The Gift that Keeps on Forgiving

Hardcover book gutter and pages

A couple of years ago, Gary (hubster) lent one of my books to a friend. After 24 years of marriage, our books live “commune-style”—what’s mine is Gary’s and what’s Gary’s is mine. I, however, don’t always like this arrangement, which brings me back to the “lent book situation.”
Now, don’t get me wrong. Gary didn’t lend out my book thinking that it was mine. He would’ve asked me first before lending it out. And since friendliness and hospitality are two of Gary’s gifts, the book found its way to another’s hands and home.
This went unnoticed by both Gary and me for nearly two years until I wanted to write the post I’ve been promising on how to set boundaries. So I hunted high and low, because we have three levels where the books reside … “commune-style.”
I asked Gary if perhaps he’d taken it to his office at church. It was then that he remembered he’d lent it out long ago. Now, he had dutifully recorded who had borrowed the book, but was lenient on the return policy, I suppose.
This was a moment of frustration for me. I had to quickly change gears on the direction of a post I was going to write that was due the very next day.
Yep, I was not happy.
So days later, just as we sat down to eat my birthday dinner at the restaurant of my choice, Gary dropped a double-whammy on my plate … the person who’d borrowed the book could not find it, so I would have to order another one.
Now, not only would I have to wait to write my post until my new book arrived, but I would also have to reread the entire book in order to highlight all the important places that were previously conveniently marked for me.
Yep, I was not happy.
Now, before I go on. I want to say that Gary fully understood the agony he’d just put me through (he’s a book person too) and apologized profusely. Also, I’m not blaming the person who borrowed the book either, because we may still have the book somewhere in one of the many unpacked boxes in our back bedroom (don’t get me started on that slight frustration!).
The point is, my perspective on forgiveness has changed and I forgave Gary immediately.  
I didn’t just initiate a forgiveness process, as I had once believed was necessaryI just forgave. Formerly, I thought that the decision to forgive could not be initiated and completed in one step. I felt there was always a need to process the hurt. But since attending a class with Everett Worthington, I now feel that the decision to forgive is equally valid and separate from the emotional process of forgiveness.
All that to say, little irritations like this one (and bigger irritations that will go unmentioned) can and should be forgiven immediately. Sure, there are those offenses that cut to the bone and require processing as well. But there are so many days that are filled with small annoyances or minor insults that need to be immediately forgiven in Gary, in my sons, in so many others. And hopefully I will receive that same gift of forgiveness too …
because we all hurt the ones we love every now and then.
This Christmas and every day before and after, I want to give the gift of forgiveness that Christ came to earth to give to you and me.
It’s simple.
It’s loving.
It doesn’t require a bow.
But it does require trust in the One who redeems all our hurts. 

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13 (NIV)

Photo by Horia Varlan (Flickr)

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  1. Pam A Mueller says:

    Loved it! I like the idea that there are certainly things that are able to be resolved the way the Bible describes simply ‘overlooking an offense.’
    Have I borrowed one of Gary’s books lately? :o)

  2. messymarriage says:

    I haven’t wanted to make it so simple. I’ve resisted, I think, because people tend to take forgiveness lightly. But then, Christ made it simple for us to surrender it all to Him, didn’t He?

    Thanks for coming by, Pam. And no, haha, you don’t have any of Gary’s books or mine either! 🙂

  3. I would have to work hard to forgive the lending of one of “my” books without permission. 😉 But what a great example of how we can live with a commitment to forgiveness so that when an offense rises, we don’t have to make a long drawn-out decision about it; we know we forgive. Then and there. The feelings may take longer to dissipate, but the forgiveness is a done-deal.

  4. messymarriage says:

    Haha! You’re with us on the grieving of a lost book, huh?! Gotta love a fellow book lover!

    And yes, it is so simple when I’ve wanted to make it more complex. God is so good to handle the hard part for us. Thanks for stopping by, Lisa.

  5. Erica Hale says:

    Thanks for your comment on my blog! I am so glad you did, because through it I found your blog. I am enjoying reading your words and your heart, what a blessing!

    Thank you, too, for the reminder to forgive quickly! It is a guilty pleasure to nurse that hurt and let it grow, one that helps nobody and closes off your heart. It’s always good to be reminded that it’s simple to stop the enemy in his tracks by simply forgiving!

  6. joan taylor says:


    Such rich truth found here. I am in the process of writing a post on forgiveness. You have broaden my perspective.

    Thanks for wisdom shared.

    Abundant Blessings,


  7. Chasenajsmom says:

    LOVE THIS-“the decision to forgive is equally valid and separate from the emotional process of forgiveness.”
    Thanks Beth!

  8. messymarriage says:

    Thanks, Kimberly! You’re a great encourager. *

  9. messymarriage says:

    I’m so glad I gave you some food for thought regarding forgiveness. It’s a subject that is near and dear to my heart as well. Thanks for stopping by, Joan.

  10. messymarriage says:

    I’m glad you like my blog! That’s such a great encouragement, Erica! And yes, hanging on to those angry feelings can feel comforting in a weird sort of way. But I really like what you said, “stops the enemy in his tracks by simply forgiving.” Nuff said! 😉

  11. Amy Thornton says:

    Thank you for this timely and heart-felt reminder of the importance of forgiving. I struggle with this so much. And I just need to decide to forgive. To set aside my pride, my hurt, my selfishness and just forgive. You’re right, Christ came to give it to us and we should give it to others. Thanks again for this post.

  12. Beth,

    Thank you for this post on forgiveness. It’s so easy for us as women, especially, to wait until we “feel” the forgiveness before acting on it. I appreciate your post, that it’s a decision and can be made on the spot. And another simple reminder that we often need to apply the “seventy times seventy” principle, forgiving over and over again.

    Keep up the posts coming!


  13. My response would have been, “Hey, honey, since you lent my book to someone and they didn’t return it, I’d say that’s a reason to get another like book, plus an additional one and a treat (for pain and suffering).”

  14. What better gift could we give than the gift He gave: forgiveness!

  15. There will always be irritations and I do believe God allows all of it so we can be “sandpapered”, and made pure, so we can live with Him in our eternal home! I too got very mad with my husband once, and not just for lending something of mine, but for GIVING something that my dad gave me! As my husband came from a lay brother’s community where things were commonly owned, it was something that came naturally to him, seeing as I was not using the camera he gave away. There was some shouting but we did come to an understanding. I forgave him and he forgave me!

  16. messymarriage says:

    Thanks, Amy, for stopping by and weighing in on a “weighty” subject. I’m so glad you’re deciding, as I am, to forgive and forgive and forgive, as we follow the example of the Great Forgiver! 🙂

  17. messymarriage says:

    I know, I keep hearing that quote from the Bible running through my brain when I consider “forgiveness.” It’s such a good reminder. Thanks for stopping by and encouraging me, Claire. You’re the best!

  18. messymarriage says:

    Yeah, I’m getting the exact copy (since the paperback is all that’s in print now). I wouldn’t settle for less. I liked my nice hardback. In fact, it came today. Now, the pain and suffering part – I’m getting a Macbook for Christmas. I think that qualifies! 🙂 Thanks for your support, Nikole!

  19. messymarriage says:

    It truly is the best gift! Thanks for stopping by, Shanda!

  20. messymarriage says:

    I totally agree, Patsy. I think that marriage is a constant opportunity to “sand” each other’s character. Even with the little misunderstanding, I appreciate “the Sander” God has given me in my life. haha! Thanks for stopping by and so glad everything got worked out for you and your hubby!