Marriage has taught me the art of a humble, sincere apology. Even more, the art of humble, sincere forgiveness.
Not many people require my endless forgiveness or my endless repentance. But the person who sees my most authentic self, the one with whom I live, with whom I build my life, with whom I strive for Heaven? I find countless moments that require apologies and forgiveness.
The type of mercy Jesus refers to in today’s Gospel (Matthew 18:21–19:1)—mercy given freely and without delay—is only possible by His grace.
Asking for forgiveness over and over again requires humility. When I unintentionally hurt my spouse, I come face-to-face with my sinfulness. But to run from my brokenness would be to run from reconciliation. So the Lord invites me to humble myself in the midst of my mess, to ask forgiveness, and to seek healing.
On the flip side, the act of forgiving is also only possible by the grace of God. To be unintentionally wronged by the one I love is painful. But in His own merciful love, Jesus grants me the grace to be “moved with compassion” (Matthew 19:1).
In these moments, when my husband and I approach one another, sorry and sad, we hug and beg, “Be patient with me” (Matthew 18:21).
God is a patient and generous teacher (see Alleluia). He has given us His Word, and the eyes with which to see and the ears with which to hear (see Ezekiel 12:2). And His Word tells us that the path to lasting peace and reconciliation is humility, repentance, and forgiveness. When we truly forgive one another, we give the world a glimpse of the merciful love of God.
I have the blessing of living and learning this alongside the person I love most.
Forgiving and seeking forgiveness both require humility and bravery, honesty and action, sincerity and resolve. Only by His grace is this truly possible and, thankfully, He gives it freely.