By Osharye Hagood
When it comes to marriage, the truth is we are humans being. (Yes, you read that correctly.) And when we get married, we become “marriage beings.”
While our marriages are intended to be divine expressions of God’s perfect love, and while we may at times feel the goosebumps of love and the perfection of our loving commitment—please hear me—all marriages are unions between human beings, and all humans sin. So, our mistakes and missteps should be seen as, well, expected. Blunders are as natural as breathing, and errors are as common as ears. Why? Because we are human.
There is no step-by-step handbook to life. We all are in a lifelong struggle of trial and error. So, it requires God-ness—that is, forgiveness—for two error-ridden lives to coexist in marriage. Maybe this is why we are blessed with the Imago Dei—the image of God—not for perfection’s sake, but to be forgivers like God. As God has the power and desire to forgive the world, we have the ability (and we should possess the willingness) to forgive one another.
My husband told a couple during marriage counseling, “You should marry the person you desire to spend the rest of your life forgiving.” I saw the beauty and truth in that statement—but then I realized something in our marriage obviously had brought out this perspective. I was shocked when I realized he had constantly been forgiving me!
Why? Because I am a human being. (I’m constantly busy being human!) From my vantage point, I’m simply living my perfect little life. Yet somehow, Rudy was experiencing it as (in biblical vocabulary) missing the mark. Now, don’t be confused, Rudy, my human being, needs constant forgiveness as well. That’s the truth about us; it’s the truth about all of us.
God says human beings are fearfully and wonderfully made. We are fragile creatures in every way, and we are bound together in fragile relationships as marriage beings. When something or someone is fragile and also possesses great value, we refer to it as precious. Marriage is so precious that the Bible says our unions are an illustration to the world of the union between Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:32).
Although we humans are precious and we protect a precious relationship (marriage), we still must continue “becoming”—that is, maturing to be more like Christ—both individually and collectively. We all require a process. This is a vital truth for our marriages. And while we, marriage beings, are on our journey to become, we need constant forgiveness (God-ness) along the way.
A female acquaintance remarked that there had been much discussion on social media recently about a famous music artist and his emotional unfaithfulness to his wife. Many people were arguing that his wife should not have had to deal with this. I played devil’s advocate by asking, “Why not?” My response surprised her (and probably surprises many of you).
The truth is, I do not condone being unfaithful to your spouse in any form. The music artist made a horrible decision that caused great pain. Rudy and I strongly advise that prevention is the best intervention for infidelity. Many have experienced pain akin to this in their unions. I hoped to get her to think about this truth: We are all humans “mistaking.” None of us is perfect, and no marriage is perfect. Thus, we all need God-ness (forgiveness) in our marriages. We are not humans perfected. We are humans being along the way.
When we “sign up” for marriage, we agree to help the other person “become.” It would be fantastic if we could walk through life without any bumps and bruises, except that is impossible. Jesus’ brother said, “Consider it pure joy . . . whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4). In another place, Paul wrote, “But those who marry will face many troubles in this life” (1 Corinthians 7:28). So, until perfection comes, we all must be forgiving our human beings.
Many enter into matrimony looking for unrealistic “happiness.” But James wrote, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him,” (James 1:12). So, until then, forgive.
Rudy and I recently began watching a television show that deals, in part, with sugar cane crops. We learned that a great deal of time, effort, watching, and waiting goes into producing the granular sweetness we take for granted. They had to plant the seed, protect it, feed it, watch the seed as it was being transformed, monitor it for pestilence, and scrub away (forgive), if necessary, the thing trying to harm it. And before all of that, they sometimes had to drain the soil when too much rain fell, and then they had to wait to harvest it.
Likewise, marriages undergo many trials before they will produce fruit, and fruit is what Rudy and I want in our marriage. That’s why we are in marriage ministry, to help couples develop fruit in their marriages, which comes about through the process.
No one person will get everything right throughout life, marriage, or parenting. The person who truly loves a “not-getting-everything-right” person will need to keep in mind that being human is a process of trial and error. The glue that holds us all together is God-ness (forgiveness). Image bearers express the power of God!