Listen, give me a break. I know I’m still talking marriage stuff. But it’s good stuff. Stuff that we all need to hear. To learn and apply.
There is this crippling emotion and feeling and thought that has planted its grip firmly in the minds of too many believers and seeped out into our marriages, our relationships. It has formed our identities. It has shaped our lives, it has ruined our plans, and it has stolen our vows. It has kept us from resting in the freedom of our Savior’s bloodshed.
A feeling of guilt, regret, or sadness that you have because you know you have done something wrong.
And you know, it’s bad enough that we fight the voice of condemnation within our own heads, but I can’t believe that we actually use our own pain and hurt to shame others. Especially our spouses.
“There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1
Listen, we all sin. We all have a past. I have hurt Greg. Greg has hurt me. I have messed up. You have messed up. Guilt is a human condition. What we do with that guilt is our choice. We can repent at the foot of the cross or we can deny it. We can receive the forgiveness offered and live cleansed or we can pick it back up in unbelief and carry it around for the rest of our lives.
I struggle. I do. There are things that have hurt my husband. Greg struggles. There are things that have hurt me. We sin. Everyone sins. But do you know what we decided? It’s bad enough that we haven’t conquered the affliction of shame in our own battlefields yet but by the grace of God, we would never place shame on each other for what the previous years contained. We agreed to not speak of the past mistakes, not for denial, but for forgiveness. To not slander one another with wrongdoings and sinful choices, but to offer an unexplainable grace that is only provided by a miraculous God.
Not to shout “How could you” or “You liar” but to fight against the enemies plan to destroy our marriage and to love with a Christ like love. To not make one another pay for what had been done. To not owe an explanation. But to embrace each other as sinful people and to love one another as righteous people.
Hear me loud and clear. We are called to forgive as Christ has forgiven us. But I think we can all agree, if you are in a harmful marriage and your life is at stake, this isn’t about shame or forgiveness. It’s about survival. And you get help, now.
But for those of us who are fighting to overcome sin in our marriages, can I just take a minute and hold us accountable?
How dare we dangle our spouse’s mistakes and choices over their hearts and tag team with satan to cast shame. How dare we forget our own failures and somehow believe that we are owed for our feelings. Why would we ever want to affirm the lie’s of the adversary in our marriages and never let go of the past? How can we ever be free of the bondage of shame within ourselves and within the walls of our home if we can’t believe the truth?
“He uses his Word to eradicate our guilt.” Rick Warren
You don’t believe that the power to our healing is in God breathed scripture? Try it. How else are we going to learn the truth about who God says we are and replace the shameful emotions that torment us?
“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever, he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:8-13
It’s hard. I know it is. This week, I’ve lost sleep over a choice I made when I was young. Seriously? I can’t believe I picked it back up after face planting in repentance. The result? Shame.
And the pain in our marriage? It took me years to not think about the heartache caused. But I’m free from it all. You know how it happened? Scripture. Renewing my mind.
Not shaming my spouse in the process, but agreeing with God instead. Even if I didn’t feel like it.
But do you know what was instantaneous? The choice to forgive. The choice to never shame one another. The choice to help each other when the other feels unworthy.
We didn’t know how to do it or what it would like and it has taken work, but we made the choice.
What’s it going to be? The choice is yours.