how they forgive

It’s October 2018, and high school teenagerdom is upon us.

Sometimes I forget that Mia is not actually seven years old, you guys. And of course it always shocks me when boys show an interest in her…and she shows it back.

She’s decidedly unready for all that the high school dating scene involves–the “rules” and expectations (mostly from everybody not in the actual relationship) have proven to be too much pressure for her, and she (thankfully) recognizes that, to be part of an official couple, she would potentially have to give up a good bit of her fun-loving, bubbly, social self–waters she’s admitted she’s unprepared to tread right at this second. #selfawareness: I love it.

That said, there’s one particularly precious kid who I’d legally betrothe Mia to in a heartbeat, if betrothing daughters was still a thing people did. (Does anyone have information on that?)

I hope all my girls grow up knowing what a healthy relationship looks like; I hope my own marriage is an example to Mia as she searches (or doesn’t; it’s whatever) for a godly husband in the future. But in case my model doesn’t measure up (not unlikely), here’s two extremes to ponder:

Solomon the King:

MEH. Let the record show that Toni’s never been incredibly impressed with this yahoo. Yeah sure, he was a young king who asked only for wisdom, and that was supes noble and all; God blessed him in wisdom and riches. If Beyoncé and Oded Fehr had a love child and Bill Gates adopted it, you’d have had Solomon: wise, handsome, famous, wealthy, loved, and respected. His temple was ridonk, and his legendary reputation as a legendary ladies man was surely the stoff of legends. The entire kingdom celebrated his first marriage to his first wife like he was frickin’ George Clooney.

Solomon started out well (That whole questionable threatening-to-cut-a-baby-in-half-thing not withstanding) but he did not finish strong. He let the people of Israel get into all kinds of voodoo shenanigans–and as for his husbanding? Well, for someone who supposedly delighted in the love of his life, wrote her all this awesome poetry…

…He really choked. Here’s how I picture it went down: “Hey—know what would be even cooler than one wife? If I married every female in a hundred mile radius and got me some concubines.” 1000 wives? That’s like 700 more wives than anyone needs. And nothing says “ya busted” quite like dumping the bride of your youth for 1000 other women. (Sex with a different woman every night for over three years anyone? That’s a whole lot of estrogen, y’all. No wonder he let the entire kingdom go to pot and started writing all this “Nothing is new under the sun” in Ecclesiasticus.) YOU HAD ONE JOB, SOLOMON.

Hosea, da real MVP:

Now here’s a picture of husbandly devotion and obedience to God if I’ve ever seen one.

“What’s that Lord?

“Marry a promiscuous gurl with a name like Gomer? Check.

“Wife runs away three times, out wildin’ and being a total hooker and you want me to buy her back every dang time? Check, check, and check.

“Raise all her illegitimate children as my own? Got it, doin’ it, done.”

Hosea was faith and love and mercy to the max, all rolled up into a lil ball of fun prophecy.

Wanna talk about radical obedience to God? Read Hosea. Wanna talk about how we’re supposed to forgive? Read Hosea.

For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgement of God rather than burnt offerings.

Hosea 6:6

My girls.

I hope and pray for all of you that the meaningfulness of any relationship isn’t lost on you–friends, acquaintances, brothers, sisters, leaders–God connects us and weaves our paths together for reasons usually unknown to us. But if you are a Christian, be a light.

This world is full of people who harm other people in the worst ways, and get away with it. White, black, rich, poor, fat, thin, educated, ignorant, rude, kind, legal, illegal–it’s sadly common to experience pain at the hands of another person at one point in time or another.

Make sure you are not one to dish out this pain. You are held to a higher law, a higher standard; do no harm as far as you can help it–and even farther than that, with God’s strength.

Shine light.

Show love to the unlovable.

Give hope to the hopeless.

Hate no one.

And, kids, my sweeties, my hearts: FORGIVE.

Marriages are hard.

Even though your dad and I are happy and blessed by God, my heart is breaking for our family members who are being ripped and shredded by the lack of love and forgiveness in their own marriages. My heart breaks for the horrible way I treated my first husband and for the bitterness I held onto for so many years following our divorce. I regret few things in life but meanness and hatefulness are things I wish I could take back.

Love, above all things; love.

Choose carefully. How does your future spouse love? Does he only seem to spend time with people who can benefit him in some way? Does she look down on inexpensive gifts and little gestures of kindness? Who does he hold grudges against, and why?

How does he forgive people who have hurt him? Flippantly, then lording offenses over someone for a undesignated amount of time? Or later calling in favors? Or does she withhold forgiveness completely, or at least until she feels a just punishment has been dealt?

How closely does he follow God? With casual words and semi-regular weekly attendance at a church he remains largely uninvolved in? Is he committed to the people in his church and in his community? Does he read and learn from daily prayer and bible study?

(Do you?)

Would he consider doing things for the Lord that make zero sense to his friends or his family?

How do we love? How do we forgive? How do we obey?

These answers are everything when it comes to the kind of spouse we will be; and the kind of spouse we need to look for; the kind of team we will be together for the building of the kingdom.

The people who love and forgive and obey? Learn from them. And hold onto them.


About Toni

Mom. Wife. Artist. I take care of the kids and pretend to clean sometimes. I can cook spagetti and I have never been arrested. View all posts by Toni

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