Once upon a time, in a land far away, two knights were sent forth by their king. Each knight pledged an oath of loyalty to the other, to stand by them and to even die for other, if necessary.
These two knights were relatively inexperienced when they left on their first mission, but as time went by, they grew more and more experienced in battle. They learned to work as a team, cheering each other on when a battle arose during which only one could fight. When the first knight fell, the second picked him up. When the second grew tired and weak, the first brought food and stood guard while he slept.
The enemy saw this and realized that these two knights, together, were many times stronger than either would be alone. Worse yet, their strength would only multiply as time went by. So he began to look for ways to drive them apart.
He sent his best warriors in a vicious attack, designed to drive them apart then conquer each individually. But the knights saw through the plan and stood back to back. The enemy failed.
Next he sent one of his most stealthy spies, disguised as a decorated knight of the good king. He did not attack them, but merely let them admire the gemstones in his sword, see ribbons and favors on his arm, and hear of his victories. And indeed, the second knight couldn’t help but be impressed by this glorious warrior. But when the spy produced a false missive, declaring that he was to leave the first knight and partner with him for a new mission, the second knight recognized the spy for what he was. He remembered his oath of loyalty to the first, and did not leave his side.
The enemy grew desperate, and that’s when he devised his most devious scheme. He called off all outright attacks, and he sent a warrior, disguised as a peasant, with a simple mission. When the two knights were walking through the village, he was to hit the first knight in such a way that his arm would hit the second.
“Ouch! Why did you hit me?” the second exclaimed.
“Forgive me, please. It was not done on purpose. Someone hit my arm, and I was not able to keep it from hitting you,” the first replied as he rubbed his elbow, whereupon the second forgot his own pain and began rubbing ointment on the first’s wound.
The enemy watched but did not abandon his plan. Again and again, he sent his spies on the same mission, and each time the strike was harder. Then came the day he eagerly awaited.
“Ouch!” the second exclaimed for the sixtieth time.
“Forgive me,” the first again begged. “I am trying to keep my arm out of the way when the crowds press against me.”
“You should have figured it out by now,” the second snapped. “I’ve got a scar, you’ve struck me so many times.”
“I don’t mean to hurt you,” the first replied apologetically.
“Well you are,” said the first. And they began to walk a little farther apart.
The enemy doubled his stealthy assault, attacking both, sometimes simultaneously. By now, either knight could have easily seen that the attacks were more than just the confusion of the crowds, yet they did not. They were too busy nursing their own injuries and guarding themselves against each other. Indeed, they had totally forgotten that there was another enemy to guard against.
When the knights went to the king with their problem, they grumbled because he said the same thing he had always said: they must forgive each other and remain strong in their vow of loyalty, helping each other.
It was not long before the enemy dared what he never could before. His warrior attacked the first knight, severing his arm completely, and sending his sword right into the second knight’s side.
Both fell to the ground bleeding and gasping in pain.
“Look what you’ve done now!” the second cried.
The first looked, and the pain in his arm was doubled by the knowledge that he had dealt such a terrible blow to one who had once been his dearest friend. He hung his head in shame as the second struggled to his feet. He felt his friend’s eyes upon him, and he dared to hope that he might do something for his arm, for he could not on his own. Yet when the second walked away, he did not blame him. He deserved no less, for he had not helped his friend in a long time.
The enemy smiled to see his success and launched a full-scale attack on his victims.
We are these knights. That knight you are paired up with is your spouse. And the devil knows that the surest way of dividing you is to trick one of you into hurting the other.
Sometimes our spouse knows he or she is hurting us, yet cannot find the strength to stop. Other times they are completely unaware. Still other times they cannot comprehend why something hurts us, when it does not hurt them. And so we begin to withhold forgiveness and distance ourselves.
God gave me this little story months ago. I pray that it will affect you the way it did me…that the next time you are in pain from something your spouse has done, you will ask God to open your eyes, that you may see the attack for what it really is.