Trying to Grasp Grace

My church has been doing a series that deals with God’s redemption in the midst of brokenness. And one of the main focuses has been on forgiveness.

I’ve done a lot of study and spent a lot of time trying to understand and exercise forgiveness in my life and marriage over the years. That is, in part, because during the early days of my marriage I was so bogged down by resentment. In fact, I feel one of the contributing factors to the development of my chronic disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, was the smoldering resentment I feasted on in those days. 
That resentment was part of what made my marriage messy
And thankfully, it’s also what God has used to open my eyes to my need to forgive and release the pain to Him.

But here I am, still pondering and not completely certain of how forgiveness works in some situations.

Now, I know how to choose to forgive. I know how to empathize with my offender. I know how to process through my hurts. I know how to grieve them. I even know how to maintain a forgiving spirit …

But what I don’t always know is when I should grasp grace and reject boundary setting (or truth telling) in a relationship. 

by cjmaru
Don’t get me wrong—I know that healthy boundaries are a good thing. But sometimes I feel God’s nudge to surrender it all to Him and let Him handle it. 
For example, if my husband does something that I feel is hurtful or offensive, the “counselor” side of me would want to talk that issue through—to gain greater clarity. And what happens when you talk it through, even if you do it in the most gentle and gracious way? I think it puts the focus on the wrong committed, the offender, and the requirement for correction. 
That may sound well and good when you’re all hot and bothered but then, if you’re like me, sometimes you hear God whisper …

“This needs grace, not correction.” 
I’m not saying that we should let our spouses take advantage of us by not addressing our hurts. Believe me, I’m not afraid to set a boundary or confront my spouse. My husband, Gary will tell you, “Far from it!”  I’m just wondering if it would heal the hurt more deeply, if we applied a healing salve instead of doing major surgery all the time. 
What would happen if we quit worrying so much about our own feelings and instead set out to protect our spouses’ feelings—by trusting fully in God’s power to protect us?
I know that “grace” can be abused. But I’m not talking here about enabling our spouses’ bad behavior. That’s because I know my spouse is fully aware (and yours may be too) of certain matters that we’ve discussed “ad nauseam,” and yet my hubby hears and feels God’s conviction much stronger and clearer when it comes from God and not from my human mouth. 
So maybe I don’t have to know when to grasp grace, after all. Maybe God is the One who will show me how to be like Christbeing the kind of spouse who’s known more for my kindness and mercy, than my need for justice and retribution. 
How about you?

“He who covers an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.” Proverbs 17:9 (NIV)


Linking up with NOBHImperfect ProseWomen Living Well, Duane Scott and New Life Steward


  1. Shalom!

    Reading this post put in remberance of those days in my life when I felt everything needed to be addressed and resolved. I too have a struggle with the balance between boundary setting and applying grace in a situation. I find now though I’m not as confronted with the conflict as I used to be. Now whenever something happens I go to the Throne first and ask God what I did to contribute to the situation. I ask for help in fixing my errors. Typically when He’s done with me whatever the other person did looks so much different. Hoever, if after all that, I still feel a sting then I do talk to them about it as calmly as I can. I’ve usually gained some humbling perspective by then.

    This was an awesome read sister! Thanks for sharing! Be blessed!~

    Surrendered to Him~

  2. Ro elliott says:

    love love this…yes in the name of “talking it out”…we can so loose grace….grace requires a trust in God to work in the other person’s heart. thanks for this….blessings~

  3. I have always had a wonderful husband but in the beginning of our marriage I wanted him to grow at the same rate I was. . .I tried to talk to him over and over and over. . .then God said to me, “Let me try now by myself”. I kept my mouth shut and God worked as he always does, beautifully! 🙂
    I have a great quote on my blog today about Grace. . .
    Blessings to you~

  4. this is such a delicate and tricky balance! my husband and i are ever trying to figure out truth-in-love. often, he won’t speak up when he should, while i choose “truth” without grace. i appreciate your challenge.

  5. messymarriage says:

    It’s a reminder that I need every day–sometimes all day long–to rest in the fact that God’s got this. I’m a slow learner, though, Rose. 🙂 Thanks so much for words of encouragement and wisdom, my friend!

  6. messymarriage says:

    You’d think we would remember this when those occasions arise, Ro, but for all of my 25 years of marriage, I still need God to remind me. I’m a work in progress! Thanks so much for you kind words of support!

  7. messymarriage says:

    Yes, that’s another nuance to this “grace” living. We all want our spouses’ to be in step with our growth and discoveries. I’m so glad that you learned this lesson early and are reaping the blessings God has sown in your marriage because of it, Kristin! Thanks so much for coming by and I’ll visit your place next!

  8. messymarriage says:

    Often the “truth teller” marries the “truth bury-er.” But they are both attempts to control the situation. And I think God is gracious enough to let us wrestle with this balance, as we eventually learn to let Him be the One in control. Thanks for your honesty here, Suzannah. I’m glad I’m not the only one who struggles in this way, my friend! 🙂

  9. It is tricky knowing when to address something and when to just wait…

    One thing I go by is the thought, “Will this matter in five years?”

