The Greek word charis is related to many words in English which have essential relevance to marriage.
We start with Grace—Charis. Then Charisma—the Gift. Then Joy—Chara. And we end with Gratitude—Eucharis (Those from the Catholic tradition might recognize the word Eurchrist as the sacrament of grace—“communion” in protestant circles. The Bread and Wine of the Lord’s Supper is the telling of God’s grace story for us. Today, we would like you to contemplate this progression—Grace, Gift, Joy, Thankfulness.
Sit with your eyes closed for 3 minutes. Visualize your “rough spots”. All of them. Maybe like me, your first rough spot is the arrogance that comes from believing that you don’t have rough spots, or that your rough spots are so minor compared to those around you that they are not even worth mentioning. YUK! You and I can start right there… Indeed, consider your short temper, stinging sarcasm, subtle deceptions, an embittered spirit or style, jealousies which are experienced by others as pettiness. Embrace them all. . .
Make a list Yes. Write them down Notice that when we write we might be inclined to either soften or exaggerate our ugliness. Maybe it reads like: “sometimes others may have been hurt by my. . .” or
Read the list.
Watch for the thought, “Oh, but I would never have to be …or do,,, or show… if (Person X) had not…or didn’t…)
Now consider the statement: “It is easy to give grace when I recall how much I need it!” There is and humorous saying that parallels this exercise: “The smell of our own body odor is not nearly as offensive to us as it is to others”. That means that to be with you and me, others have to accept and accommodate significant characteristics which are, let’s say “less than fragrant”.
That is a gift…Dwell on it.
Third, turn to Chara—Joy! Don’t you love to watch children dancing?! They are not yet caught in adult trappings of sufficiency. They just dance. Grace leads to dancing…both with our feet and our souls. The thought of grace—having received a great gift, inspite of being imperfect, flawed and at times difficult to love. That is a thought worthy of meditation.
I am loved, accepted and sufficient—because of Grace—even in the areas where I am not. Stay here. Absorb this thought…and hope this idea on your spouse who might find it just as difficult to receive as you are right now.
Finally, Grace is to become thankful. Gratitude is refreshing. Its magnetic. Grateful people are leaders over distance. Controlling angry people can get others to do their bidding in the short term (mainly as a means of controlling their negativity. But people don’t naturally stay in relationship with the relationally ugly! Grateful people are beautiful—that is they pass beauty on to others. Its refreshing to be with them.
Show gratitude. . .But be careful, overtime it becomes contagious.
Imagine your spouse’s world — the challenges they are facing, the people and tasks, their struggles and worries, the hopes they have for the day. What is it like place yourself in their shoes? What do you feel? Pray for your spouse’s challenges, worries and hopes.