The man was bent at the waist, a look of both deep emotional pain and deep gratitude on his face. The caption beneath the photo stated,
“In this African tribe, when someone does something harmful, they take the person to the center of the village where the whole tribe comes and surrounds them. For two days, they will say to the man all the good things that he has done. The tribe believes that each human being comes into the world as good. Each one of us only desiring safety, love, peace and happiness. But sometimes, in the pursuit of these things, people make mistakes. The community sees those mistakes as a cry for help. They unite then to lift him, to reconnect him with his true nature, to remind him who he really is, until he fully remembers the truth of which he had been temporarily disconnected: “I am good.”
I can’t say exactly what it was about this picture and caption that broke something in me, but I can honestly say that I know God used it to change my heart. I had focused for so long on the pain my husband had placed on me that I could only see him as the enemy. I felt no compassion for him, only rage at his choices. I saw him as both the best and worst thing that had ever happened to me. I had not once stopped to realize that my husband, too, was hurting. He had lost his sense of self; he had forgotten who he truly was.
“'I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.' For I have come to call not those who are righteous, but the sinners." Matthew 9:13
What a humbling verse. What breaks God’s heart? Where does His passion lie? With the good, the righteous? No! His heart aches for the sinners. When God tells us to be like Him, it’s a tall order; but this is one aspect that we should truly focus on - His love for people who are lost in their sins. My husband was not the enemy; and when I looked at that photo, I knew that I was in the wrong. God gave me the peace to begin building my husband up through text messages and reminders, and it changed the dynamic of our communication from that point on.
God’s heart is filled with compassion and love and mercy, and we are called to follow His example. He commands us to love, forgive, and pray for our enemies! This includes our spouses, even when they are in the thick of their sin. We must grasp this empathy for them in order to live as Christ commands. Imagine the confusion in their souls as they continue making choice after choice that pulls them farther away from who they once were. We must allow God to do a work in us that changes how we see our spouse, so we can love them as He intended.
How are you viewing your spouse? As the enemy, or as a flawed human being deserving of compassion?
How can you choose better actions and words towards your spouse to begin to change the dynamic of your relationship?