My childhood Sunday school teacher demonstrated in class what happens when we hurt someone’s feelings. She held up a piece of red construction paper, cut out in the shape of a heart.
“When we say something mean, that hurts someone’s feelings, doesn’t it?”
“Yeeesss,” we sang out together.
She tore a corner of the heart, leaving a hole on the edge. The heart looked damaged.
“And when we mistreat someone, that hurts them, too,” she said, tearing another piece of the heart away.
With every example of pain and disappointment, a piece of red paper fell to her lap until there was nothing left in her hands.
“But, there are ways to repair a heart. We can apologize. We can be kind, and if someone hurts us, we can pray and ask God for healing.”
With each remedy, she taped the pieces back together. Once again we had a heart made of paper in front of us. But this time, the paper was damaged.
“Remember,” she cautioned, “we must be careful with each other’s hearts. Because after the heart has been hurt, it is never the same.”
What makes forgiving so hard is that the offense has left its mark. But we must seek God, not our spouse, for the healing we need. They can provide the apology, but it is God who will supply the tape to mend our broken pieces.
*Forgiveness is important to my husband and I because, without it, there is a wall that keeps us from connecting. Communicating with a tender tone of voice helps us hear one another. We talk, give each other time to process, and talk again. Allowing the space to do that is a part of forgiving, too. In the time we give each other, God can reach us individually in the ways that we hear Him most.