And when [Paul] had gone through those districts and had given them much exhortation, he came to Greece. Acts 20:2, NASB
Today's Scripture verse reminds us that from time to time Paul felt it necessary to give exhortation to his fellow believers. Teresa and I have found it necessary to play that same role with couples who come to our conferences and retreats. It's often our role to exhort couples to face issues they've been reluctant to face, in order to heal the pains of the past and enjoy the present.
One exhortation we often give couples is, "Heal hurts quickly." We know that occasional misunderstandings, irritations, and impatient words are inevitable in close relationships. It is critical to heal the hurts from those things through gentle and immediate apology and forgiveness. It is a good goal to not go to bed without resolving hurts that occurred that day.
A second exhortation we often share is, "Time doesn't heal all wounds, but God's comfort does." I (David) often hear couples say, "Why should we look at hurts from our childhood? We can't change the past." My response usually sounds like this: "You're right. We can't change the past, but we must look at it and heal it, because it definitely affects the present."
I tell them about my mother's controlling tendencies and how disrespected I often felt as a child. I recount a few instances when I became enraged when Teresa innocently questioned my plans. I also recount my sinful response to my wife: "I've had women tell me what to do all my life and I'm sick of it!"
I encourage couples to take a serious look at how their own growing up has affected their marriage and then to mourn those hurts with their spouse. I often say to couples, "If you don't think your childhood is affecting your marriage, just ask your partner."
How would you respond if your spouse confronted you about a past hurt that may be affecting your marriage?
God, help me to receive Your exhortations and respond with a teachable heart.
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