Not only is it easy to look at other people and see the changes they need to make (rather than ourselves), but it is also easy to start piling each of those indiscretions, blemishes, faults on top of each other. One by one they get thrown onto the ever-growing pile of “how this person is ruining my life.” Pretty soon there is a gigantic pile that is threatening to topple over upon us and, being certain that we will be crushed under the weight of this person’s horror, we explode. At this point in time, we are unable to see the good that we swear “was once there” and are certain something must have changed. Maybe they changed, maybe I changed, maybe we aren’t in love any more. All we are able to see is this massive pile of “how this person has wronged us” that we have built.
However, if we were ever able to look around this pile, we might, in fact, see that that person we loved (love) is still there. We might see that the person we love is being crushed under the weight of our pile. We might see that our focus on the negative has perhaps caused just as much damage to the relationship as their indiscretion.
I’m learning more and more that how I act in relationships has little to do with the other person and more to do with me. Last week I shared about the prayer “Change Me,” and this week I want to look at focusing on the positive.
We begin by taking our thoughts and making them captive to Jesus.
2 Corinthians 10:5
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
We submit our feelings, emotions, hurts, frustrations to him and we ask for HIS perspective, HIS truth for our lives. Often the arguments we build and create place us in direct opposition to God. “I will never forgive…” “He/she hurt me, so I will hurt him/her…” “I will not extend grace…” “I will only do for him/her what he/she has done for me and no further…” “I will not lay down my life for this person because…”
These thoughts are the thoughts that allow us to create mountains against other people. These thoughts become attitudes; and attitudes become actions; and if only at the very beginning we had submitted those thoughts to Jesus, is it possible that that mountain would have never been created in the first place?
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
To sum up this verse: 1. Place focus on God 2. Pray (there’s that prayer part again…) 3. Act- set our minds on that which is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy
Was Paul writing specifically about marriage here? No. And good thing because now this can be true for all people–single, married, widowed, divorced. Paul was talking about how to live. He was challenging the church to go forth in this attitude. We take these words and we ask – what does this mean for my life today?
Not only do we take captive our thoughts, but we set our minds on the good. We need not exaggerate others’ wrongs, but instead search for that which is true. We must, especially if we desire for our relationships to last, think about the excellent or praiseworthy in our spouse (or others that we are in relationship with.)
One way I have done this in my marriage (because believe you me, this is so much easier to write/read than to put into practice) is by making lists. I used to want to make lists of all the wrongs I suffered so one day, at the perfect moment, I could whip it out and be hailed as the victor of the fight… totally contrary to everything I just wrote. How do you think I know so much about making mountains against other people?
Now, I have felt God leading me to create positive lists instead. On an especially hard relationship day, I will take out my notebook before bed and I will write five things about Kris that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy. Let me tell you, there are always at least five things to write. The good is always there. And not because he is Kris
super supreme being over all other men but because he is a man created in God’s image, who is a good-willed human being. And praise the Lord because this then can be true for everybody. The good is always there, not because of what one does or does not do, but because we are good-willed people created in God’s image.
These lists have changed the way I operate. Instead of going to bed angry, I go to bed meditating on the good. Instead of focusing on the negative, I focus on what has gone right. And let me tell you it greatly reduces the size of the mountains I create.