Reading time: two minutes. I’m sent around the synod to teach about wellness, but everywhere I go, I’m learning. This is part 3 of my reflections around the Wellness Wheel and what I’m learning from you. Today: relational wellness. At congregational retreats we talk about the relationship between pastor/staff and the congregation. At our staff retreats, we focus on team ministry. On Tuesdays of our five day retreats, relational wellbeing is primarily about marriage. And when we huddle up to talk about married life, specifically, church worker marriages, one of the things I hear over and over, in a variety of ways, could be summarized like this: “I learned most of what I really understand about grace in my marriage.” That can work in a couple of different directions.First and foremost, we learn about God’s grace toward us when our marriage partner, the one who knows us best, forgives our many failures as a spouse. You can’t fool your wife or your husband. You can’t fake it and say, “Well, it wasn’t so bad.” You can’t deny the enormity of the way we disappoint one another in marriage. Promises not kept hit hard in marriage. Little things that might be ignored elsewhere accumulate in marriage. Taking a spouse for granted is incredibly hurtful when we consider the sacrifices our partners make for us every day. So when a husband or a wife says, “I forgive you,” that’s humbling. That’s undeserved. That’s pure kindness without merit or worthiness. That’s grace. We learn about the undeserved and merciful kindness of God in the scriptures, of course. The sacraments are powerful and meaningful bearers of the goodness of God. But it’s in the undeserved love and forgiveness of our most intimate relationship that we begin to understand just a glimpse of what God’s grace is. “I forgive you.” “You do? Oh. Yeah. You really do. Wow. That’s so amazing!” Of course it is. It’s grace. From the other direction, we learn about the enormity of God’s gracious forgiveness toward us when we hear our husband or our wife, the one who has the capacity to hurt us the most, say to us in all humility and vulnerability, “I was wrong. I’ve hurt you. Please forgive me.” Grace doesn’t come easy for us. We can always think of a thousand reasons to say, “No! I won’t forgive you!” What a profound lesson about the love of our Father who never hesitates to forgive. When I look at myself and see how hard it is to be gracious, I understand the nature of the undeserved kindness of God. And I learn a little bit more about living in grace at home. God fill your home and marriage and all of your relationships with His grace! Thanks for reading. Are you interested in helping bring a Grace Place Wellness Retreat to your region? We’d love to hear from you. Contact our President/CEO Randy Fauser today to begin exploring the possibilities. Let’s have a conversation about bringing our Church Worker Retreat to your area soon!