Today’s blog is provided by Pearls of Promise Creative Director, Dr. Lynnette Simm. Dr. Simm, with degrees in psychology and education, has been a college professor for nearly fifteen years. She is a contributor for Focus on Fabulous magazine and a freelance editor. Married over twenty years, Dr. Simm, her husband, Madison, and their two amazing daughters live in North Dallas, Texas, where she continues working on her writing. She is the author of And the Day Came, an inspirational memoir. Contact her by email: email@example.com or on Facebook.
Wedding season is upon us. Two of my favorite people are getting married this summer, my niece and my brother-in-law. Oh the memories of my own wedding come flooding back. I remember my bouquet of Cali lilies, ribbon bows, twinkly lights, balloon arch, three-tiered cake, my antique white dress, and my family and friends.
But what is a wedding really?
It’s the joining of two histories, two families, and two individuals, in the hopes that two can become one. During this season, I have been reading a book that a dear friend gave me, The Four Things that Matter Most: A Book about Living by Ira Byock, and the book presents four statements that matter most to make life worth living. They are: “I forgive you, please forgive me, thank you, and I love you.” These are the elements that make relationships strong, that make relationships worth living for, and that make relationships worth remembering.
When I met Madison, almost 26 years ago, neither one of us had the support of our families. It was acceptable that we were dating, but when we got engaged only five months after our first date, there was a lot of resistance. My future husband’s family felt our engagement was too quick. At the time I could understand their need to protect their son, grandson, and brother; however, I can say I was very hurt. I felt rejected, unworthy, and dismissed. My family’s marital history was riddled with divorce, so it seemed as if my marriage was doomed. I felt my family was disengaged from my life, which left me feeling lonely and sad. So with one side of our family worried, and the other side of the family somewhat ambivalent, Madison and I had a difficult time gaining support.
“I forgive you.”
That’s what Madison and I had to do in order to gain trust and build a relationship with our families. Because we had a three-year engagement, we had time to show our families that we really care about them, and that we wanted to grow our relationship. Forgiveness is not simply something that we want but it is actually a commandment by Christ, to forgive one another as he has forgiven us. It also is something that is essential in our lives and that can heal us. Unforgiveness can rob us of years, it can rob us of joy, and it can rob us of family. The opposite is true about forgiving. It gives us years of relationships that grow, flourish, thrive, and prosper in love. Forgiveness can give us joy and peace beyond all understanding, and forgiveness can bring us lightness and strength that we can’t find in any other phrase. “I forgive you.”
“Please forgive me.”
Words that we need to say more often. We need to take into account that we are not perfect, we make mistakes, and it is by humbling ourselves that we strengthen our relationships. By coming to that person and saying I’m sorry, it allows them the opportunity to get to know you and to get to know that you want to make a relationship stronger. I had to humble myself with my family. I had to take responsibility for our strained relationship. I had become very passive aggressive during my adolescence that made my family unwilling to be hurt by my behavior, so we became distant. When I reached out to them and asked for forgiveness and began to show a change in my behavior, our relationship began to grow.
Two words that show an immense amount of gratitude and an immense amount of respect. Thank you means we appreciate you. Thank you means we see the value in you. Thank you means we feel that you took the time to care about us. Those two words seem to be an under-used power tool. Thank you can brighten someone’s day even when they simply give you a cup of coffee. Thank you can show respect toward your parents, who love and supported you. Madison and I have parents and siblings who truly care about us. They worry and only want the best for us. Both our families have helped us through the years and have shown that they support our relationship. By saying thank you to them, we created a foundation for a relationship that is built on respect, understanding, and gratitude.
The last one, “I love you.”
Sometimes we say it too much, without understanding it’s impact. These words, “I love you,” should be cherished, used sincerely, honestly, and with a pure heart and motive. I appreciate the fact that the Greeks had six different words and meanings of love. Each word having a specific emotion connected to it. The two types of love that build families are agape or love for everyone: selfless, charity love, the gift of love and pragma or longstanding love: deep understanding, compromising, patience love that is built over long periods of time.
Building relationships takes time. You’re asking many people to get to know the person you love and come to like, if not, love them too. Building relationships takes grace. Grace because we all come with our own history. Each person had years of life and experience before we met and family dynamics that had been cultivated for decades. Sometimes people find it easier to just let go of family and not do the work, but our family is proof that when the work is done, blessings are abundant!
Weddings are a time of hope, family, and love. It’s a time to feel the blessing of a partner, who will help each other walk through life together. The ups and downs, the trials and tribulations, the gifts and excitement of a life shared. That’s the hope of marriage. It is truly possible when you include each other’s family, respect the differences, place healthy boundaries, and honor and cherish each other.
Categories: Devotion of the Week