Giving Grace When it’s Hard and Goes Unnoticed

One of the hardest challenges of living out grace in my marriage has and continues to be extending grace (my “one word”) when it has gone unnoticed or does not get returned. I think that’s because positives can easily go under the radar for most everyone—especially and including by me! 😉

The negatives, the bad behavior, the hurts and insults capture my and my spouse’s attention so much more, than any choice we make to not argue or complain or point out the other’s bad attitude. #quietgood #loudbad

God sees

So how do you and I move beyond this tendency to give grace only when it gets noticed and returned? 

How do we move beyond the tendency to extend grace to our mates only when it gets noticed or returned? #marriageishard Click To Tweet

Well, I’ve come up with a list of five ways that I’m working on this in my marriage. And I hope it gives you some ideas for extending grace to your mate and others in life as well.

5 Ways to Extend Grace No Matter What …

1. Focus on the good in each moment.

This really adjusts my attitude back to where it should be when it gets out-of-joint. No matter how my spouse acts or whether he notices the grace I’ve extended and returns the favor, it’s always right and good for me to extend God’s grace.

  • I can also focus on the good it’s developing in me, especially when I must surrender my mate to God’s capable hands.
  • I can also rejoice in the truth that the grace I extend is encouraging my mate, whether my spouse realizes it or not.
  • In time and with consistency on my part, the grace I extend will be used by God to draw my mate closer to Him. Yes! I truly believe and have seen this in my marriage!

2. Recognize that extending grace when it is difficult grows our faith in God.

Every single time that you and I persevere in extending grace, even when it goes unnoticed, unappreciated or reciprocated, it strengthens our faith. How cool is that? It’s like we’ve done our spiritual work-out every time we stretch our faith and grace muscles.

3. Remind ourselves that God IS working in the “unseen.” 

I think God works most in “unseen” or spiritual ways, versus in our earthly and obvious circumstances. And that’s why our faith is so very important to our growth and strength as Christ-followers. If we knew all that God is doing in any difficult and unjust moment, I think it would blow our minds and bring us to our knees in gratitude and praise!

4. Give grace to our mates as unto the Lord.

I try to do this more than my mate might ever know. And this might be the biggest motivator for me too, when I am feeling especially irritated with my guy. I never want to let the Lord down. So I look to Him for the strength and “grace” to extend grace to my husband—doing so as my gift to God, when I don’t feel like giving to my man.

5. Come before the “throne of grace” in prayer whenever we feel weak.

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” ~Hebrews 4:16

You gotta know where I'll be spending most of my time in 2018! At the foot of God's throne of grace! #oneword Click To Tweet

Next week I’ll be sharing 24 ways that I’m biblically nailing down my efforts to show and grow in grace, along with a tool that you can use to determine how to better live out your “one word” in 2018. Click the link to read more posts in this Grow in Grace Series.

You might have also noticed from the graphic above that MM now has two domain names: messymarriage.com and teammatemarriage.com. Both addresses will bring you here; but over the next few months, I’ll hopefully be showing off a new header that highlights the teammate part of this change. I still will focus on the messiness of marriage, but will add the idea that we can move our messy marriages to teammate marriages with God’s help. I hope you’ll keep coming back and visiting! 

 

What is another way to keep on extending grace when marriage and relationships get messy and hard?

 

Which of the five strategies that I shared do you want to incorporate more in your marriage and relationships?

 

Grace - One word

Grace


Here are some lovely linkups I join – Inspire Me MondayMoments of HopeLiterary Musing MondaysDream Together LinkupJennifer Dukes LeeGlimpses LinkupTune in TuesdayBreak Through Homeschooling LinkupCoffee for Your HeartSitting Among FriendsFaith and FriendsFresh Market Friday, and DanceWithJesusFriday

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Comments

  1. Grace was my one word the first year I chose one in 2013. I wanted grace to become my default response instead of defensiveness. I still need to work on letting grace, at all times, be how I treat others, including my husband and myself.

    • It is also a word that I think about and try to live out better every year, it seems as well, Debbie. I never want to lose sight of it or stray too far from that focus, no matter what word I choose in any given year. I too struggle with defensiveness. I want to learn to empty myself of pride, pretense or self-protection but it seems to stick to me like warm gum on my fingers. Thanks for stopping by and encouraging me!

  2. I try to follow #1 and #4. I know that acting with grace brings me closer to God, and I enjoy that. I think showing grace is part of recognising the grace that knowing Jesus brings me.

    I am not so good at forgiving & forgetting past hurts: I will nurse a resentment and blurt something out. So as a kind of companion to your #1 I might add “forgive and forget – at the first opportunity”.

    I am not good at your #5. I would like to pray more “in the moment” rather than at set times. Learn to get in and out of a prayerful mindset quickly. Or learn to be in a prayerful mindset all the time!