  10. In the first several years of my 31 year marriage, i was convinced that every ‘event’ needed to be carefully analyzed and processed ad-nauseam. (I’m a counselor. Need I say more?!) One day my very patient husband sat me down and said, “Mary, I got it after the first 25 words.” He then stood up and walked away. That’s when I realized that my additional 2,000 ‘life-changing’ words weren’t for his benefit, but mine. My form of ‘justice’ needed a good dousing of grace! Thanks so much for a great post! And thanks for dropping by Mary @ Woman to Woman today!

  11. Kimberly Green says:

    I think of that old song “Grace that is Greater than ALL our Sin”…and my own sin is pretty great. That is one of the beautiful (but often painful) side benefits to being married is helping us understand HOW DESPERATELY we NEED grace. I am so guilty of being a “truth-bury-er” and then that old resentment flares up after a while. Thanks for the filter, “This needs Grace, NOT CORRECTION” I may have to put that on a wall somewhere in my house!

  12. Beautiful post Beth! And thank you for tying it to Proverbs 17:9 – I’d never read that before, and it really hits home.

  13. messymarriage says:

    Yes, that’s a great way to put things into perspective, Jerralea. Thanks for coming by and sharing!

  14. messymarriage says:

    It is the plight of a counselor–to try and unravel every knot. 🙂 I’m just so glad we have a kind and gracious Savior who knows how to redeem every situation and heart. Thanks so much for coming by and encouraging me, Mary!

  15. messymarriage says:

    You bring up a great point, Kimberly, a main purpose of marriage is to remind us of our need for grace–both the giving and receiving. I think we forget that in our hurry to improve our hubbies! 😉 And yes, it’s a truth that God alone is revealing to me. I think I need it to be “tattooed” on my finger when I wag it in my hubby’s face! Thanks for your humble authenticity, sweet friend!

  16. messymarriage says:

    Yes, that verse was a God thing, Ann. It was the first one I came across to illustrate this truth. I felt like it was God saying, “See? This is what I’m talking about, Beth!” God is so good! And so are you, my sweet encourager!

  17. My dear sister, I think most of all of us qualify as slow learners on this and many more subjects. The important thing is not the speed at which we learn, but the fact that we are in fact learning.~

  18. Yes, I believe in this grace, too. Because we all need it from time to time. We all have those moments when we are not happy with our own behavior, when we try and fail. I so agree with your emphasis on forgiveness. It’s definitely a game-changer.

  19. messymarriage says:

    That’s a great way to put it, Lori … that forgiveness is a game changer! Thanks so much for coming by and encouraging me!

  20. JosephPote says:

    Beth, I love the honesty and balance you bring to this topic!
    Frank discussions and healthy boundaries are SO important…and SO many Christians seem to think they have no place in the life of a Christian, despite the many biblical examples.
    And yet, there is also the need to overlook…to simply disregard minor offenses in a loving relationship.
    For myself, one of the things I’ve learned to watch for is timing and my own tiredness.
    I don’t do well dealing with conflict late in the evening. Issues that might otherwise seem minor seem almost unforgivable when I’m tired. Trying to see the other person’s viewpoint becomes nearly impossible as my sleep-deprived brain defensively latches onto my own hurts.
    I am learning to deal with late evening conflict by simply choosing to postpone dealing with it. Instead, I go to bed with a prayer, asking God for clarity. More often than not, I wake in the morning wondering why I was so upset about the situation to begin with.

  21. Ashley Haupt says:

    Yes, I agree about the balance. God has the power to transform gently, his kindness leading us to repentance.

  22. messymarriage says:

    These are great insights about timing our discussions, if we decide to have them, Joe. And yes, after a good night’s sleep and a good time of prayer, many issues shrink in importance. Of course, there’s always the conversation that needs to happen and putting it off can make it easier to avoid. But that’s a post for another day! 🙂 I appreciate your kind words as well as you wisdom, Joe. It’s always a treat when you visit!

  23. messymarriage says:

    I think we sell God short sometimes when it comes to our spouses’ heart. At least, that’s what God is teaching me. Thanks so much, Ashley, for coming by and joining the conversation!

  24. I’m all about taking the log out of my own eye before I take the speck out of my husband’s eye. Grace. Yes, grace. Such a hard commodity to come by in this age of high personal self esteem. Good writing. 🙂

  25. soulstops says:

    you did a great job navigating through a difficult topic…I’m all for grace while leaning on God for wisdom on what is most loving in each situation…and trusting God for the outcome…such a process at times 🙂 Blessings, Beth 🙂

  26. Applying healing salve instead of major surgery…
    Oh, yes. That is a much better tactic. I know I respond with relief and an outpouring of love and gratitude when treated this way. The key for me is to remember that very point.

    Thanks as always for the light you shine on our behavior and how we can be better.