Simple but not easy

Our first big fight came five months into marriage. We argued over Christmas presents. Gifts that were meant to express our love and appreciation ignited a verbal assault on one another’s heart.

The argument ended with three words: “I hate you.”

Married life wasn’t going to be as easy as we thought it would be.

Looking back now, eighteen years later, I can see that we unknowingly equated simple with easy. We loved each other and we wanted to change the world together…simple enough.

Love seems simple…but it’s complicated.
Sexual intimacy is simple…but it’s very complex.
Marriage sounds simple…but definitely not easy.

Forgiveness is one word whose definition is simple to explain; yet the concept it represents is so hard to live out. There are some great quotes on forgiveness. A lot of Bible verses talk about it.

But how on earth do you forgive, truly forgive, when what forgiveness requires seems like more than you can give?

My husband Justin and I often share the story of our marriage. Like most married couples, we began with high hopes, but gradually we settled for ordinary and failed to recognize the warning signs, until we almost lost all we hold dear.

Today as we travel the country telling our story, Justin’s affair in 2005 gets a lot of attention. But long before he had an affair, I had a forgiveness issue.

Forgiveness sounds simple…but it’s messy.

What I’ve learned about forgiveness is that it isn’t just the big things that cause bitterness. It is the little wounds and daily disappointments that can cause resentment to build in our hearts and complicate our relationships.

When others hurt us, it’s natural to pick up the stones of bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness. We hold onto them tightly, keeping them close for ammunition the next time we’re wounded. But we fail to recognize that unforgiveness is a weapon that wounds its user.

I used to cling to bitterness. Over time, I allowed resentment to bruise my heart and impair my view of not only my husband, but all of my relationships. Where resentment lives, intimacy dies.

Forgiveness is the healing balm. But forgiveness is not easy.

It’s understandable to live with unforgiveness. We have been wounded. The people who wounded us were wrong. They owe us. It feels fair, even generous, to offer only partial or conditional forgiveness. We will forgive when they make up for what they’ve done.

But this expectation for compensation will always leave a void in your heart—there will be times when they can’t make it up to you. Nothing they say will take away the pain. Nothing they do will erase the memory. Nothing they give will ever restore the hope that was lost.

Conditional forgiveness is not really forgiveness. And it can do just as much damage to your heart and relationships as unforgiveness.

I have found that unforgiveness, in all its forms, causes us to withhold our whole hearts—and not only from the people we haven’t forgiven, but also from God and from those we love. And we cannot be healed and whole, free and fully alive, when we’re holding onto the heavy stones of unforgiveness.

Your past hurts may be holding you back. Perhaps you were abused or overlooked, taken advantage of or lied to. And you may be afraid that if you forgive, you will be admitting defeat. If you forgive, they win.

But forgiveness doesn’t excuse their behavior. In fact, forgiveness prevents their behavior from destroying your heart. Forgiveness prevents your past from forfeiting your future. Forgiveness prepares you to move from ordinary to extraordinary.

As I have journeyed through life and sought to live with intention and purpose, the best discovery I’ve made is the power of forgiveness. Like clutter in a closet, bitterness and resentment tend to build up over time. If we desire to live in the freedom and simplicity of heart, it’s important to periodically “de-clutter” our hearts of unforgiveness.

Forgiveness is a process that, if you choose it, will bring freedom to your heart and health to your most important relationships.

Who do you need to forgive?


beyondordinarycover_smallTrisha and Justin are giving away a copy of Beyond Ordinary: When a Good Marriage Just Isn’t Good Enough to ten Simple Mom readers! Simply leave any comment on this post, and you’ll be entered to win. If you’re reading this via email, please click over to the post and leave a comment on the blog.

This giveaway will end tomorrow night, Friday, September 20, and we’ll announce the winners soon after. I hope you win!

top photo source

Trisha is an author, speaker, blogger and co-founder of RefineUs Ministries. Sharing her own story of ministry, marriage, loss and redemption, she longs to ignite a movement to build healthy marriages and families. She is the co-author of her first book, Beyond Ordinary: When a Good Marriage Just Isn’t Good Enough, published by Tyndale House Publishers. Trisha and her husband Justin make their home in Nashville, with their three boys, Micah, Elijah and Isaiah.

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  1. What a beautiful lesson. I would love to read the story behind this,

  2. I would love to read more of their story, forgiveness is one of those things that is easier said than done. Great post.

  3. Such a valuable lesson to learn, but so difficult to actually follow through with. I would definitely love to read the book as I struggle with this constantly (especially the daily things).

  4. I would love to read this story of God’s grace and faithfulness thru marriage.

  5. Feel like I still have so much to learn. Would love to read your book. Thanks!

  6. You do have such a noble heart. To forgive or not to forgive, simple but not easy, absolutely! Would love to read your book !

