Give it a rest- and Forgive!
I have a beautiful black Labrador dog, Lucy. She is seven years old and a great dog. Lucy loves to walk with me each morning, and she gives me a sense of protection…well … not too much protection 😊. Lucy has never met a stranger. Her favorite pastimes are to play fetch and swim in our pool. When we combine her two loves, she enters doggie NARVANA.
When we pitch her yellow tennis ball into her pool, it is on! Lucy is the epitome of happy. She is beautiful in the air, sailing into the pool, catching the ball, and effortlessly swimming back to the stairs. Lucy loves to play fetch in the pool. But there is a problem with all this dog happiness – Lucy doesn’t know when to stop. If allowed, she will continue for hours. She will bring the ball back to anyone on the pool deck that has a hand or a means to throw that ball. When she has fetched 100 times in an afternoon, everyone who sees her knows the truth: “Lucy needs a rest!” Everyone, that is, but Lucy.
If we hide that ball, she gets another from her secret stash in the yard. When finally every ball has been confiscated, she points to our ball hiding place and moans, whines, cries, and pouts. For hours. SHE WANTS THAT BALL, AND SHE WANTS TO PLAY FETCH! She is obsessed. When she was younger, she would play fetch for over 4 hours, with no signs of quitting. Her tenacity is intense as her dedication to the sport of fetch 😊!
I see this same kind of tenacity in marriages, especially when one of the partners doesn’t feel heard or has been wronged by their spouse. In the course of our marriage classes and retreats, Jody, my husband, and I hear a couple bring up an issue, appear to talk it through to a resolution and 10 minutes later bring it back up again. It is usually the wife … sorry sisters, but truth is truth … who brings up the same grievance over and over again. Exhausting.
The marginalized spouse will bring a grievance up to anyone with ears, hoping for someone to validate their feelings and enter into their conversation. To some degree, I have been “Lucy-ish” myself. Yet to my husband’s relief, I lack Lucy’s relentless dedication.
Jody and I once knew a couple with a particularly obsessed wife. Every time that we saw them or got together, there was only one topic that the wife wanted to talk about. It didn’t matter the time, place or who else was present. I was quite newly married myself and had no wisdom to share. So, I just listened and tried to change the topic. I really liked this person as a friend, but she was tiring. Finally, and after she had unintentionally alienated many in our circle, I called her out. I barked, “GIVE IT A REST! It’s a beautiful day, we are at the beach, so LET’S REJOICE INSTEAD OF COMPLAIN!”
I’m sure her husband mentally applauded me, but he didn’t dare chime in. If he had, he would have been banished to the proverbial DOGHOUSE 😊! At first she looked shocked. Then she pouted for a bit, but eventually she joined back in with the party! Whew!
Looking back at this situation, I realize that the grievance that my friend couldn’t get past was unforgiveness. She hadn’t forgiven her husband for a sin he committed 5 years earlier. Unwillingness to forgive is a bitter bone. As you chew, it gets more and more delicious. You don’t want to drop it; you obsess over it. It consumes you. It becomes enjoyable in a weird self-serving way. You find a way to work it in to every conversation. Ugh! I immediately remember the verse in Proverbs about a dog returning to its vomit (Proverbs 26:11). This is an awful visual, but if you have ever owned a dog, you know it happens.
Living in the state of unforgiveness stunts your spiritual growth and eventually, sister, it will isolate you and rob you of your joy! This is definitely Satan’s sneaky plan. Satan wants to separate you from other believers who will speak the truth to you. Satan wants you to dwell in sadness and self-pity, so that he can devour you (1 Peter 5:8)!
If you don’t think this is an issue in your life, good for you. You are in the minority.
If you are brave and want to confirm that it is not an issue in your life, ask your spouse or a truthful sister in Christ.
Or, do this: mentally review the last 10 arguments you and your spouse had. Did you bring up the same past grievance in each of those arguments? If so, THAT GRIEVANCE is the BALL. That is the thing that still needs forgiveness.
Don’t waste another minute. Stop right now and pray and ask God to help you forgive your spouse. Allow God to heal your wounds (Romans 8:2). Drop the ball. Forgive and then trust the Holy Spirit to help you forget. When you finally drop that ball, it will feel like a giant weight has been lifted off of your shoulders. Rejoice, friends! Enjoy the freedom and joy! (Galatians 5:1)
Keep reading and stay washed in the Word, friend!
Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered (Psalms 32:1).