A couple years ago I heard a wonderful inspirational speech. The theme was on forgiveness and the pains associated with holding grudges. It seems like most often our closest allies, confidants and friends are the ones we can ostracize and condemn when something goes awry. And even more often than that, family members or lovers quarrel. People divorce and children are estranged from parents.
My wife and I have a lot of great couple friends, but our very best friends, the couple we've known the longest and have gotten along with the best through the years, are currently going through a bitter divorce. Their children are torn. A young boy tells his mother that he wants his dad to come home -- that's what he's going to wish for for Christmas. But, the actions of his father, one of my dearest, lifelong friends, have broken the heart of his tender wife.
Love has been described as a flame. A candle gives light to the darkened house and a fireplace warms up a room in the cold, but when that flame goes out of bounds and is un-contained or uncontrolled the shelter and comfort of home and hearth can suddenly burn to the ground.
In love, faithfulness is mandatory.
I saw recently on the news that CBS is coming out with a controversial drama about wife-swapping. I'm repulsed. CBS has gone to an all-time low. Any glitz and glamor portrayed through a big screen conceals the heartache and heartbreak of what it is really like within the souls of those who do wrong.
I've witnessed adultery destroy many marriages and once-wholesome relationships. Cheating is the biggest lie. Men who commit adultery break the tender hearts of their wives and lose the confidence of their children.
Marriage is a solemn institution of devotion. No marriage is bereft of trial and disagreement, and at times struggle, but faithlessness erodes the foundation of trust and burdens the union of bliss.
Sometimes friendships and marriages are ended over minute ordeals. I believe there are most definitely reasons for divorce, yet the trends seen in America over the last few decades suggests that one in every two marriages end in divorce. Half of those who marry split up. I also know a few people who have been married and divorced more than twice. The odds aren't in their favor.
Selfishness is often at the root of the quarrel and problem. As for my friends, I think it's best for them to split up given the multitude of circumstances I've learned. It will take a very long time for that broken heart to mend.
And, what of the step dads? I believe Joseph, the step-father of Mary, the mother of Jesus, was the greatest example of what a step father should be like. We don't know much about him, but surely, he who was visited of angels and heeded warnings from the Lord, took the baby Jesus as his own and had a full, unconditional love, though the Christ-child was not his.
With so many divorces, there are many fatherless children. Surely not all step dads have perfect love for children who are not their own, and not all children who have step dads allow them to act that way -- to make it easy for them to love.
Fatherless children, or children who have fathers who show a bad example before them, burden a society.
Divorce cripples and crushes. But, sometimes separation and divorce is wholly justifiable and better for the short and long-term health and well-being of individuals and their children.
An abusive home is not conducive to anyone's health. Cheating and faithlessness severs trust which can be impossible to regain. Addition to drugs or alcohol, gambling or pornography burdens already imperfect relationships that require hard work and strenuous effort. Illegal activities and poor choices are unacceptable.
While these things can be curbed, sometimes only with serious professional help and penitent prayerful change, there may come a justifiable end -- a point at which continued patience and forgiveness must meet the legal proceedings of divorce court.
In time, forgiving those who've seriously offended and wounded the soul is possible and important in order to go on living a healthy, quality life. The burden of grudges is a festering wound that never heals.
We cannot control the actions of any other person, no matter how much we love them or how patient we are with them. We shouldn't justify our poor behavior based on the fact that we are 'martyrs' or victims, and therefore justified to be spiteful or simply give up while still in a relationship. Nor should we be self-righteous and feel justified to be angry or abusive in any manner.
Now on to my initial point: occasionally divorce and fights occur from differences in the way the toothpaste container is used. That sort of inconsequential thing happened between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. They were dear friends at one point, and then through a slight difference and disagreement, they became bitter enemies. As I recall, one even challenged the other to a duel. Best of friends became worst of enemies. Death and murder were at the door.
Isn't that the same with hundreds of marriages? Having worked as a police officer in the past, I can answer a resounding YES with some personal experience and authority to back me up. The flames of love turn from providing light and warmth to scorching infernos that destroy and debilitate.
Like the speech I heard years ago about Adams and Jefferson, referenced from the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, John Adams by David McCullough, friends at first can be friends again at last. And all the hate and hardness in between is a wasteful, treachery that darkens and destroys. The one who is hurt the most in hate is the one who refuses to forgive. Forgiveness is a divine quality that imparts great healing and health, even and especially to those who are the victims of unjustified cruelty and so-called heart-wrenching "love affairs."