In his book. Lee: The Last Years, Charles Bracelen Flood reports that after the Civil War, Robert E. Lee visited a Kentucky lady who took him to the remains of a grand old tree in front of her house. There she bitterly cried that its limbs and trunk had been destroyed by Federal artillery fire. “Look what the Yankees did to my tree,” the woman said despairingly, as she turned to Lee for a word condemning the North or at least sympathizing with her loss.
After a brief silence, Lee, scanning the tree and the decimated landscape around it said, “Cut it down, my dear Madam, Cut it down and forget about it.” Probably not what she was hoping to hear from the General on that Kentucky afternoon. But Lee, war-wearied and just ready to get back to Virginia, had no interest in perpetuating 4 years of costly anger. Lee recognized in the woman what we should all recognize amid our own angry spells, especially those that reach into our intimate relationships…
Our inability to process the bad stuff and extend forgiveness to the one who offend us, will eventually devour us.
Conflict is necessary
A healthy marriage is not a marriage that is free from conflict. Think about it, if there is no conflict in your marriage, it means there is no closeness, no “real” interaction. Healthy couples will have conflict from time to time; the key piece is how they process the conflict.
It’s humbling and at times exhausting to stand before those who’ve cut us deep to kindle a flame of reconnection. It means risks, sacrifice, trust, the potential that the one we are prepared to restore to relationship is not interested in restoration.
Think about those times you were the recipient of forgiveness in your marriage or close friendship? What was it like when someone announced, “You hurt me, but I forgive you.” We reach a point in life in which we either embrace the prospect of forgiveness or we sink in the squalor of our unfinished anger.
Choose forgiveness. Choose life.