So glad you joined me today! We’re talking about marriage in a six-day series, and we’re here at Day 5.
Today, it’s about having a forgiveness default with your spouse.
5. Don’t just arrive at forgiveness–start there.
I love this quote from St. Moses of Optina:
“You must bear the spiritual infirmities of your brother gladly, and without annoyance. For when someone is physically ill, we are not only not annoyed with him, but we are exemplary in our care of him; we should also set an example in cases of spiritual illness.”
Oh, this is so hard.
But think of your kids when they’re sick. What good is it to be angry at a child who throws up? Or to yell at her to be quiet when she can’t stop coughing through the night? We might feel dread; we might be downright grumpy about being kept up at night or having to clean up a mess. But this is what we signed up for when we agreed to be parents, and so we do it as lovingly as we can.
It doesn’t matter if you told your child to wash his hands and he didn’t. Right now, he’s tormented by illness, and our job as parents is to step in, fluff pillows, change sheets, dose medicine, and cuddle into the wee hours of the morning.
Of course, it’s the last thing we feel like doing for what we have determined to be our ill-behaving spouse. But haven’t you ever felt like a miserable person to live with? I do. Often. I listen to myself sometimes and I think, wow, Maura. You’re being ridiculous. You’re being selfish. Stop it. Just stop it.
And I can’t. I just can’t reign it in, and so I continue on being an idiot.
In those cases, I am dying for a compassionate response from my husband. I want him to look at me and think, she’s really a wonderful girl. She’s just sick. I’m going to let her know how much I love her, pray for her, and promise her we will finish this later when the dust is settled.
He does this, too–a lot. And it diffuses a whole lot of arguments. We’d have even fewer if I would do it, too.
St. Thalassios the Libyan says this:
“Long-suffering and readiness to forgive curb anger; love and compassion wither it.”
Beautiful, isn’t it? Overwhelming, but beautiful.
Let’s start with compassion. Let’s start with forgiveness.