A powerful, thought-provoking insight....

Give me a well-trained tongue that has been borne out of silent listening in the sanctuary of my heart.

~ sevensacredpauses by Macrina Wiederkehr

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Love, Marriage, and Forgiveness

Recently, I had the honor of presiding at the wedding of a friend of mine. The bride and I had worked diligently together, crafting a beautiful, spiritually meaningful ceremony. When it came time to write my homily, I reflected on First Corinthians 13:4-7, 13:

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things....And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three, and the greatest of these is love.

The bride and groom came to this marriage with their eyes wide open, as well as their hearts. We have just heard God’s take on love and all that it is. It is beautiful, powerful, and inspiring. Yet, how many of us, married or not, accomplish this sort of love in our own lives?

We were given this beautiful description of love and all of its characteristics to give us hope, to give us encouragement to work at love and loving one another so that one day we might say we know this sort of love in our relationships. Yet, we do already, as Christians, experience this sort of love. It comes with our acceptance of Christ into our hearts. We know that this sort of love is how God loves us. Through this love, we have our faith; through this love, we know hope.

How, then, can we bring this sort of love to bear on our lives and into our relationships?

To accomplish that, takes work, the sort of work which begins with prayer and continues with open and honest conversation. Sounds like a recipe for a good marriage! Marriage is best begun with prayer and continued with open and honest conversation.

No marriage exists in which there is always agreement, feelings are never hurt, space is never invaded, and forgiveness never needed. Every marriage has days where arguments arise, words are spoken and later regretted, and forgiveness is required. The thing is, when we strive to have the sort of love in our hearts that God desires for us, we survive the arguments and we can ask our beloved for forgiveness -- forgiveness which is given because of and through this great love in our hearts. Yet, for forgiveness to have any healing power at all, it needs to be truly received by the one asking for it. Our ability to receive forgiveness takes a willingness to first forgive ourselves which is hard work sometimes.

It might be said that forgiveness is the work of love as well as the work of marriage. Be ready, willing, able to say, “I’m sorry,” owning and naming whatever you said or did. Be ready, willing, able to say, “I forgive you” and mean it. If it takes a couple of days or even a week to get to that point, say it. The more you forgive each other within this great and powerful love, the more truth you speak and the more love there is…deep and abiding love…which will carry a couple, a family, a friendship through the years ahead in an abundance of joy!

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