  7. Love, love this message. I find that the little things, the ordinary every day disappointments, are the hardest to forgive. And it is true that they build up and clutter your life and your mind. We spend so much time organizing and cleaning other parts of our lives…. why shouldn’t we take the time to focus on this aspect too? So happy I found your site- it is so inspirational to me. Thank you!

  8. Beautiful thought provoking words. Thanks for sharing and thanks for the chance to win a book.

  9. ‘If we desire to live in the freedom and simplicity of heart, it’s important to periodically “de-clutter” our hearts of unforgiveness.’

    Beautifully said, this quote is going in my journal to remember over the manu years of marriage and friendships ahead.

    (Oh, and I’m from the UK so don’t believe I can be entered into the giveaway, that’s ok, I just wanted to comment on your beautiful words!)

  10. I’d like to read that one. So if i am allowed to take part in the giveaway, it would be great.

    Greetings from Germany.

  11. Would love to read more of this. Always need inspiration and more self -reflection.

  12. I’d definitely love to read this book!

  13. Thanks for this post. Would love to read more in the book.

  14. That thought about how harbouring stones of negative emotions only hurts you is so true. Forgiveness, grace and love feel so good to receive and are only made better when they are given. This was a good reminder. Thankyou.

  15. Sounds like a wonderful tool to enhance one’s marriage.

  16. Library Momma says:

    Would love to read this book!

  17. I would enjoy this book!!! 🙂

  18. A copy of this book would be fantastic.

  19. Becky Bertrand says:

    Definitely need reminding of this lesson time and again. I would love to read more of your story. Thanks for sharing!

  20. Beautiful post.

  21. I would live to read this book. Thanks for the chance to win one!

  22. Michaela Culpepper says:

    Wonderful insight!! We forget to watch out for the little things that build resentment when they are damaging our marriage little by little. Thank you!

  23. Thank you for writing this. I opened and read this email at a time when I really needed to hear these kind of thoughts. I was so close to shutting the door on a few relationships where I do feel resentful and your post has opened my eyes and given me a different perspective that I am only hurting myself more by carrying around this emotional baggage …..and perhaps maybe its me who needs to adjust my behaviour and not always wait for others to do so. Thank you x

    • Thank you so much for sharing that LJ. Praying for you as you allow that resentment go and find freedom.

      • My relationships with family & my husband have improved since letting go of resentment, hurt and pain. I feel it only destroys my well being, by holding on to the pain. Many would think that fogivining make a person weak, I feel it requires strenght & committment. True Forgiveness is difficult concept to grasp, and would like to keep being a forgiving person in all my past, present and future relationships. Thank you for sharing.

  24. I love the message in this post. So true!

  25. Powerful & so very needed! 🙂

  26. I’d love to read this book – thank you for sharing your heart with us!

  27. The post hits the nail on the head. If I don’t win the book, I’m definitely buying it.

  28. Thanks for the chance to win this – definitely speaks to my heart!

  29. These words are gold. Written gold. I need to learn this lesson over and over again it seems. I would love to win a copy of your book 🙂

  30. Thank you for sharing your story! I use it as a warning and call to me for when I get married someday.

  31. beth lehman says:

    forgiveness… such an important lesson to learn.

  32. What a needed read today! Thank you!

  33. Trisha-

    I so needed to read this today…my husband and I are nearing the brink of divorce everyday, and reading this I saw myself….I am bound in resentment of his affair, unable to let go of the hurt and resentment….I need to release my “in forgiveness”…

  34. Thanks for sharing–I’m going to think about forgiveness all day now.

  35. Thank you for this post!! It’s amazing how the right words can come at the right time! I’ve been going thru a difficult time during which my marriage is being tested. You are so right about it being the little daily things that can eat away at a relationship. Last night was the breaking point and my husband and I had a big fight and I am not one to forgive easily. But I know that I must forgive him if I want us to be happy again but I’m so hurt. Your blog was in my email when I woke up today and its just what I needed to hear. So thank you so much for sharing so much of yourself with those of us that need to know we aren’t alone in this and that it is worth the fight. I’ll be thinking hard all day on your words and on my need, for myself and my marriage, to forgive! You are an inspiration to me 🙂

  36. Marriage is so hard and you’re right, it is the daily disappointments that can really add up. I’d love to read your story!

  37. What an encouraging story. The book sounds good too!

  38. I would LOVE to win a copy of your book! 🙂 Forgiveness is a gift that sometimes is very hard to give. I am learning more and more about forgiveness and would love to hear more of your forgiveness story!

