This has been an extremely hard summer.
This has been a summer of frustration, a summer of stress, and a summer of loneliness.
Looking back at this summer semester, Nate and I don't think we would have chosen for him to take so many classes if we knew how hard it was going to be. It has truly been God who has carried both Nate and me through these stressful past few months.
You see, marriage and relationship has always been so easy for Nate and me. I was always shocked when people talked about how "hard marriage is" because, for our seasons of dating and engagement and the first two years of marriage, everything had been so easy. I get it now. The stress of this summer made our marriage hard.
I'm going to be honest with all of you, Nate and I haven't handled our stress as well as we should have during this season. It's been our own fault that marriage has gotten hard. This stress has caused us to be selfish, self-centered, and self-absorbed - uncharacteristically so. Both of us have done and said stupid things that have offended and hurt one another. We haven't been serving and submitting to each other well. No, I'm not saying this has been what the whole summer's been like, but it's definitely been a lot more of an issue than it's ever been before. (And don't you all worry, this is simply a season that we're working through. Our marriage is doing 100% fine! We're just as crazy about each other as ever before.)
One night, about two weeks ago, Nate and I were lying in bed. I was extremely hurt over something Nate had done and was just so frustrated with how both of us had been behaving this summer. Nate pulled me into his arms, gave me a kiss, and expressed how very sorry he was for how inconsiderate he had been. He owned up to the fact that what he had done had been wrong and stupid and let me know that he completely understood why I was upset. Once I was reminded of the fact that he does value and respect me (why is it so easy to forget that?), it was so easy for me to genuinely forgive him and put the problem behind us. I rested easy, knowing that Nate was going to work hard to not have that situation repeat itself.
The next day, I was mulling over this situation. God was speaking so clearly into my heart regarding the cycle of stress, hurt, and forgiveness Nate and I have been in this summer. He reminded me of how often am I like Nate in the situation the night before, having done something stupid that completely hurts the Lord. How often is He heartbroken, frustrated, and offended by actions I choose to do with no regard for Him? How often does He long for me to just admit to Him that I am in the wrong so we can work through it and move on?
You see, the love I have for Nate makes it so completely easy to forgive him. How much bigger is God's love for me? Honestly, he loved me so much he DIED for me! Of course He loves me enough to forgive each and every thing I do against Him! Why do I enter His presence in fear? I am covered by the Blood of the Lamb! I am covered with the Love of Christ! I have a deep, intimate connection with the Lord. I am the Bride of Christ.
On the other side of things, the trust Nate has for me - the knowledge that I will forgive him - allowed him to freely confess and repent of his shortcomings to me. He longed to remain in a healthy relationship with me and knew that unexpressed wrongs weren't going to allow our relationship to remain healthy. Isn't that the way I should view my relationship with the Lord? I should have the mindset that any unexpressed wrongs will only hinder my relationship with Him. I should be running to confess to Him in order to maintain our trusting, loving relationship. It's not like He doesn't know what's going on in my life. Just like I was already hurt by what Nate had done, the Lord is already hurt by what I do. He is so ready to forgive me, though - so much more ready than I am to forgive Nate!
It's amazing to me how stress, hurt, and frustration can truly lead to such a revelation about the way I should relate with the Lord! God is so good, speaking to us, even in times of weakness. I pray that you will truly understand what a wonderful blessing it is to be able to turn to the Lord, even in our mess ups!
(And trust me, this isn't me throwing Nate under the bus - just ask him how big of a brat I was on Tuesday night. That time it was me on the confessing side. Thankfully, Nate's a wonderfully forgiving man.)