I was a simple bride.

I wore a simple A-line dress.

I carried a simple bouquet of white daisies.

I walked down the aisle to a very simple acoustic piano piece of Canon in D.

But as I stood at the alter, vowing my life to another person, I saw a very complicated future. I was 19, he was 20. A baby was on the way. Money was tight. My soul was already filled with wounds.

As we stepped out of that little historic chapel, there was nothing simple in the life ahead to be found.

Over 11 complicated years have passed since that chilly day in March, and I feel as though there’s a new word I need to add to our once spoken wedding day vows: Forgive.

I think we would be foolish to believe that we won’t at least once in our marriages question, wonder or contemplate if we made a mistake. It's often after a hurtful experience, a devastating circumstance or painful trial where these thoughts can wander endlessly through our minds.

Forgiveness is such a complicated word. It sounds so easy. Just let it go. Release those feelings. Forgive as you want to be forgiven.

But what does one do, in the darkness of thoughts, when forgiveness won’t come? What if circumstances desperately try to convince us that forgiveness is hopeless, not ever to be completely found?

Today a little whisper of hope pushes me through, tells me that great accomplishments are about tiny steps of obedience. In order to make progress, I know I must forsake these thoughts that try to hold me back.

There is a great shifting in our souls as we move un-forgiveness towards forgiveness. The resistance will be great. We may feel far from God in the process. But as we keep pursuing Grace and Truth, we will get better and not become … bitter.

Maybe you have struggled through forgiveness too. Perhaps not in a marriage but in some type of relationship. These are two ideas that I’m working through today to help my soul grasp forgiveness…

1. Forgiveness isn't a one-stop train.

This is a commitment, and a … continual act. And yes, forgiveness means trying again and also risking again. Our flesh is weak. And in our weakness, it forces us to depend on God.

The voice of condemnation tells us to write the faults of others on stone, where it is so permanent. But the voice of forgiveness tells us to write the faults of others on the sand, where with one touch it can be so easily washed away.

2. Forgiveness is an alternative, not an ultimatum.

I strongly dislike it when someone tells me I “have” to do something. The truth is, as followers of Christ, we should always forgive … but we don’t have to.

If we choose not to forgive, the human heart can so easily become a bitterness factory. The greatest lie of bitterness is that it convinces us that someone else made us bitter. But the truth is, we alone are responsible for the content of our souls.

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as Christ forgave you.” -Ephesians 4:32

I struggle. I fail. I don't always choose to forgive.

But I so desperately want to become more like God each day. I know He is patient with me as I work through this process. I hope today, no matter where you are at in your journey of forgiveness, that you will lean in to God as He gives you that extra strength to keep going.

It's complicated, but with Him, all things are possible.