Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Control Box

Forgiveness is absolutely essential to any healthy marriage.  If you’ve been married for any amount of time at all, you can probably think of something your mate said or did that still quite honestly makes you cringe or makes your blood boil.  (Please note that I am NOT asking you to try and dredge up memories of past offenses.) 
Forgiveness is necessary because your mate is not perfect.  But then again, neither are you.  Because we are imperfect, fallible people we make mistakes.  We hurt each other.  Even the one we love more than any other.  And sometimes, we make the same mistakes over and over, even though we know it will cause our spouse pain.  I am not excusing or justifying bad behavior.  I am just saying that for a marriage to work, forgiveness must be freely given and freely received.  It must become a part of the fabric of who we are as husband and wife and as God’s children.
When you forgive, you surrender control to God.  When you don’t forgive, you surrender control to the one who offended you.  Let me say that again.  When you forgive, you surrender control to God.  When you don’t forgive, you surrender control to the one who offended you.  This is true of all relationships, but especially true in marriage.
You see, we all have a control box.  Your control box is that imaginary box covered with buttons, and when someone says or does something offensive, it “pushes your buttons.”  Due to intense, intimate familiarity, no one knows better how to push your buttons than your mate.  You spouse knows just the right words, the right look, the right tone and body language to use to initiate a response from you.
Now if you hold on to your control box, you remain the one in control.  But far too often, people willingly give over their control boxes to their mates.  (I am not talking about opening the door for vulnerability or authenticity or loving intimacy with your mate, which are good things.  I am talking about immediate, primal responses born out of anger or fear or mistrust.)  When that happens, the one who offended you not only committed the initial offense, but now he or she also has been given an ongoing control over you.
When you forgive, you take your control box back.  You release the situation to God and allow Him to begin to initiate healing and restoration of the relationship.  When you refuse to forgive, you allow your mate to keep a tight grip on your control box and to continue to perpetuate animosity and fragmenting of the relationship.
Depending on the circumstances and the gravity of the offense, forgiveness isn’t always easy.  But as long as you refuse to forgive you are surrendering control of the situation.  Lack of forgiveness is a poison root that, if not eradicated, can run deep and do untold damage.  Take control by surrendering to God and living a marriage over-flowing with forgiveness.

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.  (Matthew 6:14-15)

If you, LORD, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you. (Psalm 130:3-4)

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