The following is an excerpt from our book True Intimacy.
For the next month we will be posting a chapter a day for your reading (and marital) pleasure. However, if you would like to purchase an electronic or printed copy for yourself or someone else we would greatly appreciate your support! To go to the web page for more information click here.
A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger; and it is his glory to overlook a transgression. Proverbs 19:11
A man’s wisdom gives him patience. This verse isn’t talking about “book smarts”, well at least not in the sense that most of us would think of it anyway. Wisdom is gained by learning more about God’s word. The more wisdom you have, the more patience you have, giving you the ability to overlook offenses more easily, which brings you glory, that you in turn give to God. Honestly, I’m finding with increased frequency that the more time I spend with God, the less likely I am to be concerned about trivial things like, well, how the toilet paper hangs for instance.
In Matthew 6:9-15 Jesus teaches us how to pray in the Lord’s Prayer. In Verse 12 it says “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Jesus is letting us know that we are forgiven in the way that we forgive. Honestly, that’s a really hard truth for me to share with you. It was difficult for me to swallow at first, but you know what I’ve learned? Forgiveness is extremely powerful.
“Forgive”, according to http://www.Dictionary.com, means: 1) to grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.); absolve. 2) to grant pardon to (a person). 3) to cancel an indebtedness or liability of: to forgive the interest owed on a loan. 4) to pardon an offense or an offender. You see, forgiveness is a choice, an action, a verb, not an emotion. Forgiveness means you decide to “let it go”. Will the offense still hurt? Possibly, however, it will hold no power over you anymore. Forgiveness is like a ball of fire. When someone does something to you, you have a choice. You can forgive them, or you can hold onto that flaming ball of anger. Many times when someone hurts you, they don’t even realize that they’ve even done or said anything wrong. Either way, whether they are aware of the offense or not, from that moment on the ball of fire grows. The ball is in your court, so to speak, it has been passed to you and now you stand holding it. It’s time to decide what to do with it. Say “I forgive you” to your offender and give the ball to God, or keep holding the flaming ball of fire. If you choose to keep holding back that forgiveness, who is it going to burn? The person you’re upset with, or you? Who’s holding on to it again?
Two weeks after our wedding I was cleaning in our bedroom closet and found a box filled with blank cards; cards that Christian had bought for me and had never given me. In among all these cards was a letter from a woman I had never met. As I opened it my heart started to flutter and I could feel the blood rushing to my cheeks. In this letter she told him how glad she was that he was her “first time”. I got to this point and absolutely dissolved into a huddled mass of tears on the floor of our bedroom as my knees gave out and I fell like a ton of bricks. We had been each other’s first lovers, or so I had thought. Now I wasn’t so sure, this woman was saying that she had intercourse with MY man, the one that I had been with for 6 ½ years at that point. I called him at work and asked him to come home for lunch; I needed to talk to him. When I asked him about the letter he claimed that “she was just weird” and it had been her first kiss that she was talking about. Now, I’m a very innocent and trusting person, but I’m not stupid. I knew that he was lying to me to make me feel better, but I wanted the pain to go away, so I allowed myself to “believe” him. However I did NOT forgive him and I managed to push the situation to that back closet of my mind. Every few years since then she would come up again in my mind, usually at VERY inopportune moments, like during sex. I would wonder if he thought she was a better lover than me, or if he thought she was prettier than me. Every time I would remind myself: “He picked you in the end Tamar”. But it didn’t really help that much. Eventually after weeks of mental torment I would approach him about her again, seeking the truth that I knew in my heart, but never receiving from him. He stuck to his story like glue, it was just a kiss. Honestly, I can’t tell you which hurt more, the fact that he slept with her or the fact that he lied about it for 13 years. And for the 9 years that I knew about it, asked about it, and was straight-faced lied to about it, I withheld that forgiveness. You know who it burned? Me.
Yup, I’m a dirtbag. No, it’s OK, you can call me one if you want. Go ahead.
Have you ever been in a situation where no matter what you do to try to make the situation better, it just keeps getting worse? You know, you do what you think you should do to spare someone else’s feelings. My grandpa has a saying: “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”
I started digging a hole the first day and didn’t stop for thirteen years. By the time I confessed, that hole was extremely deep. I needed a head lamp and timbers to shore up the sides of the hole.
Husbands (and this goes for you wives too), if you are hiding something from your wife, you are not helping them. You may think you are sparing their feelings by holding back and lying to them, but you are doing more harm than good, because they are going to be hurt more when they find out later than if you just come out and tell them. Stop digging, climb out of your hole and confess.