Yesterday, I was lucky enough to hear our Archbishop Joseph give a sermon about forgiveness, while he was visiting our church for Forgiveness Sunday. And he said something that really stayed with me.
He said, "Most of our problems in life stem from our inability to start over."
He said that when we sin or make a mistake, we need to change not only our behavior but our attitude, and start over again. He said this in the context of us asking forgiveness, and granting forgiveness, but I think this is beautiful advice when applied to marriage, as well.
When we are selfish, or rude, or impatient with one another, we need to learn how to continually start over with a loving attitude. When we have been snappish, or interpreted something our spouse said as being snappish, we need to allow ourselves (and our spouses) the chance to start over and repair things. When we have worked long hours and come home exhausted for days at a time and had barely enough energy to ask how our partner's day was, much less to actually listen when they respond--we need to start over without blame or guilt and work hard to build connection and attention to one another again. Learning to "start over" might be one of the most important lessons we learn to keep our marriages strong and happy.
I know that there are times when relationships cannot be saved, and when no amount of "starting over" can fix things, and I'm not talking about those times here. I'm just talking about the typical squabbles and irritations and misunderstandings and struggles that are bound to come about when we live our lives with someone. But I think that some people might interpret these typical squabbles and irritations and misunderstandings and struggles as grounds for ending things. Maybe this is why the average marriage relationship only lasts 8 years? Maybe we need to learn how to start over with our partners, rather than moving on to someone new. As the Indigo Girls say, "These are ghosts and mirages, all these thoughts of fairer weather."
I think, too, that being able to "start over" afresh is important in our relationships with other friends and family members. When my daughter has driven me to the edge of my patience, we both need the chance to start over again with a loving attitude--without either of us holding a grudge! And offering forgiveness, and begging forgiveness of one another, is often a good place to start in the "starting over" process!
So, there it is, folks, a bit of wisdom from a sage old Archbishop. Who, by the way, also offered this wonderful quote yesterday: "If I fell asleep
during church, it was because my body was tired, but my mind...my mind was still
worshiping!" Hah! I love that!
What about you? Do you think learning to "start over"has been important to keeping your relationship strong and happy?