There are 3 words that come to mind this Thanksgiving season. They are graciousness, grace and gratitude. Just thinking about the meaning behind those words warms our hearts. That’s especially true when we attach the word “give” to them. When we give extra measures of graciousness and grace to our spouse, and especially when we give gratitude to God—we honor Him. And we honor what the Lord asks of us.
Normally, this has been one of our favorite times of the year. For many, many years Thanksgiving has been our favorite celebrated holiday (and a way of life for us as followers of Christ). We have to admit though, that it is a bit tougher to think of this as a favorite time right now. This whole year has been quite the challenge! It hits home all the more that we are on a faith walk on this side of heaven.
These are times that stretch our faith and our trust that God will redeem these days. But He IS our Redeemer. So trust Him we must! And trust Him we will! We will trust Him even when we don’t understand the “whys” of what He is allowing.
In light of the challenges facing us, lets look for ways to apply graciousness, grace and gratitude to our lives—particularly our marriages. Sometimes that is a challenge in itself… a real challenge!
Giving Graciousness; Being Gracious
First, lets talk about graciousness. Graciousness is marked by kindness, courtesy, and politeness. When you’re being gracious you’re going the extra mile in being considerate and compassionate. That isn’t always easy in marriage! We see each other’s flaws all too well! And we bump into them all too often.
This morning Steve and I experienced this. We’ve been especially busy lately. Unfortunately when we get to a place where we’re too busy, we sometimes forget to be kind. And when we’re too busy to be kind, we’re too busy. We need to do something about that. Fortunately, this morning we headed our snarky attitudes off at the pass. It became apparent that we could end up being less than gracious with each other. So we headed for our sofa and prayed with each other and for each other. We soaked ourselves in prayer. And then we pledged to make extra effort to give each other grace. From there, we headed out to complete the work we needed to do.
This helped us so much! Here it is evening, and we didn’t snark at each other once. YAY! We could have! But we didn’t! Thank you Lord! He reminded us to give grace, despite our busyness.
We love what Rev. Rob Toornstra said: “Graciousness soaks into our marriage as we realize and experience the way that God’s graciousness has soaked into us!” The closer we walk with the Lord, the more we realize the amazing grace He extends to us. As a result, we can better extend His grace to our spouse. And that soaks graciousness into our marriage.
How can you be more gracious to your spouse? Here’s one point to consider. The next time you speak to your spouse remember:
“Gracious words are like a honeycomb. They are sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” (Proverbs 16:24)
Also, the following title is linked a two and a half minute Q&A video put together by Drs Les and Leslie Parrott. In this clip they answer the question:
Graciousness, Grace, and Gratitude
Hand in hand, with being gracious, there is also the importance of giving the gift of grace. Here’s a definition of grace: It’s giving unmerited favor; it’s being “pleasantly polite” or having “a willingness to be fair and honest.” When you give your spouse grace you are giving them a gift. You are being intentional in going the extra mile in giving compassion, even though they don’t earn it. It’s the type of gift that God gives to you continually.
“Grace comes from the Greek word charis that means ‘gift.’ It’s not earned. It’s not deserved. That’s what makes grace so valuable in marriage. In fact, it just may be the most valuable gift you ever give your spouse. And of course, when we grow in grace, we become more like Christ. Think about how you could be extending more grace to your spouse today, and then do it.” (Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott)
Giving grace to our spouse certainly isn’t easy at times. But it is something we’re repeatedly told to give in the Bible. Just look it up. Additionally:
“Grace isn’t blind. Nor is it without nerve endings. A call to a grace-filled marriage doesn’t mean we ignore, trivialize, or excuse our spouse’s unacceptable behavior. Grace doesn’t mean we lose our voice when it comes to dealing head-on with things that are clearly out of line. And grace doesn’t remove consequences. God’s grace is offered to us. But it is not realized if we’re unwilling to receive it properly. We have to repent. And our repentance must be more than an, ‘Oh, excuse me, Lord. I’m sorry.’ It requires us to own our actions and refuse to continue in our self-destructive way.” (Dr. Tim & Darcy Kimmel, from “Grace Filled Marriage”)
Above All, as it Pertains to Grace
Giving grace takes special consideration. It’s the consideration of the grace God gives us. And then it’s the consideration of paying it forward. So:
“Press into a deeper understanding of the grace that you’ve been shown by God in Christ. Apprehending God’s grace will empower you show grace to your spouse. Get it in your heart and mind the extent to which grace is about intimacy and relationship. Let that knowledge fuel the response you have to your spouse in the face of his or her failings or shortcomings. Allow grace to work its way into your marriage.” (Scott Means)
These are some of the ways Cindy and I (Steve) have been Grace Givers. (We’d love to hear some of yours.):
• Overlook minor irritations. (Confession: I’m the pain perpetrator of these in our marriage.)
