The greatest gift you can give yourself this Christmas.

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There’s a lot swirling in my head this week.  The internet is going crazy.  I know you’ve seen it and maybe even clicked on some of the articles regarding it.  I’m not going into it here because the internet is the last place that it makes any sense to  prove some kind of point.    It’s the last place to try and make your voice heard because, though it may be heard alright, there’s as many that will be on your team as will be against you and most often it ends in frustration and misunderstanding.

These conversations need to be had though.  They do.  Just not online.  They should be happening in your living room, around your kitchen table, with those whom you call friends, neighbours, family.  These conversations rarely go well without relationship first.  So have them with those you are in relationship with.  Please.

This isn’t exactly what I want to talk about though.  I want to talk about the sickened feeling in the pit of my stomach from what this has turned into.  A viral rallying of words, back and forth, spewing hate, pointing out the sickness of the others ways, showing with points a, b, c and d how that person and what they had to say is WRONG!  And this is amongst the christians.

So for today I want to leave all that aside and talk simply about the very best gift you can give yourself for Christmas.

My marriage hasn’t always been what it is today.  While it’s by no means perfect, we are, after all, two sinners in a home raising a bunch of other little sinners, each with their own thoughts, opinions, expectations, and well, issues.   That makes this house one whirling mess of a place.  Because we’re messy.  Our hearts are messy.  Every single day we sin against each other and these are the people we love the most!

Many years ago, though, our marriage was sort of catastrophic.  It was mostly because we were each looking out for ourselves.  That might not sound all that bad but I assure you, it was detrimental.  We were self-absorbed, self-seeking, needing our priorities to be met before giving a thought to the others.  We felt entitled and then angry when the other wouldn’t bow to our very needs.  We got bitter when we looked at the other taking care of themselves first and that made us, in turn, only want to escalate ourselves and it was a battle royal of me, me, me!

But something changed.

We learned about this word called grace.

Grace is a game changer, I assure you.

Grace is unmerited favour.  It means, you don’t deserve this but you get to have it anyways.  You can’t earn this or buy it or work your way up the ladder to it no matter what you do.  Don’t bother trying so hard.  You won’t ever get there.  I simply give it to you.  A gift.

Isn’t it the hardest to accept a gift that you don’t deserve?  It’s easy when you feel you’re owed it.  But when you feel the gift goes above and beyond that which you’re worthy of?  It gets decidedly harder to just take it.

We learned of grace through Jesus in our lives and we learned about showing grace to each other in our marriage and what that means is forgiveness for each other.

See, God offers us grace through his son Jesus.  He says, you are a sinner, you sin every single day.  There’s no way you can even hope to live up to the perfection that is required of you but that’s okay.  That’s okay because I’ve made a way for you.  I’ve poured out all the wrath that you deserve for your sin onto my son Jesus.  I sacrificed the perfect lamb so that when I look at you now, I see him.  I see his righteousness.  That’s your gift.  That’s grace.

When you’re offered a gift like this it changes you.  It changes you because you can’t get the world’s greatest gift and not share it with others.  You can’t be forgiven the sin that you commit every day and not extend the same to those around you, can you?

We learned that forgiveness was what our marriage needed.  We needed to stop feeling like we were owed something day in and day out and we needed to forgive each other every single day.  Forgive each other for the words that come out wrong or the tone that sounded just a bit too harsh.  We needed to forgive each other for the look we miscommunicated or for the times we just downright fail.  We needed to stop expecting to be served and doted on and hailed as king or queen and we needed to instead serve each other, dote on each other, love each other so well that the other feels like they are undeserving of the gift but you continue on anyways.

This changed our marriage.  Every single thing about it.

Because suddenly we weren’t needing to be heard above the other.  We weren’t needing to be right all of the time.  We weren’t needing to perform our way to be loved or produce a certain something to make the relationship work or even be perfect for the other.  Because we understood how very much we weren’t perfect and how very much we needed to be forgiven.  In turn, we could forgive each other.

I contend that this can not only change a marriage but every relationship you have.

Forgiveness.

And it’s not about whether the person deserves it.  They don’t.  You don’t either.

I think we need more of it.  I know we need more of it.  And I think it’s the greatest gift you can give yourself.  Forgive.

It doesn’t matter how much you’ve been hurt or how wrong they are.  It doesn’t matter how many times it happened or how harsh it was.  It doesn’t matter that they let you down over and over and over, or that they slandered your very name or they spewed lies about you and your family.  It doesn’t matter that they harmed your child or took your wife or stole every last thing that you had.  It doesn’t matter that you felt betrayed, violated, sad.  It’s not about making sure they know they’re wrong or proving with bullet points that their opinions don’t make sense or even outlining with scripture or history that they shouldn’t have done what they did.

And maybe they shouldn’t have.  But is that what we’re here to live for?  To outline the flaws of others and broadcast them far and wide.  To dishonour the very ones whom we’ll one day be spending eternity in heaven with?

I contend we offer grace.  I plead with all of us to extend what has been offered us.  To look beyond the faults and flaws and know that we are no different.  We are all sinners saved only by grace.    The second we forget that is the second we send fighting words that seek to impale.  The minute we send those words is the minute we think we’re somehow better.  But we’re not.  None of us.

It is only grace that makes us what we are and only forgiveness that allows us to live in peace with each other.

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