Posts tagged Kitchen Table Counseling
HE'S NOT YOUR PRINCE CHARMING: how to forgive the little stuff


For the next few weeks we will be reposting from He’s Not Your Prince Charming, reaching way back in the archives to remind and reteach and rethink what we’ve been learning together. I have asked my blog team to help choose their favorites, and I am hoping you will add fresh comments to shed new light on these posts.

In the meantime I will be writing ahead for the new series, studying, reading, thinking, and praying about what to say and how to say it. Any suggestions and thoughts about what you’re wondering about will be most welcome— after all, you are my girls! 

From my heart,


repost 09/13

Dear girls,

Last week I said: I think its time we all moved past the resentment that makes us crabby and cranky and cold to our men.” 

We talked about the need to forgive, to let go of the anger that controls our spirits and contorts our view of conflict.  And I’m not just talking about those horrendous offenses that leave women mortally wounded. Because it is often those less-than –earth-shattering irritations that we forget need to acknowledge and forgive in order to heal up properly. Kind of like paper cuts that render our fingers hot and throbbing but don’t actually send us to the emergency room.

The little stuff.

This week I promised I’d show you how to forgive, but first I need to tell you what forgiveness is not. Because if we lump forgiveness in with all the other ingredients of conflict resolution we end up with a messy goop of impossible expectations.

Here’s what I don’t mean by forgiveness:

1.  Reconciliation:

Some relationships cannot be immediately reconciled by simply pardoning the person who hurt you. Abuse, for example. Or unfaithfulness. There are wounds that go so deep that only major surgery can heal them.

2.  Condoning:

Forgiveness is not the same as making excuses. Last week I wrote:

Make believe doesn’t work here girls. You can’t pretend he didn’t mean it or it doesn’t hurt or you’re not mad… That’s just stuffing it and as we all know, that ugliness has a way of either seeping out of our pores or blowing up in our faces… And making excuses isn’t effective in the long run. He’s tired, pressured, stressed… but that can only go on for so long and then what?”

3.  Forgetting:

“The only way for the ‘forgive-and forget mentality’ to be practiced is through radical denial, deception, or pretense.”[1] It is not possible for us to forget, only to choose to “not remember” over and over again.

So, now that we’ve cleared away some of the debris attached to the concept of forgiveness, what do I do with all those bitter feelings that crop up when that husband or boyfriend or parent or friend wrongs me?

Here’s where to start:


1.  Be honest with God. No playing pretend games or shaming yourself for feeling the way you do. Tell Him all about it. Be specific. What exactly happened, what exactly do you need to choose to forgive? Say it out loud.

2.  Ask God for help. Only He can wrestle my immensely dominating will into sweet submission. Forgiveness goes against the grain of every base instinct we have.

3.  Trust God with the outcome. Anger is a means of control and of protection. To release this weapon requires that I entrust myself (my feelings, my heart, my future) into the hands of the only One who can keep me safe in the midst of all the hurt this life entails.

4.  Untwist the lies. You have an enemy who works with the offenses of others to smother us with untruth. Satan cannot stand our reflection of God’s beauty. He will use the hurts of others to try to convince us that we are ugly and awful and less-than. We need to separate those enemy-fed lies from what actually happened.

5.  Repent of my reaction. No one can make me angry. Anger is always, always, always a choice. What I do with that anger is my responsibility. We mess up relationships by getting on that roller coaster ride of you-hurt-me, so I-hurt-you-back, but you-started-it! The only way off is through recognizing my wrong response and repenting.

6.  Choose to forgive with my will. My long time mentor, Muriel Cook writes:

The world says, “If you don’t feel like doing something, don’t do it, because it’s not honest.” I’ve learned a secret: if I operate with my will, my emotions will eventually follow. But if I follow my feelings, my will goes along.[2]

7.  Act out forgiveness with my actions. Then Muriel illustrates her point with a story I’ve told my own daughters over and over again:

Let me show you what I mean. Every morning when the alarm goes off, my will and my emotions have an argument. My will says, “You’ve got to get up. You have to go to work today.” My emotions respond, “Oh, no, I can’t. I don’t feel good.” I never feel well in the morning. Now I have a decision to make. Am I going to stay in bed or get up? If I stay in bed, my will stays in bed too. So I get up with my will, go to the bathroom, and brush my teeth. My emotions still protest. It is only after I take a shower, drink a cup of tea, and start moving around that my emotions catch up with my will and I’m a whole person.

We do something similar when we forgive. We use our will, for Jesus’ sake, because He asks us to, and sooner or later our emotions follow.

That’s it girls. Forgiveness does not require years and years of professional counseling. It is not a process as much as it is a heroic act of our wills. The process part is the sluggish following of our feelings to catch up with what we choose to do with our wills.

If you’re finding yourself reacting to your man in unfriendly ways— snapping and snarling or withdrawing and colding him out, might the real cause be an unforgiving spirit?

Take this list with you and go on a long walk with the Father. Pour it out to Him. Let Him clean off the grunginess of unforgiveness. Let Him renew your love for your husband or your boyfriend or that guy who hurts your feelings. Let Him wash all those hurts away and leave you sparkling with the joy of your freedom.

From my heart,


PS: Here’s what we need: How do you act when you’re mad at something minor? Or have your feelings hurt. Can you tell us stories, even laugh at yourself? You might help us to be a little more honest with ourselves…



[1] Dan Allender, Tremper Longmann, Bold Love

[2] Muriel Cook, Shelly Cook Volkhardt, Kitchen Table Counseling


Dear girls,

 In this series we’ve entitled, He’s Not Your Prince Charming, we have been talking about two main themes:

  1. That only Jesus can and will satisfy your deep and ongoing need to be fully loved and satisfied.
  2. That He, in return, asks you to pour that love of His onto your husband relationally, sexually, emotionally, and spiritually.

