I remember the illustration of what happens when spouses argue, fight, distrust each other and then outright break each other’s trust and damage the relationship. Take two papers of construction paper, of two different colors, and glue together. Then try to rip them apart without damaging the papers. You can’t. The paper will tear and parts of one sheet will stick to the other, leaving you with two ragged, torn papers with indelible marks of what once was whole.
Reconciliation is like gluing the papers back so that you cannot even tell they were ripped apart. Problem is even gluing them back together after they’ve been ripped will still leave marks. You look closely and the tears will still be there, the evidence of damage. With every human efforts, the end result might be a lovely modern art piece, but perfect? Not so much.
In marriage, the papers get torn, little by little. When you let them. We either let the little tears happen and go unrepaired, or eventually the papers will start unravelling all together.
Reconciliation happens in either tiny, profound ways, or it waits until the damage is so deep and immense that the work is painstaking and hard-bought. I pray for my heart to always be the first to do the work in small ways, daily, to keep our souls glued together. No marriage collapses overnight. No marriage is crushed beyond repair in one fell swoop. It happens in the smallest of ways, like taking your fingernail and picking at the paper, or a little dog gnawing at a big bone. We can let these little things take up space in our minds, criticizing, holding grudges and keeping accounts.
Or we forgive. Forgiving is not easy. It means, nearly 100% of the time, letting go of your own pride and narcissistic tendencies, to say this is not just about me any more. This – everything – is about US. WE have a marriage. We both win or we both lose. No exceptions, no excuses.
Reconciliation is forgiveness full circle. It starts us over. It wipes the slate. It says we have both failed each other. We have both sinned. We have both fallen short and it doesn’t matter by how much or how often. We follow the forgiveness with an epic do over, like a memory eraser thingy from Men in Black. We stop the trial. We not only tell the jury to disregard the testimony, we let the jury go home for good. Our hearts may think this is giving in and weak. Our hearts may go along with our culture which tells us to stand our ground and get what we deserve. Our hearts may tell us that it’s too far gone, that reconciliation is too hard and forgiveness just isn’t worth the effort.
But hearts are deceitful idol factories. We create a moat around them and make them like high towers, not easily reached and broken. I pray my heart will always be soft toward my husband. I pray that my drawbridge to him will never be drawn up. I pray that he will never have to fight my dragons guarding my pride, my sense of entitlement, my resentment and bitterness, my long list of wrongs he has done against me. I pray our bridge of reconciliation will always be easy to cross and restored routinely and thoroughly. No patch jobs here. No makeshift repairs. I pray our papers will always be glued together as one, so that no thing and no one will tear us asunder.