    Really nice post 🙂 David

    • I am better at 4 than 1, but want to make each of these a high priority and focus when I get bogged down in my life and marriage, David. Yes! So true! That’s what helps me as well–to know Jesus extends grace to me in every moment and need I have. Great addition to number 1–forgiving and forgetting. And when we can’t forget, we can certainly let it go to Christ to deal with instead of ruminating on it. And yes, praying in the moment is only a habit I’ve begun in the past 5 or so years. I would pray afterwards, but not be present enough to think to pray in the present! 😉 Now, I’m making that shift much more quickly and easily, but still always a work-in-progress. Thanks for your kind words and additional insights, my friend!

  3. Stacey Pardoe says:

    This is such powerful truth! Whether in our marriages or other relationships, learning to extend grace when it’s unmerited or unappreciated is very difficult. God certainly uses these times to conform us to his image!

    • Yes, Stacey. We are so wired for self-protection when the Lord is all the protection we need! Thanks for visiting and joining the conversation, my friend!

  4. Fascinating, Beth … it makes me realize how much I do is motivated by factors that are unlovely, manipulative, and decidedly not Christ-honoring.

    Good wake-up call as ever, friend …

    • Yes, when we really boil it all down it truly is very unflattering to say the least! Thank you for always being a great cheerleader here in this space. I don’t know what I would do without you stopping by with your sweet smile and uplifting and kind words to me, Linda!

  5. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser says:

    Great post, Beth. You’re starting 2018 strong.

    Only suggestion I have is to express gratitude for small and routine things…like handing you the remote, or your spouse’s normal ‘chores’.

    “Thank you for taking care of the lawn. The yard always looks really nice.” Or, “Thank you for the care you give to the laundry; I love the way my clothing smells so fresh.”

    Little things, as the song says, mean a lot.

    https://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2018/01/your-dying-spouse-439-final-thoughts.html

    • Thank you, Andrew! Good point. Often it is the mundane things that get overlooked but gratitude shows so much grace in those subtle but crucial moments in every marriage and relationship. Yes, they do mean a lot–maybe more than the bigger affirmations. Thanks for adding to the conversation, my friend! And ways good to see you here in this space. Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers daily!

  6. Melanie Redd says:

    Great word today, Beth.
    I love how practical this post is.
    I’m sharing it with my friends~
    Blessings,
    Melanie

    • Thank you, Melanie! I so appreciate your kind words to me in the FB group and for sharing with your friends. It means a lot to me coming from you, my friend!

  7. JosephPote says:

    Very good post, Beth!

    A few thoughts come to mind. First, whether or not my spouse recognizes what I do, God does recognize it. So it is never wasted effort. Every time I choose to acting in a loving manner toward my spouse, Jesus recognizes my effort and accepts it as having been done for Him. How cool is that? 🙂

    The second is where it gets really hard for me. I know from personal prior experience how wrong things can get when one spouse gives and gives and gives without appreciation and/or reciprocation. So, I view it as very important to communicate when my feelings are hurt, or when I feel unappreciated. At the same time, I don’t want it to all be about me or my gratification, either.

    That balance is sometimes hard to find.

    A couple of things that seem to help me are, first, to realize timing can be important. Sometimes it’s better to respond lovingly in the moment, then at some later time bring up the hurt feelings for discussion. Second, when I can give both these to God, it tends to be so much easier…when both the loving while feeling unappreciated…and the communicating the fact that I felt unappreciated…are not about me (even when it’s my feelings being discussed) but are about doing what God asks me to do out of love for my spouse and commitment to our relationship…it tends to work better.

    And…as you know…I’m working on learning to LISTEN better…and this includes trying to understand where my wife is coming from even when I feel unappreciated…and that plays a role in the conversation dynamics as well.

    Blessings to you, my friend!

    • Great point, Joe! I don’t know why I didn’t state that, but I’m glad you have here in the comments. Yes, communicating our needs and disappointments can also be a gracious act, especially when an ongoing abuse or boundary-violation is occurring. It is ungracious to not address it–although it should always be communicated in the most gracious and respectful of ways. Sometimes we need help with that, especially when there has been longstanding hurt and wounds. Agreed. It can’t simply be for our own gratification. It is a hard balance to strike, for sure!

      Yes! Timing is everything! I had a post years ago about how talking about a hurt right after it has been said or done is like touching a cake that is freshly out of the oven. We need to let it cool before touching it and certainly need “oven mitts”–like prayer–to guard and prepare our hearts for approaching the conversation.

      Good for you–on listening and applying that to your relationship with your wife as well, Joe. I’m sure she senses your desire to honor and respect her by the way you wait to form an opinion by listening well first and foremost. Thanks for stopping by and adding to the conversation!

  8. Loved this Beth! So helpful to use in the heat of the moment. Going to keep handy for future reference 😉

  9. We are so prone to make assessments about what is or is not going on by what we can see and that leads to big mistakes. we as believers need to trust what God says even when we have no evidence… after all, that’s what faith is all about.

  10. I haven’t been the best grace extender to my spouse of these last few years. I am thankful God continues to teach me how important it is to the health of our marriage.

  11. Spot on, Beth! I find it especially difficult to get over the grumpy feeling that my spouse should be extending grace at an equal rate that I KNOW I’m extending grace ;).

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  1. […] Show grace (patience, forgiveness) to my husband (in particular), even when he and others do not show it to me.  See my last post on this. […]