A rather typical Aussie bloke and his wife came up to the book table in the market where my wife and I had Plough books on display. He tapped the book Why Forgive? and commented to us: “Yep, it’s alright to go to bed – I mean, you can go to bed – but you shouldn't go to sleep if you have something against someone.” With a twinkle in his eyes he glanced at his wife and chuckled, “My wife and I haven’t slept for three weeks!”
His wife was not going to take his remark lying down. She picked up the book, looked at her husband and kiddingly rebutted, “And that’s just why I’m getting this Why Forgive? book for you to read!”
We had a lively exchange then about what it takes to keep a marriage together. “There are so-o-o many things working against marriage today!” she declared. And he responded, “You know, a lot of marriages could be saved by just two small words, ‘I’m sorry.’” She looked up at him and slipped her hand into his. “Why is it so hard for couples to do that?” he wondered.
The issue that causes a conflict between two people might in itself be quite insignificant and could be easily cleared up. Yet often those two small words, “I’m sorry,” get stuck in our throats and never make it out of our mouths. Un-peace hangs in the air. It’s so easy to simply slough it off, walk away from it, or suppress it with a shot of humor. Perhaps – resisting the advice of our friend – we sleep on it in hopes that it will vanish in the night. But usually it doesn’t. The incident lays dormant, waiting for a convenient moment to raise its ugly head again.
In Why Forgive? Johann Christoph Arnold expresses this sentiment: “Perhaps the hardest thing about practicing forgiveness in daily life is that it requires us to confront the reality of our feelings toward those we know best. It is difficult enough to forgive a stranger we might never see again, but it is much harder to forgive a person we love and trust.”
And yet as Dick Wales, a father of a big family, said to me yesterday, “Why wouldn’t you want to forgive? There is so much at stake. My wife and I couldn’t have raised so many children if we weren’t able to say ‘I’m sorry’ and forgive each other again and again. I mean, isn’t that what love is all about?”
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians puts it like this: “If you are angry, don’t sin by nursing your grudge. Don’t let the sun go down with you still angry – get over it quickly; for when you are angry you give a mighty foothold to the devil” (Ephesians 5:26-27, The Living Bible).
Even if you think that a particular nagging thought might not fall into the category of a “sin” or a “grudge,” getting it out in the open, dealing with, and putting it to rest will bring peace of heart and draw you closer together.
Love wants to forgive. And to be able to say “I’m sorry” leads to a good night’s sleep!
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Now how about you? Tell us if Jerry’s recipe works.