When Grace Feels Like Losing

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The Game

Everyone knows that person who’s the scorekeeper in relationships. Maybe it’s your best friend, maybe it’s our spouse, or maybe it’s you. I hate to admit it but I’m the scorekeeper, especially in my marriage.

I didn’t ever consciously start doing it or do it with some malicious intent. But years of speaking to myself with a harsh and critical tone eventually seeped into my relationships with others, and ultimately I brought it into my marriage, where it quickly proved to be detrimental.

The years of keeping score we’re magnified x10 the day we said ‘I do’ and I found that our marriage, and no marriage at that, could ever survive under those conditions.

For years, I held myself to a standard of perfection that I knew was impossible to meet, yet when I didn’t, I wouldn’t turn and accept the grace that was awaiting me. I pushed it away because I wanted to be better, I wanted to do better on my own merit, until the day, grace swept me away, drowning me in its depths and I was never the same.


A Crucial Pivot in Relationships

Accepting grace for yourself is one thing, but extending it to another is a different matter entirely.

The idea of letting people off the hook, just like that, whether it was in relationships but especially my marriage, was something I just couldn’t get past.

No matter how much I wanted to be able to, no matter how much I talked about doing it, I just couldn’t. I couldn’t bring myself to truly extend grace when my husband had done or said something hurtful.

Grace felt like losing, and forgiveness felt like betraying my feelings.

The hurt and anger, that were even appropriate at times, I felt would be diminished if I forgave him.

He called me on it one day, ever so kindly and gently, but man oh man I was hot. How dare he say I keep score in our marriage?! Maybe there was an ounce of truth in what he was saying (ok more like the entire thing was true) but still, how dare he!?

We’d get to these nasty places where even if he apologized for something he did wrong, I couldn’t let it go. I would beat him into the ground emotionally over the matter, lording it over his head, because I couldn’t bring myself to utter the words ‘I forgive you’ and then let it go.

When It Feels Like Losing

Grace meant giving him another chance instead of putting this one in the score bank, and that was not only unthinkable, but something I had never done.

Shauna Neiquist sums it up perfectly when she writes in her book Bittersweet

‘Grace is when you finally quit keeping score and realize that God never was, that his game is a different one entirely.’

The sheer idea of not keeping score left me feeling vulnerable and defenseless.

The running tab I kept of all the things he had done wrong served as a giant bunker of sorts, one stockpiled with ammunition, readily available for whenever I needed it.

Keeping score made me feel justified when I had been hurt, knowing that I had something on him.


The Beautiful & Terrifying Surrender

It’s risky business and it leaves you in a vulnerable place, willingly relinquishing your ammo and forgiving someone who has the power to hurt you deeply, again.

Grace is one of the scariest by which I’ve come to love my husband more truly and deeply. Forgiveness, likewise, is one of the most terrifying ways by which we allow others the chance to love us again. But they’re the only way.

It hasn’t gotten easier, not by my experience, but even when grace feels like losing, and forgiveness feels like betrayal of my feelings, I’m reminded that there was One, Jesus Christ, who poured it all out for me.

By grace, and through forgiveness, we are given the incredible opportunity to know, through our Savior and in our marriages, a rich and limitless love, one that will not let us go.