The Key to a Successful Fresh Start: Forgiveness
By: Kermit Rowe, Encompass Relationship Facilitator
Can you feel it? The days are getting longer. The temperatures outside are getting warmer. Spring is in the air, and spring is the season for fresh starts. Hence our theme this month: fresh starts.
Where are fresh starts needed more than in marriage, right? You live under the same roof with someone who you eventually find out isn’t the perfect mate you had thought they were (by nature, none of us are). The sometimes result: tension, which grows into frustration, which leads to escalation, then explosion. Things are said in the heat of the moment. And they hurt.
What is needed? A fresh start, a second chance. And what is the basis of a fresh start? Forgiveness.
Without forgiveness, a fresh start is impossible. Each morning, believers are afforded the priceless gift of leaving all our mistakes in yesterday, under the blood of Jesus. We can experience the freedom of that clean slate as long as we utilize all the benefits of forgiveness. Problem is, we love getting it but struggle to grant it.
An article by Anne Peterson on crosswalk.com gives us some help in giving it, giving us “Six Powerful Steps Toward Truly Forgiving Someone.”
1. Give God your hurts. Since forgiveness is God’s plan, how about turning to the original plan for help in overcoming your hurts.
2. Ask God to help you. God wants us to experience forgiveness in all facets of this life and our life to come, so much so that He extended forgiveness through His only begotten Son so that we could spend eternity with Him.
3. Read Scripture about others who have forgiven. Like the story of Joseph in Gen. 50:15-21, or when Jesus was praying in the garden in Matt. 26:36-45, or Jesus on the cross in Luke 23:34.
4. Write down what you’ve been forgiven for. Eph. 4:32 tells us that we forgive because we’ve been forgiven.
5. Pray for whoever hurt you. If you can’t pray for the person who hurt you, then you aren’t ready to forgive.
6. Decide to forgive. Love is a choice, and so is forgiveness.
In fact, the best plan would be to decide before you are offended that you will forgive your spouse. Call it “before-giveness.” If you love your spouse and can’t fathom a life without them, then plan to respond with forgiveness to offenses they will commit. Nobody is perfect, so let’s not insist our spouse be.
Are you in a difficult season of marriage? Encompass Connection Center helps couples learn how to resolve issues and create fulfilling, productive relationships. For many couples, those issues can stem from a lack of participation. Just like any problem, though, participation issues can be fixed. We offer a free relationship assessment to determine your relationship’s strengths and potential threats. For more help, look into our RINGS Experience, which includes marriage strengthening exercises and a coaching model to help build real intimacy and growth skills.
Lavern & Ronda Nissley are co-directors of Encompass. Married since 1978, both enjoy coffee, riding their tandem bicycle and working together to build strong relationships.