Failure and Forgiveness

Earlier this week I had to ask my wife for forgiveness.

Our life was really busy for a stretch, and I guess my mind had been preoccupied. As it turns out, I had neglected to pay a number of bills and we started receiving past due notices and late charges. We have two kids in college right now and money is pretty tight; it certainly isn’t something that we want to throw away on late fees and interest charges! When I discovered my mistake, I was sick to my stomach. I briefly wondered if I could hide the oversight from my wife and just take care of it without her ever knowing. But that thought was quickly dismissed; I knew I had to confess and even more so, we had to face this issue like all others, as a team.

I waited until we had a momentary lull in the busyness of our lives, and I opened the conversation by telling her I needed to confess and I needed her forgiveness. I also shared that this was a sensitive area for me and I really wanted her to be calm and to recognize that her reaction was important and that I hoped she would be supportive and understanding. It was a rough conversation, and I know she was tested in her patience and her trust of me to handle our family finances. But we weathered the storm and we have our ship headed in the right direction.

Perhaps this was a minor issue in the grand scheme of things, but it reinforced in me a couple of valuable lessons.

We all need forgiveness.

In big issues and trivial matters, we will always need a partner that is willing to forgive us. We cannot hide the mistakes we make and we need to be honest and bring to light where we may have screwed up. Forgetting to pay our bills was a mistake that I found out before she did. I took the time to think through how she might react and carefully chose the time and place when I was going to confess my oversight. There have been other times when I’ve hurt her feelings or acted insensitively, but I was so busy in my own story that I didn’t even notice until she brought it to my attention. In either case, restoring the harmony of the relationship begins with confessing my part, and asking for forgiveness.

We will ALWAYS need our spouse.

My wife and I are two very different beings. It doesn’t matter what analogy you use, Mars vs. Venus, morning person vs, evening person, spaghetti vs. waffles; whatever the word picture, we approach life and stress very differently. The prevailing attitude of our culture is that we should strive to improve our weaknesses, with the aim of becoming whole and complete as an individual. Certainly there is merit to improving areas where we are deficient, but what if we also embraced an alternative strategy. What if we really focused our time and our efforts in those areas where we are strongest and naturally gifted? What if I was able to recognize areas where I am weak or have limitations, and I allow my wife to fill in those gaps so that I can remain focused and pour my heart and soul into the areas where I have true strengths?

Everyone needs grace.

I love the teaching of Paul David Tripp when he writes, “When your ears hear and your eyes see the sin, weakness, or failure of your husband or wife, it is never an accident; it is always grace. God loves your spouse, and he is committed to transforming him or her by his grace, and he has chosen you to be one of his regular tools of change.” When my wife demonstrates weakness, limitations, and even outright sin, it isn’t a chance occurrence or a targeted assault against me and my desire to secure a little peace and happiness in my small world. What it is, is an opportunity for me to show my wife grace. I get this incredible chance to step into the role of the living God, and let the Holy Spirit that is indwelling me come forward and minister to my wife, even (and especially) when she doesn’t deserve it. And the power to demonstrate that kind of love, that kind of grace comes, not from within, but from the very power of God.

So we live in this awkward balance. The masculine soul loves to protect his wife…but he also needs the woman to make him complete. She is my “ezer kenegdo”; my strength, my power. Trusting in my wife with my weaknesses doesn’t diminish my masculinity. Quite the contrary, she enables me to be brave and courageous when I face the world. My weaknesses and limitations are not a character defect that I need to be ashamed of. God designed and intended these weak places to be opportunities for my wife to show up. It is all part of God’s design – for me and for her.

We build each other up. We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19

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Today’s guest blog post is from Greg Carmichael. He works for State government during the day, rides his mountain bike whenever he can, and was an active supporter of the Boy Scouts while his son progressed through the ranks to Eagle Scout. He has been heavily influenced by the writings of John Eldredge, believes the Bible is the Holy word of God and should be our primary source of truth, and believes God instilled a heart and a passion within us that needs to be released, not tamed. He has a passion to support the institution of marriage and encourage couples. If you’d like to read more of his writings, check out his own blog at http://www.ephesians614.com.

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