Before I got married, I asked a lot of people for advice - what they had learned through marriage, what worked, and what didn't. A lot of advice was the same, so in some ways it all ran together. But I do remember what one couple told me. They said, "You're going to screw up. At so many points in marriage, you're going to make a mistake. It's a lot less painful to just go ahead and tell your spouse you made a mistake rather than wait for them to find out."
I didn't exactly know what they meant at the time, but today I know exactly what they're talking about. Because I do mess up, a lot. I make mistakes. I lose my temper. I am moody. I can be hard to live with sometimes. And when I do something that I know will upset Nathan or negatively affect our relationship, I have indeed learned that it is so much easier to just admit it and apologize rather than trying to hide it.
Case in point: a couple weeks ago, I had to rush out to be at church. The night before we shot an amazing wedding in Richmond (you can see it here!), so it was a very long day for the both of us. While adrenaline kicks in on the wedding day, we are both completely wiped when we wake up the next morning. I squeezed in about 5 hours of sleep before I hit the ground running again. Nathan was still asleep when I grabbed my keys from the bottom of the steps and headed out.
Except they weren't my keys. No, my keys were safely tucked away in my purse. Meanwhile, I drove away with his keys as he slept in a little later. A little while later, he called me and asked where his keys were. I looked in my purse and my stomach dropped. I was in the middle of a big day at church and I couldn't drive back home - it would have taken an hour, and I had no time to spare.
Inside of me, I wanted to be defensive and immediately say, "Well I took them but I was so tired and you were still sleeping so you can't be mad at me!" Instead I just took a deep breath and said I was sorry, that I had messed up, and I felt terribly. What did I get? Instant grace. That sweet man I married forgave me in a moment. He knew. He knew I was exhausted, and that I never would have done that on purpose. He forgave me immediately that I didn't double check before I left the house. He had to spend the morning at home, but not even for a second was he mad at me.
I was not only relieved, but humbled to the core. You see, if it were me, I doubt I would have reacted the same way. I probably would have gotten angry and rolled my eyes and thought, Of course he forgot to check. I may have even insisted he come home and pick me up, regardless of what was going on. But not Nathan. He forgave me, gave me grace, and let me move on. When I got home, lunch was on the table and a blanket was laid on the couch so I could watch football and nap after a long weekend.
I don't deserve forgiveness, and I certainly don't always give it. That was a beautiful reminder of the grace that I'm given, and a reminder to extend the same for others no matter what.