Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The night my husband slept outside the bedroom door.



And, I laid there in the hallway feeling utterly forgiven, grace-lended, and more loved by God than I had in a very, very long time. God's presence swelled into a glorious forgiveness song that filled our home and relationship with His peace and love.

That is the end of the story. It just seemed like the best place to start.

Last night, after our pastor, J.D. Greear posted on his blog what my husband had shared with a friend's 15 year-old son on dating and marriage, a friend asked us what was behind one particular point:

"Never ever sleep on the couch. If necessary, sleep on the floor outside the bedroom door."

He asked if that had ever happened to us. Well, it has. And this one moment was paramount in my life as I began to understand what true love and forgiveness could look like inside my young marriage.

Now that I've shared the end with you, let's start at the beginning.

Just a couple of months into my marriage, I stood in our bedroom shouting across the bed. My husband tried to reason back in what would be our first and most heart-wrenching argument. I cried. He clammed up. I shouted some more. I cried some more. And, he just shook his head in frustration.

It was late. I was devastated and angry and hurt and so very prideful. I ran down the hallway and slammed and locked the door to the guest room.

Please, Lord. Let him come after me.

I cried as hard as I could cry into the pillow. I cried because I knew I was wrong. I was so stubborn and would not yield, and my pride and I were now laying alone in the twin bed in our guest room.

He gently rapped on the door.

"Go away. Just leave me alone."

Please, Lord. Let him rap on the door, again.

Nothing.

A few minutes later, the light in the hallway went out, and I wept into my pillow until I fell asleep.

Early the next morning, I awoke alone. I woke up with that awful feeling that something was wrong, but wasn't sure right away exactly what it was.

And, then I remembered.

The fight. My shouting. Our first argument. The bed that usually brought us together separating us like an ocean between two continents.

I felt the tears start to well up in my already puffy eyes, again, and I moved the blankets aside to head down to our bedroom to find my husband and ask him to forgive me.

I opened our guest room door, and there it was.

Forgiveness.

It was laying on a pillow on the floor in the hallway. Right outside our guest room door. Covered in a way-too-small blanket, and sleeping.

It was my husband.

I knelt down next to him, and he opened the blanket and I crawled under and as close to him as I could get. We talked about what had happened, and I asked for forgiveness. The sweep of his fingers across my cheeks as I wept was just one of the many signs of his true and heartfelt forgiveness I felt that morning. He forgave me without hesitation.

I asked my husband why he slept outside my door. "To be as close to you as I could", he responded.

He was the offended. I was the offender. His love for me, his love for Christ, his desire for restoration and healing caused him to pursue me when he would have been justified in waiting for me to come begging for forgiveness.

And, I laid there in the hallway feeling utterly forgiven, grace-lended, and more loved by God than I had in a very, very long time. God's presence swelled into a glorious forgiveness song that filled our home and relationship with His peace and love.

This picture of forgiveness plays over and over in my mind as I walk through life. It was such a powerful tool in teaching me that repentance and forgiveness are at the cornerstone of every successful relationship - marriage, friendship, siblings, parent/child.

For the forgiver, what an opportunity to extend God's love and grace to someone who doesn't deserve it.

It could change someone's life. It changed mine.

As my young sons grow into men, they will be hurt, offended and betrayed more times than I can bear to think about. And, most frequently, by those close to them.

It is how they respond to those offenses that will reveal the true depth of their character.

My hope for them is that they learn to respond in love, servanthood, forgiveness, and grace.

Their father modeled this for me early on in our marriage. It was something I didn't understand, but the night he slept outside our bedroom door showed me a beautiful picture of what true, Christ-like forgiveness looks like.

After almost 20 years of marriage, I'm still learning. But, I pray that I can model for my young daughter a life and marriage characterized by a willingness to forgive - as I teach her how to be a pursuer of forgiveness as well.

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