Learning to Forbear
By Jennifer Slattery
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13
I’m a hypocrite who excels at noticing other people’s faults. When someone brags, gets snippy, or behaves selfishly, my inner Pharisee awakens, squelching my love and patience. When roles reverse, however, my perspective changes as understanding cushions my judgment.
True, I shouldn’t have been so critical of my husband, but I was tired and caught off guard. I know I acted in pride but that was because I felt threatened and insecure. I mess up numerous times a day, enough to warrant continual self-condemnation, should I choose. Instead, most often, I make allowances for my faults and remind myself of grace.
Imagine if I showed that same forbearance to others; imagine the relationships—the hearts—I’d protect. Imagine the wisdom and insight I’d gain, by demonstrating the same grace Christ offers me.
When my daughter was a teenager, we often butted heads. The longer we were together, the more our irritations grew. One particularly difficult weekend left us both in tears and uncertain how to move forward. We longed for a close relationship marked by understanding and peace but weren’t sure how to get there.
Heartbroken and defeated, and certain at least half of our struggle lay with me, I went for a long drive to think and pray. On my way home, one word surfaced: grace. I realized I’d been withholding the very thing I longed for her to offer me. I’d been engaging with her on a surface level, focusing on behaviors rather than her wounded and fearful heart beneath.
“Help me understand her, God,” I prayed. “To see her as You do.”
Christ was faithful and opened my eyes to layers of hurt and insecurity that He alone could heal. Armed with the wisdom only God can provide, I returned home with much more understanding empowered and inspired to forbear.
God wants to help all of us to do the same, ultimately, to love others as He has loved us.
Jennifer Slattery is a writer, editor, speaker, and the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries. She writes for Crosswalk, is the author of eight contemporary novels, and helped write Wholly Loved’s Bible study based on the life of Sarai (Gen. 12-23) titled Becoming His Princess, releasing in the spring/summer of 2019. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall outings with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband. Visit her online at jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com.
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Originally published Tuesday, 25 December 2018.