Everyone knows that person who’s the scorekeeper in relationships. Maybe it’s your best friend, maybe it’s our spouse, or maybe it’s you. I hate to admit it, but I’m the scorekeeper, especially in my marriage.

I didn’t consciously start keeping score. I don’t do it with malicious intent. But years of speaking to myself with a harsh and critical tone eventually seeped into my relationships with others and into my marriage.

The years of keeping score we’re magnified the day we said ‘I do’ and I found that our marriage could never survive under those conditions.

For years, I held myself to an impossible standard of perfection. When I failed myself, I wouldn’t accept the grace that was awaiting me. I pushed it away because I wanted to be better. I wanted to do better on my own merit. Until the day, grace swept me away, drowning me in its depths and I was never the same.

Accepting grace for yourself is one thing but extending it to another is a different matter entirely.

The idea of letting people off the hook was something I couldn’t get past.

No matter how much I wanted to and no matter how much I talked about it, I just couldn’t relinquish my grip. I couldn’t bring myself to truly extend grace when my husband had done or said something hurtful.

Grace felt like losing, and forgiveness felt like betraying my feelings. I felt that my hurt and anger would be diminished if I was forgiving.

He called me on it one day, ever so kindly and gently, but man oh man I was hot. How dare he say I keep score in our marriage?! Maybe there was an ounce of truth in what he was saying (okay, more like the entire thing was true) but still, how dare he!?

We’d get to these nasty places where even if he apologized for something he did wrong, I couldn’t let it go. I would beat him into the ground over the matter, lording it over his head, because I couldn’t bring myself to utter the words ‘I forgive you’ and let it go.

Grace meant giving him another chance instead of adding to the score, and that was not only unthinkable, but something I had never done.

Shauna Neiquist perfectly sums it up  when she writes in her book Bittersweet ‘Grace is when you finally quit keeping score and realize that God never was, that his game is a different one entirely.’

The sheer idea of not keeping score left me feeling vulnerable and defenseless.

The running tab I kept of all the things he had done wrong served as a giant bunker of sorts–stockpiled with ammunition, readily available for whenever I needed it.

Keeping score made me feel justified when I had been hurt, knowing that I had something on him.

It’s risky business, and it leaves you in a vulnerable place to relinquish your ammo and forgive someone who has the power to hurt you again.

Grace is one of the scariest ways by which I’ve come to love my husband more truly and deeply. Forgiveness, likewise, is one of the most terrifying ways by which we allow others the chance to love us again.

But they’re the only way.

It hasn’t gotten easier in my experience; but when grace feels like losing and forgiveness feels like betrayal of my feelings, I’m reminded that there was One who poured it all out for me. And by grace and through forgiveness, we receive the incredible opportunity to know a rich and limitless love–one that will not let us go.