Inside the pages: an excerpt from
Keeping It Fresh – A Love tht Keeps on Growing,
by Pete and Bev Caruso
From Chapter Thirteen – Getting Past the Past through Forgiveness
Start on the Right Foundation
Ideally a marriage begins with both a man and woman having a personal walk with God. They’ve saved themselves for one another—not just their bodies, but their hearts as well. During their time of engagement they are open and transparent about themselves: their dreams, their goals, and their past. Then they come together to form a covenant relationship and establish a family unit. They can expect that God can and will bless their marriage with peace, fulfillment, and contentment.
Few couples begin married life this way. Most have had little preparation for marriage. They’ve tasted of promiscuity. They have histories of various transgressions against God and their spouse-to-be. They hide their past from one another. Essentially they assume that when they walk down the aisle to say their vows everything will be like the fairy tales of childhood: ”…and they lived happily ever after.” This is like finding a plot of land, gathering building materials, and starting construction without taking time to lay a foundation. Jesus compared building such a structure with “a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rains came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Most of us need to go back and repair the structure of our marriage. But where would we begin?
We can spend time together before the Lord in prayer. Beginning with our life before we were married, we may need to repent of promiscuity of our youth, with others or with our eventual spouse. We need to ask God to help us to deal with those areas of our lives and our relationships of which we haven’t repented.
How Does Forgiveness Work?
Forgiveness is a decision to trust God by faith. It has nothing to do with how we feel. “As your words are taught, they give light.” All we need to understand about how to drive a car is to turn the key and guide the wheel—we don’t have to know how it happens. It’s that way with faith. We know His principle of forgiveness works, we apply it and we’re free.
Pete was talking with a woman past eighty years of age who was filled with bitterness that affected all those who knew her. She confessed to Pete that her father had molested her when she was young. The pain of it had poisoned her spirit all those years. He suggested that she should forgive the man who violated her. After making the decision to do so, she experienced a peace she thought she would never know.
A pastor friend told us about a counseling experience he had. The wife had deep bitterness toward her husband and didn’t want to forgive him. She believed she hadn’t done anything wrong and actually seemed to find comfort in nursing her grudge.
The pastor asked her to read the Lord’s Prayer aloud. When she got to the part, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors,” tears began to flow. At last she was able to see her sin of unforgiveness as being just as wrong as those things she held against her husband. She had failed to notice that little word “as,” which means “in the same way as.”
Keep the Relationship Clean by Forgiving Immediately
We may think that by stuffing it, we’re not giving place to bitterness. Rather we are merely pushing it down into our spirits. We are supposed to “bear one another’s burdens.” That burden carried by the other person may be an immature attitude; a wounded spirit, or a broken heart, any of which can spill over into hurts toward us. An amazing aspect of this is that they usually don’t even know they’ve hurt us. We are to do as Jesus did on the cross when He prayed, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” When we learn to bear it and not stuff it, the result will be a new ability to accept our spouse as he or she is, with their weaknesses and the hurts they inflict on us. We will be free to love them freely, just as Christ loves us.
© Beverly Caruso