  39. So true, choosing to forgive is such hard work, but sooo freeing and healing. I have had seasons in my life when only by asking Gods help to forgive have I been able to. But boy does he come through when you ask.
    Years ago I was really hurt by my college room mate. I prayed and prayed that God would help me to forgive her. About 6 months later she appogised to me and I had genuinely firgotten what she had done. That had to be God.

  40. We are currently going through a difficult time and these are words I definitely need to remember. Thank you.

  41. I have watched your video and read about you online and would LOVE to read your book! Thanks so much for sharing your story – it is so powerful and gives hope to those in hard places.

  42. Thank you for this. *breath* I can relate so deeply with this story – forgiveness, especially when you’ve been hurt deeply by things like an affair – that’s tough stuff. My husband has hurt me through his addiction to porn for most of our marriage. Even as I sit here right now, I am lost in the unwillingness to let go. He’s been ‘clean’ for 2 years, and I still hold on to the hurt… which I know is wrong. It’s so hard. You’re right, very, very complicated. Even with Christ on my side, still – very challenging to move past the deep hurts.

  43. “When a Good Marriage Isn’t Good Enough”—It’s the subtitle that caught my eye immediately. It’s where we are. We are in a good marriage, but we’re finding that isn’t good enough. We are struggling to hold on to each other, even in the midst of hurting each other daily. This book sounds like it hold a lot of hope and we would love to read it. Thank you for sharing your story.

  44. Thank you for sharing your story!

  45. I love receiving email updates from you, and enjoy reading every day life stories that help me in my everyday life! It would mean so much to win a copy of this book, I feel as if I could get great use out of it! Whether I win or not, I’ll definitely be checking it out to purchase on my own.

  46. I would love the chance to read this book. Thank you for sharing your story!

  47. Getting married in 3 weeks and would love to read this! Thank you –

  48. Thank you for sharing. Your wisdom is proudly appreciated.

  49. I was reading your article and about half way through got a phone call which made it very applicable. During the conversation, I kept glancing back at the screen looking for the pointers on handling the situation with grace and forgiveness. Thanks for the encouragement that forgiveness and not only sets me free, but is a shot of health for the relationship.

  50. Forgiveness is something I need to work on, I would love to learn more!

  51. The whole time im reading this Im thinking Yes, this is me. For three years I have worked on my bitterness and unforgiveness towards a husband who continues to hurt me deeply. We have got to choose every moment as the one where we try again to forgive and live new.

  52. Thank you for sharing — I needed to read this today!

  53. I need to remember this. Forgiveness is almost as hard as marriage.

  54. I’d love to read this!

  55. I would love to read more of their story.

  56. Powerful word Forgiveness but even more powerful is the ability to truly complete the action.

  57. I’m going to have to print this article, keep it always with me, and read it over and over…!! Beautifully written. So many good points in there.
    Thing is, HOW do we forgive? How do we truly forgive from the heart, how do we make peace with all the hurt and move past it?

  58. I wanted to share a great resource that I have gained so much from: its called Radical Forgiveness…Colin Tipping has a blog and website with a lot of free material on how to work through something painful….I was deep in depression feeling so sad over someone who had hurt me deeply when I listened to the beginning of one of the cd’s and Colin said “Forgiveness is not letting bygones be bygones…it is understanding nothing truly bad ever happened.” RADICAL. I bought the cd’s, worked through the worksheets, actually got to share the cd’s WITH the person who had hurt me so…amazing really. anyway. It is a major thing to forgive…but the only way that feels organic and true is when you really can shift your whole perspective to understanding that what has hurt you most offers the most opportunity for growth…so then the person who hurt you is actually someone you can thank for giving you that opportunity. You don’t have to be their friend, or in contact…its private, for yourself, in your heart…so individual…anyway. Sounds like your journey and this book are just along these lines so I thought I would share….

  59. I would love to read your book.

  60. Would love to and need to read this! My marriage is in a broken state. Would be grateful for any nuggets of wisdom from this book.

  61. Forgivness is such a hard thing to give, true forgiveness. I only wish that this was something that I could have thought of prior to my divorce, perhaps my life would be different if we both could have forgave the other.

  62. I’d love to read this book

  63. Great post, would LOVE to read the book and the whole story. Thanks.

  64. Sounds like a book every married couple could use.

  65. Sounds like a great book! Thanks for sharing!

  66. Alexa Goddard says:

    I would love to read more of their story! Thanks for a great giveaway!

  67. Melissa Arey says:

    Forgiveness is such a hard concept to completely embrace. Reading your posts each day have been very inspirational. The book looks very good.

  68. Looking forward to reading your book!

  69. I loved several things stated here, especially about bitterness’s “build up” like a cluttered closet. I use bitterness vs. “unforgiveness” because the latter is no such word, which to discover that was also eye-opening. I’m preparing a marriage retreat lesson on apology for January. Lots of food for thought in today’s post. Thanks!