All this talk, as of late, about loving our men sexually has brought up a whole lot of reasons why that is not always easy. The sheer vulnerability, which open, unfettered sexual expression presupposes, requires so much from a woman. Trust, acceptance, respect, affection, and an effort to give ourselves to a man who is not always what we wish he’d be.

But there is another element of this kind of husband-loving and what impedes us that keeps coming up in your emails and comments and messages to me.


Your need to forgive him for the hurts he has caused… and your need to forgive yourself for your past failures.

And so, for the next couple of weeks I plan to address these issues because I think its time we all moved past the resentment that makes us crabby and cranky and cold to our men.

And because this is a conversation and I’m sitting outside a coffee shop with a lovely, foamy cappuccino by my side while we “talk”, I need to prepare you for the messiness of these kinds of dialogues. We are women, after all, and hold a certain right to go off on rabbit trails to topics we deem relevant to whatever it is we’re trying to say. Just sayin’.

For today though, I’ll simply tell you a story…

Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess. (Isn’t that just the best way to start any story?)

This princess had everything she needed. Castles and riches and luxury and freedom to become more and more beautiful every day. Her future stretched out before her in one long litany of hope.

Her life would be good, great. She would live forever in this place of continual delight and hope.

This princess was an exceedingly generous person. Every day she doled out gifts to her servants, sprinkling fairy dust doses of good will and help to everyone she encountered. 

One day she discovered that her most trusted manager had been swindling her. Millions of dollars were missing and the evidence pointed unequivocally to this man. She was shocked. Angry. Hurt. Feelings of betrayal and unbelief swept over her. She had trusted him, believed in him, been generous with him.

The man was promptly brought to justice, cast from her presence and imprisoned in the darkest dungeon. Perhaps if she never had to see him again, she would come free of the terrible pain he had caused her by his disloyalty.

Then one day, she received an urgent message. “Please, please, forgive me for my terrible folly,” the man wrote with shaky hand. “I cannot live in this place a moment longer, have mercy on me— I promise I will repay you every penny!”

After much soul searching, the princess agreed to set him free from that dark place of shame, knowing there was no possible way he could ever repay her for the harm he’d done. Out of the generosity of her heart, she chose to forgive the man and release him from the debt he owed.

That very day, the prisoner was set free.  Breathing deeply of the fresh air, soaking in the sunshine, he danced for the joy of his unexpected, undeserved freedom. He’d been given a second chance and he was determined to succeed. 

Coming down the walkway toward him, he spotted a lowly messenger boy he’d once lent a little bit of money. “Ah ha!” he murmured, “Here’s my ticket to a new start.”

Taking the surprised boy by the neck, he shook him hard. “You owe me money! Give it now, this instant! Or I will have you thrown in the debtor’s prison where you will rot until you pay me back.”

As happens in a small kingdom like the one she ruled, word of this encounter soon got back to the princess. Her heart fell, grief welling once again to the surface.

How could he, forgiven of so much, fail to forgive so small a debt?

Justice for the man’s terrible injustice required that the princess revoke the man’s pardon immediately. She sent him back to the darkness where he would wallow alone in his own bitterness.

(You can read the real story, told by Jesus to his crabby and competing and conflict riddled disciples in Matthew 18)

Every time I read that story I realize again how much forgiving real-life love requires.

All those bumps and bruises that happen as we figure out how to do life together.

All the disappointments when one of us isn’t there for the other in the way we need.

All those loose words that come rushing out of hidden places, cutting and saying and hurting deep.

Each hurt must be looked at honestly and forgiven thoroughly or else we end up stuffing our insides full of hostility.

The only possible way to forgive every one of those hurts is to fully embrace the forgiveness offered by Jesus and then to choose with a heroic act of our will to forgive for His sake.

Make believe doesn’t work here girls. You can’t pretend he didn’t mean it or it doesn’t hurt or you’re not mad. That’s just stuffing it and as we all know, that ugliness has a way of either seeping out of our pours or blowing up in our faces.

And making excuses isn’t effective in the long run. He’s tired, pressured, stressed… but that can only go on for so long and then what?

A bitter, hardened attitude can set in when there’s always a reason for his bad mood or his failure to love well once again.

Neither does it work to choke him until he “gets it” and turns into a charming prince full of golden words and deeds all for you. Correcting and reminding and calling him on every slip will turn you into a nagging crab in no time.

Only forgiveness heals the hurt. Daily, weekly, hourly, moment-by-moment forgiving the man for being so unfailingly human.  That’s what God gives you and me. And that’s what He asks us in turn to give our men.

If you want to have a really great friendship with this man for years and decades until “death do us part”, you’re going to have to learn the art of forgiving and giving grace.

Next week I’ll be giving you some treasures from my long time mentor, Muriel Cook. This is a woman who shines with love for her husband, Norm. For now, I’ll just leave you with a snatch of her wisdom to think about this week:

“I’ve learned that a lack of forgiveness is the root of most problems. In almost every problem situation, after peeling off the layers of grief and distress, I find a wounded spirit or an unresolved resentment. Usually, it is the result of a hurt that hasn’t been dealt with or a pain that hasn’t been relinquished to God.” From Kitchen Table Counseling by Muriel Cook

From a heart still learning,


P.S. Do you have any questions about forgiveness that you’d like me to address? Or wisdom that works in this messy process of becoming a forgiving woman? Not the theory, so much, as the practical reality? We’re all needing whatever words you can give. Thank you!