Grace in the Moment

It had been one of those days. You know the one…the house is a wreck, the kids aren’t getting along, you haven’t showered or even finished the half bagel you started to eat at breakfast. And then you look at the time and realize it’s nearly 5:00pm and dinner hasn’t even crossed your mind. I was having one of those days and feeling the weight of all of my shortcomings as a parent, as a homemaker, and as a wife. When David walked in the door, looking for dinner and a pleasant greeting, all I had to offer were pancakes and a bucketful of tears. And in that moment, he extended me grace for all the ways I was “failing”. Dropping his briefcase and changing his clothes quickly, he called out to the girls to get outside – it was time for a game of kickball! On his way out the door, he smiled at me.  That look, the grace he gave me, is a summary of the thousands of tiny moments of redemption in our marriage – an active extension of grace in the moment.

“That look, the grace he gave me, is a summary of the thousands of tiny moments of redemption in our marriage – an active extension of grace in the moment.”

When I considered writing this, I really wondered what the Lord would want us to share from our marriage. Thankfully, as a married couple, we have not had any insurmountable conflicts between us.  David usually wears blinders to my faults and imperfections, and when we do clash, I am comforted by the fact that 28 years ago, David chose me.

When our home is not the haven of calm, order, and refreshment David thinks it should be, he offers me grace and adjusts his expectations.  And when he shows me less emotional sensitivity than I thought was needed, I adjust my expectations.

We were friends in high school, dated 7, have been married 28 years, and have produced 5 children and 1 grandchild (and another grandbaby on the way!).  Often it feels like we’ve always been together.

While we were dating, I would quit after every conflict, giving up on us.  He, instead, would run towards me, with an unfailing commitment to our relationship. During our early years of marriage, we slipped into worse habits – he avoided dealing with the aftermath of a conflict, while I sulked for days.  I often talked myself through a conflict by reminding myself that he chose me; he loves me.  But reconciliation was more often a burial of the issue than a meeting of the minds to sort through what happened.

After years of poorly resolving conflicts, we have finally come to a better place. We have learned to run individually to the Lord and then meet together to resolve the conflict. It seems that more than a big event in our marriage that needed redeeming, we have a marriage of small redemptions occurring often as we extend grace in the moment.  Neither of us is perfect, of course, but we know that about each other, so when conflict arises and we exchange harsh words or silence, the episode is bathed afterwards in grace that takes off the prickly edges of poorly chosen words or bad timing.  We each react at times with unrestrained emotions, however we try to dissect the issue with each other’s perspective in mind.  And then, as we let the Lord work on us individually, He has a way of prompting a softened heart in the offended one and giving the offender insight into the other’s pain.  David knows that I am always for him, so when he has needed to apologize, he never fears an “I told you so” or “It’s about time”.  And because I know that he chose me 28 years ago and loves me, I am able to forgive more easily.

“Neither of us is perfect, of course, but we know that about each other, so when conflict arises and we exchange harsh words or silence, the episode is bathed afterwards in grace that takes off the prickly edges of poorly chosen words or bad timing.”

Now in recent years of our marriage, events outside of our marriage have affected us individually: children going to college, marriages of children, deaths of parents and friends, to name a few.  And although we know that none of these events are unique to our marriage, they are potentially areas of conflict.  I think that these are the times that our past conflicts have trained us well.  We allow each other to show emotions and/or to withdraw for a time.  But even in those times, we often “check in” with each other in regard to our marriage.  A simple question, “How are we doing?,” or a statement, “I know it might not look like it, but I still feel close to you,”  are often just the words we need to hear from one another.

The Ezer Biblical Femininity study used this verse describing Jesus’ response to accusers, and it holds me in line and directs my prayers to Him who is sovereign over every dispute and blessing.

1 Peter 2:23
When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate;
when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself
to Him who judges justly.

Grace in the moment, which is freely given to us, to then give freely to others, is the redemption that we continually need in our marriage.

-Karen and David Swoap

As part of our One series, we’ve asked several people to share some of their experiences and stories as it relates to each sermon topic and how it has played out in their marriage or in their life. We appreciate the Swoaps taking time to share how they’ve experienced redemption in their marriage and the grace that they extend to one another on a continual basis. Has the One series prompted any questions you would like addressed? We’d love to answer some in a Q&A at the end of the series. Email questions to [email protected]