled by regret? Life is too short to exchange the freedom of grace for the bondage of unbelief.

Today, allow God to wash the hurt and regret from past sins away with the transforming power of His truth. And let’s pray for an accepting heart that lives in the freedom of God’s grace and forgiveness.

The Big Chill: Hope for a Winter Season of Marriage

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The Big Chill: Hope for a Winter Season of Marriage

By Melissa Kruger

We sit across the table from one another. Tears brim. I speak the painful words I have contemplated with so many:

Sometimes the loneliness in marriage is lonelier than being alone.

She nods.

Her marriage is not suffering the tragedy of adultery or the horror of abuse. Instead, a cool distance has set in where warmth once bloomed. The quiet tragedy of lives lived beside one another, but not in union with one another.

Older people warned us. They told us they weathered difficult times.  We thought they meant the Great Depression or a war or an illness. One woman married over sixty years was asked if she ever considered divorce. “No, I never considered divorce,” she replied. “But I did take out the revolver a couple of times.” Behind the humor is the reality of a different kind of pain.

In every marriage there is the gradual wear and tear of life on life. Sin rubs against sin, causing relational blisters that are difficult to heal. The person that once brought smiles of joy now causes tears of pain. You used to talk for hours, now the silence screams angry.

Are some destined to a Narnia-like marriage where it’s always winter and never Christmas? Is there hope for a couple when the chill sets in?  Throughout years of ministry, I have witnessed spring bloom time and again in marriages and I believe there is hope. In the midst of a wintery season, how can a couple till the soil of their marriage to encourage new growth?

Embrace the Promise

At some point most marriages face a rough patch. Being annoyed, frustrated, or emotionally distanced does not mean you married the wrong person or have a difficult marriage. You have a marriage. There’s a reason we make a promise “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.”  The necessity of a promise presupposes that at some point we may want to abandon ship. While most Facebook pages are full of apple picking families, romantic get-a ways, and birthday celebrations, believe me, the numbers of difficult stories behind those seemingly happy stories are countless. I regularly meet with women struggling in their marriages. But who shares on their newsfeed:  I cried myself to sleep last night because I had a terrible fight with my husband ormy wife confessed she isn’t attracted to me anymore? An unrealistic expectation of a trouble-free marriage has a tendency to increase our dissatisfaction with it. Accepting that wintery seasons are a normal part of many healthy marriages can be a helpful first step towards healing.

Pray Daily

The Lord is able. He saved Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the furnace (Daniel 3). He caused the sun to stand still (Joshua 10:12). He brought down the walls of Jericho (Joshua 6). You may feel that nothing can save your marriage. God can. He is able to tear down the walls that divide. He is able to build back delight. What is impossible with man is possible with God.  Hope in Him. Pray to Him. Keep seeking, keep knocking, keep asking.

Love Unconditionally

Don’t wait to love until your spouse starts loving you. Begin today. Consider how you can demonstrate unconditional love in your marriage. In what ways can you display patience and kindness?  How can you let go of resentment or irritability?  What does it look like today for you to bear all things, believe all things, hope in all things, and endure all things?

Does it sound like too heavy of a cross to bear?  Then most likely you are loving your spouse in the very way Jesus loved you. It may feel like death to let go of hurts and unfulfilled longings, but loving in the way of the cross is the pathway to redemption.

Examine your Affections

Are you seeking from your spouse what only the Lord can give? No other person can fully satisfy or save us, but we often place unrealistic expectations on our spouse. We expect them to care perfectly, understand sympathetically, and know our needs before we even ask. Only the Lord can be this source of comfort in our lives. We have an eternal thirst that can only be fulfilled by an eternal God.  If we seek in our spouse what only the Lord can give, we set our marriages up for failure or idolatry.

Remember with Thanksgiving

Take time every day to reflect upon things your spouse is doing that you can offer up in thanksgiving. “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8). We can stoke the fires of resentment or the fires of passion by what we choose to think about with regard to our spouse. As Elisabeth Elliot noted:

A wife, if she is very generous, may allow that her husband lives up to perhaps eighty percent of her expectations. There is always the other twenty percent that she would like to change, and she may chip away at it for the whole of their married life without reducing it by very much. She may, on the other hand, simply decide to enjoy the eighty percent, and both of them will be happy.

Seek Counsel

Find a couple that’s been married over a decade (even better if they’ve been married two or three). Most have gone through a season of difficulty. They’ve seen that God can revive a weary and worn marriage. Be careful with your words as you share. Share honestly while honoring your spouse. Ask for their advice. Seek their prayers.

Forgive Fully

Every marriage is an uncomfortable union between two sinners. We may find that Jesus’ command to forgive “seventy times seven” is not theoretical. One friend told me, “Oh, we passed that number long ago. I counted.”

Choose to entrust your hurts to the Lord. Don’t keep an index file of wrongs to pull out as zingers for the next argument. Paul exhorts, “As the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Colossians 3:13).  This type of forgiveness is impossible without the work of the Spirit within us. Thankfully, His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).

Wait Expectantly

Remember that spring follows winter. Expect the Lord to work in your marriage. Look for signs of new growth. God wants your marriage to be a beautiful reflection of Christ and the Church. Laughter and joy can bloom again.

To those in a difficult season of marriage, cling to Jesus, placing your ultimate hope in the wedding that is yet to come. At the same time, dare to hope for your earthly marriage, anticipating with the Psalmist:

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!  (Psalm 27:13- 14)