How do you spell forgiveness?
Have you ever felt your marriage needed some super glue to cement the bond? At a time when I really needed some good answers, a mentor arrived who was to change my life. Every month for a year, an elderly doctor flew into our town to spend long and memorable weekends with my friends and me. We owed a deep debt of gratitude to this man who had become like a father to us.
Opening up a window into his world, we would catch glimpses of what a real marriage and raising children and grandchildren looked like . Most of us had come from homes of varying degrees of dysfunction, making Henry's fathering all the more life-changing.
"Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction." (John Crosby)
We sure did pick Henry's brain! This internship was to forever alter the course of my life, but of all the lessons Henry taught, my favorite is the LOVER way to walk in forgiveness. Henry did not simply teach us to love … he showed us the very strands of love and how he skillfully wove them into the fabric of a typical day.
His mornings began by shaking his right foot to kick his left foot out of bed, very early. His first task after the bathroom was to fix a cup of tea for his wife who remained sleeping, because he knew Tina loved to be awakened to this act of kindness.
Henry taught us that we are created to live, eat, and breathe love more than anything else. When we begin our day with a sacred act of love, it's an act of warfare and it charges the atmosphere with more Love. The world is a very negative place so it's important to start our days with something extremely positive. Then where our feet hit the ground we carry with us an atmosphere that changes our environment wherever we go.
Neverheless, we live in a broken, imperfect world and even in the best of families we get hurt. On days when his wife, Tina, shut down or withdrew, Henry taught us that it's the husband's responsibility, as head of the home, to become a detective and gather clues. He called this the 'LISTENING' act of love – or the "L" in LOVER …
Listen to Your Spouse from the Heart! Become a Detective …
Henry then went into detail, showing us how to really listen .. going beyond physical physical hearing. He taught us to listen to our spouses and children with our hearts. Have you ever been around someone who talks non-stop? With or without realizing it, that's how many of us refer to others. We're so busy waiting for the other person to pause so we an insert our two-bits of information. Our focus is on us when it needs to be directed like a laser beam on the other person.
I carried my listening skills into the business world, and often as I was speaking to clients I would hear an astonished gasp, "You were really listening to me, were not you?" There are so many distractions that compete for our attention that when you actually zero in and listen to someone's heart with nothing else on your agenda except to stick it out in a crowd!
If we truly listen with our heart we will pick up clues and many times the person speaking will put the pieces together themselves, simply by having a good sounding board! Everyone loves to be listened to and understood – it's a basic human need.
If you have offended your spouse, whatever you feel there was just cause or not, you can be an agent of Love. This often gets a bit tricky because we may really do not have done anything to hurt our loved one … but something we did triggered a pain from their past. It's like carrying an inner breeze that happened a long time ago, but not knowing it, we bump into the other person and it instigates a fresh wave of pain.
One way to forever end the pain, if it was our fault our not, is to have a servant heart and offer a genuine apology … with much grace and kindness. Offer it on a silver platter, well thought out and heart-felt.
Offer an Apology! Offer your apology like a butler, carefully prepared and presented …
The apology should be honest and target the specific area of the wound or bruise . We should never exaggerate or use sarcasm … such as, "I'm sorry you're so over sensitive and I'll never be enough for you." That's an "apology with an attitude" and actually rubs salt in the wound. When you love someone traditionally, you're willing to suffer in that person's place. It takes a strong person to love … it's not for wimps!
A better apology may be, "Tina, I'm so sorry my words (briefly summarize) made you feel like (summarize her words). You're right about this making you feel ___ (because feelings are not right or wrong, they are Just are) and I'm going to do my best to change … You will not be singing me say that anymore.
Validate How Your Spouse Feels!
Henry taught us to apologize to the depth of the person's suffering … If your apology has hit the mark, you should begin to see your spouse opening their heart. Depending on how big the braise or how deep the wound, you may expect to repeat this apology later on down the road … or this might be the final healing touch they needed. The older we get the more layers of wounding we carry, so as long as the wounded person is open, keep apologizing as needed until you get the very root of the pain.
Another tactic that really helps to rid our loved ones of pain is to understand the difference between men and women and how they process emotions. To break it down very simply, men are able to compartmentalize their lives. So it's easy for them to move on from one emotion to the next very quickly. It might not be all nice and tidy but it's put away and closed up.
Women, on the other hand, are like a tangled up ball of yarn … one emotion leads to another and then to another. So if you can add patience to your listening skills it really helps. Call it a storm. A woman, many times, will need to keep talking for what looks to be an incredibly long length of time … typical 'storms' last about 45-minutes. If she's allowed to simply share her heart, many times she'll feel a lot better afterwards and that's all that was needed. She's ready for a hug …
Embrace or Encourage Your Spouse!
This would be a great time for an embrace … but if your spouse is not ready to take that step, give them encouraging words instead. Assure them that you are going to be there … you'll be available when they are ready. Keep the focus, like a laser beam on their needs and not your own, to produce the most healing. Words can heal and a touch can heal, too!
The healing power of a hug can be scientifically measured these days! A good hug can release up to 3 points of Oxytocin at a time, depending on the person's ability to receive. Oxytocin is the greatest mood-enhancing hormone of all time and experts tells us we each need about 30 points of oxytocin per day, to maintain health. It's also the world's greatest anti-aging substance!
Oxytocin is sometimes called the Love Hormone . The good news is, whether you are on the receiving or the giving end, each person gets an equal dose of this mood-enhancing brain hormone! Did you get your daily dose of oxytocin today?
Repent, or Make A 180 Degree Change!
The best way to love is "in the opposite spirit" – that is, doing the opposite of what comes naturally. The easy way is to allow anger, resentment and bitterness, or other negative emotions to implode your relationship. But love overcomes all evil … it's the cure-all for every dysfunction.
We never worry about getting the short end of the stick, because in giving love away we receive it back multiplied many times over. The next time your spouse gets angry or withdrawals, become a better LOVER Go above and beyond the "norm" and do what does not come naturally. Watch as your new listening skills elevate you above the crowd and transform your whole life, beginning in your marriage and family and extending to your career, community, and place of worship!
A brief summary of how to get an A + as a spouse for spelling forgiveness:
"L" Listen With Your Heart
"O" Offer A Sincere Apology
"V" Validate How Your Spouse Feels
"E" Encourage or Embrace Your Spouse
"R" Repent, or Make A 180 Degree Change
This " How Do You Spell Forgiveness " article is an example of how to create a story about something important you've learned in life that you want to pass down to your children and grandchildren. We want the next generation to SHINE!
Do not wait until you feel your life is perfect to write your Life Story! Just get started and you'll be amazed at the depth of the wealth in your treasure chest of life experiences!