Jun 21, 2012

Flowers Fade Friday: Peace

I've always considered myself a forgiving person. I cannot hold a grudge. I wouldn't classify myself as bitter. I have always been good at maintaining friendships and overcoming hurt feelings.

If I have ever been close to being bitter, it was toward my mother during those angsty early teenage years. But even then I could not stay mad longer than a day. I almost considered it a curse at the time. It annoyed me that I was so forgiving and could not remain mad at anyone, even my own mother who, in my 8th grade eyes, was wronging me in every way. {Love you, mom. Glad those days are behind us}.

Thankfully, I have matured from my fourteen year-old way of thinking and I have come to learn that my inability to hold a grudge is a blessing not a curse. I am thankful that I am not prone to harbor bitterness and I don't have to trudge my way through life with a hundred chips on my shoulder. The ability to forgive is a gift from the Lord.

But I have also learned that I am not quite as gracious and forgiving as I like to make myself out to be. If marriage has taught me anything, it has shown me how bitterness likes to reside in the recesses of my heart. It is almost invisible, but deadly.

I love my husband to the utmost, and I'm incredibly thankful for my marriage; however, there have been times in our relationship, especially during our engagement and in the first year of our marriage that I felt so wronged by Micah. He had hurt my feelings, been thoughtless, been selfish, been harsh. He was wrong. He owed me an apology. He needed to repent. And all I could do was cry out to God about the injustice done to me. {Disclaimer: I am in no way trying to make Micah out to be a bad guy. The truth is that marriage is up close and personal, and each spouse's sin is very apparent every day. I sin against Micah, he sins against me, and we are both in desperate need of a Savior.}

Then I would forgive him. In theory. I would say the words "I forgive you." I would put a smile on my face. Fix him a sandwich for lunch. Go on my merry way as the gracious and forgiving person that I am.

Or so I thought.

But when put to the test, in those moments when I felt wronged yet again or I slipped too far into my own thoughts and began to tally up the injustices done against me, I realized that I am not the forgiving victim I make myself out to be. And it's not just in my marriage... it's just that my messed up idea of forgiveness is most magnified in my marriage.

I have this journal that I've written in on and off since Micah and I were engaged. On the front is a picture of two birds, and the bigger bird is handing a leaf to the smaller bird {in my mind, it's an olive branch of peace}. And that is how my sinful heart sees myself in my marriage {and probably in all of my relationships if I'm honest}. I am the smaller bird, innocent in every way, and he is the bigger bird, capable of doing so much wrong to little me. He owes me an olive branch of peace.

But in recent weeks, I've been convicted of this lie floating around in my head and my heart. Yes, there are times when Micah is in the wrong and should repent, but I am not in charge of him. I am in charge of me...

In God's eyes, I am always the bigger bird. I am the one that holds an olive branch of peace. It's a branch of peace that is given to me by Jesus. I cannot muster up the humility and love needed for true forgiveness on my own. I am not naturally the world's most forgiving person, the way I like to think I am. I am a sinner. I don't really have an ounce of forgiveness at my core. I have selfishness, defensiveness, and a sinful desire to squash those who hurt me. The olive branch of peace is not mine. It is a gift Christ gave to me when he hung upon that cross. And it is a gift He teaches me to pass on to others.

As God changes my thinking, I realize I hold the weighty honor of a branch of peace. It sits in my hand like it sits in the beak of a small humble bird, and although it is small, it holds more life than I ever thought possible.

But God does not flippantly give this command to extend this branch of peace to others. He doesn't tell us to forgive, forgive, forgive and then turn His back on us as we get squashed and abused in our humility.

No, He promises good things to those who are willing to pass on the peace that He has given to us. He says that a harvest of righteousness will be sown by those who make peace {James 3:18}. He says that those who plan peace will have great JOY {Proverbs 12:20}. He promises to give us peace when our own minds and hearts are troubled {Isaiah 26:3/John 14:27}.

So here I am. Just a girl with a big leafy branch in her hand. I didn't put it there. The Prince of Peace gave it to me. But with a sparkle in his eye, He gives me a nod and a gentle push and tells me to pass it on to others.

*Linking up with Casey Leigh*


  1. Samara6/22/12, 3:50 AM

    You write so beautifully and so many of your posts truly do 'speak' to me. I can relate to every part of this post (except take out your husband and insert my husband :P)...Definitely feeling challenged. Thank you, x

  2. Lyndsy6/22/12, 4:03 AM

    Ditto. Your writing is great. I'd looove to pass this post on to a friend who's in the first year of her marriage and seriously struggling to forgive.

  3. Ruthie Hart6/22/12, 8:21 AM

    last month we talked about being in God's peace at small group...nothing is possible if you aren't in his peace. It is a BEAUTIFUL trait to not hold a grudge, it is a gift from God!

  4. Chelsea6/22/12, 9:35 AM

    Yes, so beautifully put. Sometimes I am just so focused on how I'm not given the respect/consideration/love that I "deserve" and all that does is pull my focus away from my purpose. The power to forgive and live in contentment is definitely only through Christ!

  5. GingerPeachT6/22/12, 10:34 AM

    Wow what a revelation! I totally agree with you. Marriage brings out more of our sinful desires and selfishness. I'm going onto 2 years of being married and I'm seeing and understanding that more and more.
    My issue is having bitterness to my inlaws. They have been so critical to me and I know it hurts my hubby, so if you have any advice I'm all ears! Trying to forgive them honestly is tough :-)

  6. Anonymous6/22/12, 11:31 AM

    You are perhaps the most precious, refreshing, alive in the Lord blogger I have stumbled upon in a LONG time. Your light is shining sister.

  7. honest, B6/22/12, 1:53 PM

    I absolutely LOVE this! Thank you for your honest & refreshing words!

  8. Annie6/22/12, 7:46 PM

    This is beautiful, Jen. It reminds me of that verse in the Beatitudes: "Blessed are the peacemakers..."

  9. Jordy Liz6/23/12, 6:45 PM

    i felt the same way during our first year... loved being able to relate to this post!

  10. Hi, I'm Sarah6/28/12, 10:36 AM

    Lovely, just lovely!

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