  70. I struggle with bitterness and resentment; intimacy is lacking in my relationships…

    I strongly desire to live in the simplicity of heart and mind…

    I am very eager t be prepared to move from ‘ordinary’ to eaxtraordinary’ !!

  71. Thank you for sharing! Forgiveness is one of the most difficult things in life, but so important to our relationships. I would love to read your book.

  72. Sounds like a good book and would love to have a copy. Thanks for the chance.

  73. Would like to read this book. Thank you for sharing.

  74. Would love to read this story of redemption. So true that the little daily disappointments in marriage can run the deepest in our hearts. This post was a good reminder for me this morning to let go.

  75. Great giveaway!

  76. Thanks so much for this post. Unforgiveness is my tendency, and I hadn’t realized how it affected my relationships until I read this post. God is using this in my life today!

  77. A meaningful message to start the day. I am all in on the need to forgive but struggling with the”how to!” Perhaps a follow up blog post? Many thanks!

  78. Tears so early in the morning ! Thank you for the honest truth and the encouragement to seek to forgive others, especially spouses.

  79. This really struck close to home. So many people tell me that I have this perfect relationship and marriage and how they want to emulate what we have. What I try to point out is that only the two of them are in the relationship and will know what’s going on. You are so brave to put it all out there. My husband has had two affairs and we are still battling through our situation one step in front of the other. We are FAR from perfect and the hardest thing that we chose to do is try to forgive each other and work on our marriage. It would be SO easy to just walk away from the pain and the hurt.

  80. Thanks for sharing your story. I would love to read this book. I am struggling with forgiveness, so this post struck close to home.

  81. I’m so glad I clicked on this this morning! I really needed to hear a lot of what was written in this post. Thank You!

  82. I love my wife and daughters and want to live the rest of our lives extraordinarily in Love serving The Lord and one another. Thanks for what you guys do! 🙂 God bless

  83. Godly truth! Thank you for sharing your heart and testimony to God’s redeeming Love when we walk out His will,plan & purpose for our lives. This post was perfectly timed and I am so grateful for your willingness to share such intimate details of your life. Thank you for being a messenger of HOPE and Truth. You have blessed and enriched my day and life! Will enjoy reading the book! Rejoicing in Hope, Romans 12:12

  84. I’d love to be entered for a chance to win the book! Sounds like an amazing story.

  85. This was a great article. Forgiveness is not easy, but it sets you free from all the bitterness and hurt that you’ve held on to, sometimes for far too long. I would love to read your book!

  86. Wonderful post with a great message. Would love to read your book!

  87. We could all use a little more forgiveness, I know I need to do some soul searching over this one. Marriages are under attack and need strengthening, thank you for your post. If being in Australia doesn’t rule me out, I’d love the chance to win a book! Thanks!

  88. I would appreciate winning your book because I have always had a hard time forgiving people in my life. I tend to hold on to past trangressions and never let go. I realize it is not healthy but it is very hard to change.

  89. I needed to read this today. Thank you.

  90. Have our first baby will be a wonderful addition to our already wonderful marriage. We cannot wait!

  91. I am learning what it means to forgive a spouse who has refused to express sorrow or regret for his betrayal of our marriage. Thank you for being God’s messenger today.

  92. My husband and I are always striving to go beyond the ordinary in our marriage. Your book sounds like somehing we would both enjoy!

  93. Great post, I really needed to hear this today. thank you!

  94. Lois Rosenberry says:

    I would love to read your book. My husband and I have been married 26 years but it is a daily blessing to continue keeping our love alive.

  95. Bridget Stevens says:

    sounds like an interesting read!!

  96. Ohmygracious I’m so so glad I read today’s post! I nearly deleted it when cleaning up my inbox this morning.
    Conditional forgiveness is something I have not thought about… I’ve taught others on the dangers of conditional love and conditional respect, but have not considered what you taught me this morning.. It’s such perfect timing bc I’m dealing with a very fresh blow of betrayal in my marriage as recent as Aug 28 is when God brought all things to light. I’m experiencing a brokeness I never dreamed possible. Thankfully we are in counseling with a very wise and godly woman.
    I love your writings and your heart! Thank you for being real and transparent for the good of all your readers! I will be sharing this very valuable post with others.
    God bless you abundantly….

  97. I loved this…it’s amazing to ask god to reveal to you who/what you need to forgive…things come up that you didnt even realize needed healing.

  98. I was convicted over the idea of partial forgiveness. Obviously an area I still need to work on with God.

  99. Looks like a great read, thanks!

  100. I know several people that need to read this book! Thank you Peace be with you all.