Gratitude for Grace The gift of grace to a guilty and shame-ridden soul is humbling. Once given, the receiver has the choice to cherish it and henceforth act in a way that expresses gratitude, or take advantage of it through a selfish entitlement that overlooks the sacrifice and kindness with which it was given. The grace that my husband has given me throughout recovery has been vital to the survival of our marriage. His ability to extend chance after chance for me to get better or do things right has been numerous, and has come at his own expense time and time again. Through each extension of grace, he has offered me trust that I haven't earned, and hope that has no basis in my past actions. He chances disappointment with each offering that is not taken, and then sadness when I waste these gifts in favor of my personal issues that seem so important to me at the time - more important than realizing what his gifts truly mean. Why do I let my anxiety, shame and pride win out in the face of these pure acts of love? Why can't I take the offerings as a chance that I did not deserve to heal our marriage? Why do I waste these precious gifts that he offers, even while fearing that one day his grace may run out? I believe it is because I feel so unworthy that I cannot not handle such pure acts. I feel deep, deep down that I do not deserve such kind treatment. And by some accounts, I don't. This is what is so incredible about my husband - he holds the line believing that I will continue progressing and that I will be able to tame my demons that are destroying our marriage. He believes in progress, not perfection. But when I give in to my shame and self-hatred, I am telling him that he is wrong about me - that I do not deserve grace from him. Instead of doing the hard work, I try to lower his expectations. Time and time again, my behavior shows it. It is a textbook self-fulfilling prophecy. And yet, amazingly, he still has a reservoir of grace he is willing to draw from. Grace has different meanings in our society today. It can be used as an adjective which describes someone's movement or poise as a thing of beauty. Used as a noun, which is defined as an unmerited gift given for regeneration and sanctification, it is still beautiful. Biblically, this gift is given to us by God. But humans possess this ability as well. We can give it freely to children or anyone who naively or innocently wrongs us. We can give it to people who have moderately offended us. What is truly miraculous though, is when we can extend grace selflessly to someone who has knowingly hurt us in a truly deep and painful way. This act speaks to our innate ability as humans to believe in love and hope, and is truly in the realm of the divine. My husband strives to live his life by these principles as much as humanly possible. He is thoughtful, caring, principled, centered, loyal, empathetic and loves deeply. He is wise, mature, and emotionally intelligent. By watching him move through his life and respond to his reality, I see a man who I can trust has my (and anyone he loves) best interests at heart. He knows and lives by the definition of love: putting another before yourself - always. He believes that love is a verb, not a noun, and something to never take for granted. Because of who he is at his core, I should trust that his reasons for giving me grace are pure and true. He truly sees something that is good in me, even when I can't see it. During our recovery, I have developed immense gratitude towards my husband for staying and fighting for us while enduring the absolute worst pain he has ever experienced. I have seen his mettle firsthand, and he is my hero. My gratitude, however, will not fix our marriage, and he cannot swoop in like Superman and save me and make everything alright. He does not have unconditional love or an endless supply of grace like God. He is not a martyr, and he must eventually do what he feels preserves and nourishes his soul. I believe that in the universe, all systems must be in balance or they cease to function as they are meant to. I see marriage as a system, and it too, cannot function and thrive when one person gives more than the other. I know that if I don't get out of my own way and start pulling my weight, our marriage cannot survive. The onus is on me to balance the scales. Reconciliation is not a right, nor is it guaranteed. It is a privilege that depends on my efforts and the good graces of my husband. I must not let these acts of grace go ignored. It's not his job to heal me. I am the rebuilder. I must choose him, our marriage, and the truth over my selfish ways, every time. I must return his grace anytime he is hurt, angry or flooding. I must show him that I can be liberated from my prison of self-preoccupation. Together, after the balance is returned, we can continue rebuilding something beautiful.