• When one of you is obviously stressed or overworked the other asks how they can pray to help ease the tension.
• Remember to say, please and thank you. Even simple common courtesies demonstrate acts of grace.
• Be patient and kind. (1 Corinthians 13:4)
• When you are wrong, be ready to admit it. But make sure your apology is sincere.
• And when your spouse confesses/admits a wrong, don’t keep a record of their wrongs. (1 Corinthians 13:5)
• Be willing to forgive when asked. (Also be willing to forgive when you aren’t asked.)
• Be There. Sometimes your presence is all that’s needed to show your spouse they’re loved. Be happy when they’re happy; be sad when they’re sad.
Giving Graciousness Grace, and Lets Not Forget: Gratitude
Cultivate gratitude in your life and in your marriage. Some of you may wonder, “How can I cultivate gratitude when my life is upside down? How can I say thanks for the horrible things going on in my life/marriage right now?” We can well appreciate those sentiments. But there’s something about cultivating thankfulness and gratitude that changes your attitude. You never know what God will do in the future with the difficulties you are now facing. He knows how to redeem and bring good out of even the worst of circumstances.
We were just now listening to a radio program and a man called in to express gratitude for having had Covid. He said that he and his wife came down with Covid earlier this year. They went through a really rough patch. But soon afterward his wife came down with cancer. As she has been going through cancer treatments they both are thanking God that they don’t have to worry about her coming down with Covid while she is struggling with these treatments. She is immune at this present time.
WOW! This brings quite the perspective. God took something horrible, and brought good out of it.
An Attitude of Gratitude
But what do you do when you are having a difficult time smiling? How do you cultivate an attitude of gratitude? One of our friends, Debi Walter, gives this insight:
“Most are more aware after this year’s events, of how life can look completely different than you expected or hoped. Who would have ever anticipated a pandemic that altered normal life for the entire world? It has been challenging to say the least. So how do we celebrate Thanksgiving when it doesn’t seem very happy?
“I believe the answer lies in finding joy in the midst of the struggle. Joy is different than happy. Happy is dependent on the circumstances around us. Joy breaks through the sadness to a deeper appreciation to God for what matters.” (From Theromanticvineyard.com article, When Thanksgiving Isn’t Happy)
Here are a few suggestions that might help you to cause joy to break through:
“Make a list of some of the many things you can thank God for. You’ll be surprised that it goes on and on. Make a list of what you are thankful about concerning your spouse. Then express to both God and your spouse how much you appreciate these things, and be specific. Acquiring the habit of being thankful goes a long way in helping our love tanks to stay comfortably full. And it breaks down entitlement attitudes that often breed discontent.” (Dr. Randy Carlson)
“Find things about your spouse to be thankful for—that, which you can give appreciation. Even if your relationship has been going bad lately, one of you has to begin the path back to good and this is one way you can do that. At least once a day authentically thank your spouse for something and give recognition, particularly personal praise. Pay attention for opportunities to speak when you feel them.” (Frank Gunzburg)
Keep in mind:
“As we release worry and express gratitude, God’s peace descends on our minds and hearts. God calms our emotions and directs our thoughts. When we find ourselves struggling with an aspect of our marriage, let’s try to develop a more optimistic perspective. With a positive attitude, we become a part of the solution, rather than a part of the problem. Follow God’s Word as we are told in Philippians 4:6-8.” (Gary Chapman)
As you prayerfully ponder all of this, here’s something Scott Kedersha wrote—that we acknowledge and embrace:
“Some of you are in a season where life makes it tough to ‘rejoice always, pray without ceasing and give thanks in all circumstances.‘ I’ll be the first to admit it’s a lot easier to rejoice, pray and give thanks when life is going well. However, know that the apostle Paul can relate. And if he can give thanks and rejoice always, then we all can as well.
“This Thanksgiving, take some time to be still. And take some time to rejoice, pray, and give thanks.” (Scott Kedersha)
We hope you will. That is our prayer for you:
“To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of His calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by His power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 1:11-12)
“May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.” (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13)
Cindy and Steve Wright
To help you further, we give a lot of personal stories, humor, and more practical tips in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. (It’s available both electronically and in print form.) Plus, it can make a great gift for someone else. It gives you the opportunity to help them grow their marriage. And who doesn’t need that? Just click on the linked title or the picture below:
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