This has been a recurring theme in my prayer times over the past...two years. Over and over God keeps bringing up my learning to love. Which is great. Because loving others more is easy, right? Of course I know how to love. I just need to do a little more service and listen a little better and give more hugs.
I signed up to do Meals on Wheels, because that's loving others. I did the dishes without complaining and picked up after my family. That's also love, right? I snuggled with my kids a little more than normal. I gave my Hubby an extra smile. I closed my laptop and gave my undivided attention when someone in my family wanted to talk to me. I got this whole love thing down pat. Wew. Mission accomplished.
In previous posts, I alluded to the fact that the Lord has been at work in me, changing me in major ways that have had a big impact on me and my family. I've already shared about my revelation in regards to my kids and how I see them and their penchant for chaos. I shared about how the changes have born good fruit and led to a new joy in me and my family.
Today I am going to talk about love. And how I totally didn't get it until now. Which is probably obvious from what I just shared.
So this one day about three months ago, Hubby and I had a heart-to-heart with David about something or other. I don't even remember the reason for the "talk." What I do remember is this--David saying that he feels like he is a failure and can never do anything right. Which is something he has said before and often. I always brushed it off with platitudes. Of course you're not a failure because of this... Then Hubby said that he often felt the same way.
And this is when the bells started ringing in my head. Ding ding ding! This is important Lisa!
An idea started forming in my head. A bad one. I tossed it around for a while. I didn't like it. I stewed on it for a while--okay, for like two months. I told you I didn't like it.
But I started making changes just in case the idea in my head was true. Because even if I didn't like it, it would be really bad to continue ignoring the idea if it was actually the truth.
Then after my surgery a few days after praying that Jesus would hold my hand, the idea cemented itself in my heart and I knew it was time to face facts.
My sin of focusing on the faults of others and remaining silent
about their good parts was destroying those I love most.
I was focused on correcting wrong behavior, wrong answers, wrong attitudes, etc. I focused on the faults and failures of my family and pointed them out. What I wasn't doing was also pointing out the good stuff. The successes, the improvements, the follow-through, the good attitudes, etc. I saw the good stuff; I just didn't say anything about it out loud.
So I made a decision. It was time to keep my mouth shut about all but the most important faults and to start pointing out any and all successes. For example: when a child hands me their rough draft in writing, I will point out all the good stuff I see (what excellent handwriting, you did really well forming paragraphs, I love the way you worded this, you spelled this really hard word correctly) and then I will help them with the errors. When I see my child offer to share their candy with their sibling, I will comment on how loving it is to share. When someone does a good job with their chores, I will point out how nicely the bathroom shines. I will say things like, "I know that song was really hard for you to learn on the piano, but I am so proud of you for persevering to get it perfect."
Unfortunately, this area of sin in my life was not exclusive to my kids. Oh no. My worst offendee has definitely been my dear Hubby. A few years ago, through much effort and prayer, I learned to stop treating him as if he were another one of my children, a habit that was quickly eroding the peace and love in my home.
This step was a big one and very good. But it wasn't enough. While I'd stopped disrespecting Hubby, I continued to keep my mouth shut about the good stuff. I saw him take out the trash, I was grateful when he made dinner when I was too tired, I noticed how loving it was when he played a game with the kids and demonstrated some extreme patience with them. But I rarely said anything to him about it.
So I started applying the same practices with Hubby that I had with the kids. Shut my mouth about the negative and praise the good stuff. Notice what he does. Point it out. Comment on it. Thank him. Encourage him. Love him with my words.
Of course it didn't come naturally or easily at first. But I have been working hard at it without having said anything about it to my Hubby. Until a few nights ago when I commented on how much I've seen David blossom in the last few months since I started working on this area. How he's more willing to try harder things, his frustrated rants over schoolwork have been way less frequent, that he seems so much more confident in himself in general. And then I casually mentioned that I'd been doing the same thing with Hubby. Hubby was silent for a minute. And then he said, "I noticed and have felt so incredibly loved by you lately. That you notice the good that I do. That you really notice me."
Insert ax to Lisa's heart. The heart that was shattered in that moment by the "what ifs" and the regrets. I don't think I've ever truly mourned the effects of sin in my life so strongly before that moment. I felt it deeply to my core that my sin had so adversely impacted my family. And then I was flooded with gratefulness that God didn't give up on me when I just wasn't getting it when He kept telling me to grow in love. That God pursued me month after month, bringing about situations that He used to make the point He was trying to teach me hit home.
I was so completely blind. I just looked at Hubby, puzzled, and said, "How could I have missed this? I am almost 35 years old. I have been a Christian my entire life. How did I not know this? How could I not have understood what it means to truly love people? To show them with my words that I love them?"
I do now. And it has made all the difference.
(Warning: This post is honest about what has been going on in my life. I share this because God is so good to not leave us in our mess, and as I know I am not the only person to experience this, I want to open the eyes of others who need to hear this. But, while I am seeing major victory in this area, I'm not perfect. So if you see me fall flat on my face about anything I've mentioned here, pray for me, but keep it to yourself. LOL!)