Early in our marriage, I had learned the value of not turning out the lights until Hubby and I had taken steps to settle our disagreements. Not every detail was resolved before we fell asleep, but we agreed to not be angry with each other before our heads hit the pillows.
With the passing of years and the deepening of our love, I have allowed myself to be lulled into a false sense of security that has robbed me of the diligence I once practiced. Caution in following the admonition, “Do not let the sun go down on your anger” has been replaced with a nonchalant attitude that the problem can be solved the next day.
Just the other night we found ourselves creating a tension-filled evening as we focused more on our needs rather than being sensitive to each others’ requests. When reason did not seem to dominate, I climbed the stairs to our bedroom, closed the door, and sat down to sulk in my self-centered arm chair.
Eventually, I returned to our family room, the air cold for a summer night. Hubby apologized. I nodded grudgingly. So hard I hold on to that bitterness. Nothing more was said before we hit the pillows.
My head dented the pillow, seeking rest, but the fluffy softness escaped me as the evening’s events played on the walls of my mind. I heard the Spirit whisper, “Do not let the sun go down on your anger.” I tried to ignore the voice, deeming the next morning would be soon enough to settle the problem. Anyway, how could wounded hearts tossed around like a salad be soothed so quickly?
The next morning came earlier than expected with an upset stomach. As I was wandering around the house I noticed the boys’ bathroom door was closed and a towel pressed against the threshold like a winter door warmer. Hubby was awake and beginning his morning routine when I announced the odd circumstances I had discovered.
Hubby obliged me and went to check out the situation. When he opened the door, I heard those awful words, “Oh, no!” he exclaimed. “We’ve been invaded by hundreds of those black bugs in here. They’re crawling all over the room. And they’re breeding.”
The thought made me squeamish. There was no way I could attack the droves in the bathroom or live with them there all day. Hubby became the exterminator, swatting and squishing, pouring bleach down the sink and overflow drains, eradicating the majority, and slamming the door shut tight on the remainder before he left for work–late! If I had only slammed the door on the enemy of our souls in the same way the night before!
Dennis Rainey of Family Life wrote an article on forgiveness in marriage. How important it is. And why we avoid it. Jesus made the command to forgive clear when he taught the apostles how to pray, Rainey points out. “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14&15 NIV)
“…God insists that we are to be ‘forgivers,’ and marriage–probably more than any other relationship–presents frequent opportunities to practice,” Rainey said. “Forgiving means giving up resentment or the desire to punish the another person…I often advise married couples to take out a joint membership in the Seventy times Seven Club (Matthew18:21-22). In other words, forgive an infinite number of times, not just when you feel like it,” he concluded.
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After eliminating the bug problem in our home, I began to eliminate the bug problem in my heart. Hubby and I talked. I forgave. And I read.
“‘In your anger do not sin.’ Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” Ephesians 4:26&27 NIV