Hi, friends. I know I take my loved ones for granted. How about you?
When People Create Their Own Misery
How many others have witnessed this scenario?
You’re in the company of a married couple or a child-parent pair. In conversation, a wife says something snide and cruel about her husband, and you instantly feel a pang of pity for both of them. Or a parent says or asks something pretty innocuous, and the child snaps back in an unnecessarily harsh way. Again, you feel the pang of pity.
Watching these scenarios is tough (especially in one’s own family). I want to shake the one who’s being cruel and ask, “Why do you act this way? Why do you delight in tearing this person down?”
I observe the facial expression of the one torn down, and when they look dejected, I just want to wrap them in a hug. Other times, the response is neutral because they’ve grown accustomed to this treatment and/or they do the same thing right back; somehow, that scenario is even sadder.
When I see spouses and families treat each other like gum on the sole of a shoe, I contemplate how much better life could be for all the people who choose to live out these abusive and oppressive patterns…when they could simply choose to be loving or–heck–even just friendly instead!
When We Become the Person Who Creates Misery
Why are we often cruel to our loved ones? Familiarity breeds contempt. We are all too aware of our loved ones’ flaws, so our patience runs thin. We grow weary from dealing with the same issues day in and day out.
As a result of our long-term resentment, we become the person in the scenario who shoots down their loved one. We are so fed up that the reactions feel justified. Just like that, we turn into the thing we hate to see in others.
Where Is the Love?
Where is the love, the love, the love? (dated Black Eyed Peas reference)
The Love chapter in Corinthians is deceptive in that it seems simple but is almost impossible in reality.
- Love is patient.
- Love is kind.
- Love keeps no record of wrong doings.
How hard is it to be patient with a teenager who neglected to do a chore for the umpteenth time? How hard is it to be kind to the mother who drives you insane with her constant meddling? How many of us keep a mental tally of how many times our significant other does (insert annoying thing they do)?
I only have two tips for avoiding/escaping this situation. Firstly, remember how God forgives us in all our shortcomings, and allow that realization to humble us. Secondly, let’s make deliberate efforts and exercise self-awareness to prevent us from becoming a person who creates misery and tears down their loved ones.
Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil. (Ephesians 4:26-27, NRSV)
[Obligatory sidenote that fruit of the Spirit–such as love and patience–flows from submission to the Holy Spirit (+ loving God and following Jesus). But I believe our own will power (and ability to choose our reactions) plays a role in our graciousness towards others.]
Thanks for reading! Have you witnessed scenarios like this, and how do you respond to it? Do you, like me, have to make deliberate efforts to act more loving and patient sometimes? What is your take on the fruit of the Spirit being bestowed supernaturally vs. how we choose to treat people? Let me know in the comments.