Asking for forgiveness wasn’t a norm in my life. The apologies- sure. The “I’m sorry’s” were many- to my own detriment at times. Like when someone accidently steps on my heal or hits me with their shopping cart, I am the one to say, “Oh I’m sorry!”
I think there are a couple types of cultures we find ourselves in: “Sorry Culture” that apologizes for anything and everything- heaven forbid we offend someone with the truth! We can be so concerned about making sure no one has hurt feelings that “truth” is lost in the process.
And then there is “Entitlement Culture” which breeds selfishness, disrespect, and ridiculous standards and expectations. (There could be a whole post on this, couldn’t there?)
Both cultures are toxic. Neither lead to healthy and nurturing relationships. Neither glorify God because both are either idolizing self or others. There isn’t room for authentic confession and forgiveness in these cultures.
My husband and I cultivated a “Confession Culture” in our home and in our relationships with others. I didn’t see the dire need for this until Jerry and I were courting and there would be times he would ask for my forgiveness on certain matters- big or small. He would come to me, state what he did and why it was wrong, and then he would plead for my forgiveness. I’ll be honest, it felt weird at first. It was deeper than I was used to going.
Typical “I’m sorry” conversations with people generally went: “I’m sorry that hurt you.” And the response would be “It’s okay” or “Don’t worry about it.” Occasionally an “I forgive you” would be thrown out there, but even then, it felt uncomfortable. It felt like I was stepping over a line. Let’s just brush it off and move on- right?
That’s not cultivating a confession culture though. The one thing that has helped Jerry and I more than anything through this (almost) first year of marriage is confessing our wrongs and genuinely approaching the other in humility.
If you were to look up the definition of “Confession” you would find it to be something similar to this: “a formal statement admitting that one is guilty of a crime.”
A crime indeed.
When I raise my voice at my husband, I’m being impatient and neglecting gentleness.
When I play the blame game and harshly accuse my husband for something he did “wrong,” I’m neglecting grace and love and instead am putting on self-righteousness.
When I am so fixated on my own problems that I don’t take time to truly listen to my husband, I am self-absorbed.
These are crimes in the most traditional sense there is. A crime against both my husband and the Lord. This is why confession plays such a key role in our home, and how it has truly cultivated the culture of our family. Confession humbles me and doesn’t allow me to sit in my pride. Confession convicts me. Confession sanctifies me.
There are countless times that Jerry and I will be fighting but I am much more in the wrong than he is. Even still, Jerry will pause, and then confess to me however he believed he wronged me (no matter how minor it was!!) and he will plead for my forgiveness. He will do this even if I am still wronging him and insisting on my own way. When Jerry does that, I am immediately convicted. It’s like that verse that says, “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him. If your enemy is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on his head.” (Romans 12:20) That’s actually an expression I use when Jerry asks me for forgiveness, and I know I need to do the same.
“Jerryyyy stop heaping burning coals on my head!” Yes. It’s a thing.
The point of all of this is that through a confession culture in our home, I have become utterly aware of how wretched I am, and how perfect God is. My husband and I are also aware of our desperate need for Him and His mercy in our lives. Pride dies where confession thrives.
Humility and a willingness to admit wrong and seek forgiveness has been a building block in our marriage. With Christ as cornerstone, and confession following closely behind, we aren’t able to pit wars against each other for very long without conviction setting in and the realization of our wretched sinfulness being painfully obvious.
There are different cultures that this world pushes for us to adopt. “Sorry Culture” and “Entitlement Culture” are easy and obvious. “Confession Culture” isn’t comfortable, but it is rewarding, and it places Christ above myself or anyone else. And that, my friends, is how we are called to live.
“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” -Proverbs 28:13
Ask for forgiveness when you wrong someone- big or small. When it becomes a daily practice, the motives and position of your heart will slowly begin to change.