It was a lovely morning yesterday. Seth and I tried a new LaVazza variety (falling off the wagon a bit on this aspect of Zero For Six-ing, but more on that later) on the balcony. We likened the rustling of the Aspen leaves to the feel of clean cotton sheets, the breezes in the pines and the birdsong to music.
The conversation went and wound its way here and there, and somewhere in there I had a fantastic idea–a doable, practical example of how to remind our government that indeed, they work for us. I won’t go into the particulars of the idea, because I want to talk about the power of conversation.
We’re meant to have it, and it’s meant to produce ideas, solutions, revelations. It’s meant to connect hearts and minds and put us in the creativity zone. So, if our conversations aren’t producing this magical marvel, especially when we’re talking with our adult children, we can examine ourselves.
Do we listen carefully and thoughtfully? Do we interrupt? Do we have to be right? Are we taking a parental role when our family members are not asking for that? Just as we’re extra polite and considerate in our conversations with non-family folks, are we also with our beloveds? Do we remember that sometimes hearts simply want to be heard–not to hear our opinion?
When we don’t know the answer do we simply say, “I don’t know, but I will pray for wisdom, and I will pray for you to have wisdom, and all will be well”?
It’s helpful to remember that those who talk the most and loudest are often drowning out the words of those with the deepest and best thoughts. Just in case you’re like me, and maybe are a bit chatty, it could be time to put some art into our conversation.
After giving thanks and more thanks (when I open my eyes and am still snug under the covers) I read my devotionals: Oswald Chambers, Henri Nouwen, and Faith to Faith by Kenneth and Gloria Copeland. This morning’s Faith to Faith mentioned “the power of harmony” and when I hear about power, I listen up. So, please, listen up and let us ponder and consider:
Strife drops the shield of faith, stops prayer results and invites Satan and his cohorts into your midst. Discord is deadly. It paralyzes the power of God in your life.
Don’t allow the enemy to stop you at your own front door by allowing strife in your home. If you do, you’ll be no threat to him anywhere else.
Put the power of harmony to work in your family.
I say “Amen to that!”
OUT WITH THE JUDGMENT, IN WITH THE JOY!
“Take the word ‘should’ out of your vocabulary. Don’t say ‘should’ unless you’re looking in the mirror.” A wise woman once said these words to me, and I took them to heart. Or tried to. No easy feat, this.
I want to talk today about the dangers of “should” and those of “supposed to” as relating to marriage, or indeed, any relationship. I will try to avoid a rant, especially when I begin discussing my least favorite of all “supposed to’s”–“The man is SUPPOSED TO be the spiritual head of the house.” Oooh, I feel my blood pressure rising already, so let’s just back up and talk about “should” dangers.
We each and every one have full plates–plenty, plenty of things to work on in our own selves. But, alas, when a lass begins focusing on all those shortcomings of her mate (friend, sibling, parent, co-worker) her eyesight is adversely affected. She looks right over the running-over pile on her plate. To put it another way, worrying yourself about someone else’s faults will make you blind to your own. You will personify that person admonished in the Bible to get the giant plank out of their own eye instead of worrying about the speck in someone else’s (Matthew 7:3,4). Sounds like looking at someone else’s little faults actually gives our own room to grow.
And if this is not bad enough, when we zero in on another’s faults, their eyes become wide open to our faults! I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t need that.
Should-ing people is, however, a fine and sure way to decrease your popularity, in case you are that rare person who prefers being unpopular, who likes to be thought of as an ill wind or a foul odor. While I’m not overly concerned with popularity in general, I am quite concerned about being popular with my mate. It just makes sense to me.
OK, here we go with a cousin to should: supposed to. The statement, “The man is supposed to be the spiritual head of the household,” has caused misunderstanding, anger, and disappointment in more than one relationship. What in fact, does that mean, anyway? It depends on who you ask. These words, tossed about from preacher to congregation, from husband to wife and from wife to husband, mean something slightly, or radically, different to everyone. Often, however, they aren’t owned words–words taken in by the man and developed by God. Rather, they are thrown words–words accusing of shortcoming, of failure.
Wife and husband rarely see that statement in the same light, but neither do they communicate about their respective perceptions. So, as they become frustrated with each other, and as the children see their dad failing at this obviously all-important mandate, the water of family life circles the drain.
Like “should,” “supposed to” is a boomerang. When you tell someone else what they should do (unless of course, they ask for, respect, and desire your opinion, which they rightly trust will be delivered in love) you become blind to your own duties of love and responsibility, and you focus the eyes of your accused on your own shortcomings.
These behaviors put you in a place of chaos, a place where you step out of touch with God’s voice and plan for yourself, even as you interfere with what He may be trying to say to your victim. That’s right, I said VICTIM.
The bottom line is you are judging, and as promised, you will be judged, you will have a sad and sorry outcome. Just as a wise woman once said, “Take ‘should’ out of your vocabulary.” And as another wise (at least in this instance) woman adds, “Take ‘supposed to’ out at the same time.
It’s about us, and “us” includes our author, and a mighty fortress is our God!
I don’t know how it happened, but we, John and I, got crossways this morning. Over money. Sort of. Maybe.
Or maybe it was about deeper issues, like his need to “get excited about giving” (his words) and mine to “get excited about saving.” Seems pretty straightforward – we balance each other, help each other.
Or, as is the case when Satan gets his way, our differences become his strengths. Our filters came into play: mine that says any miser can save and money is to be shared and enjoyed; his that says any imbecile can spend and money goes in the bank where it belongs.
Ideally, we put both these filters where they belong–in the trash, and seek God’s word on every aspect of money. Better still, we simply seek God, and as always when we do, these things looming so large and untenable, become quite insignificant.
I am quiet inside, basking in revelation upon revelation: John wasn’t mad at me, he was frustrated and rightly so; his personality and background are not something I have to be frustrated about, as God has shown that even when Satan gives it his best shot, it only turns to our good; I am going to start a savings victory booklet beginning with the book I asked the library to get for me, rather than ordering it ($17.00 saved). After that comes the burritos for tonight that I’m making homemade salsa for, rather than running to the store for salsa and no doubt much more (easy $15.00 saved). I think again of how God heard and answered my (and no doubt John’s) prayers and rejoice that in Him, even mistakes are not really mistakes, just opportunities to grow and kick the enemy in the teeth. Always and in all things, He seeks and delivers our good.
It is SO much our good for me to realize that any discord between us, two people He decreed to be one flesh, grieves His heart. I don’t like pain, I REALLY don’t like hurting John, but when it comes to grieving our Lord, I’m simply not going there again.
I heard my worst self muttering (out of John’s hearing) “If you want to be a (you fill in the blank), fine. Two can play that game, and I’m better at it than you are.” That’s right. I am. What an accomplishment, right? I repented of my sorry attitude only to go right back there with more nonsense not worth sharing or remembering.
But the good news continues, taking precedent over the bad, as I choose and decree it to be so. Things to be quite glad about: I didn’t say ugly things to John. I recognized their source and repented over and over. I chose forgiveness. I prayed God would handle it (and of course, He did). Each time I was tempted to revisit John’s words, I spoke aloud: “Love does not EVEN consider a wrong suffered.”
“I will trust in You. I will trust in You. Amen.”
P.S. I will re-read my book, The Maker’s Marriage, and suggest you do the same if you recognized yourself in any part of this post. Thanks so much for letting me share with you.