One hundred percent of the problems you are having, have had, or will have in any failed or faltering relationship are rooted in the exact same issue!
Yes, that problem you are having in your marriage relationship is the exact same problem you are having with your coworker, is the exact same problem you are having with your child. I guarantee it. Don’t believe me? Just read!
It was opening day in recreational baseball. Atop cheer related obligations, the day would start early, and end late. TJ and I even had the audacity to accept a social invite for the evening knowing that we’d be hustling with the kids all day. Anticipating the evening energy crash, I determined to get in a nap. And I did squeeze in power nap; which I’ve done on many occasions. Only this time, I woke up groggy. It took me all of seven minutes to snap at every person in the house! I knew that I was out of order, and by the time we loaded up the truck, I had sentenced myself to the third row. Everyone else gathered in the main cabin and attempted to change the environmental thermostat from foul to friendly.
I should’ve taken a moment to get my mind right before engaging my family, but I didn’t. The result: hurt feelings, offense, and unnecessary tension between me and the very people I love most. Naturally, I would have to apologize.
This situation, though not explosive, is indicative of a larger issue. One that I wasn’t aware of until recently. As I have been trying to work through a couple of different relational hiccups in my life, I’ve wondered if I expect too much of others. I’ve wondered if I just need to be more patient or more forgiving. I’ve even wondered if I just don’t deserve better than what I am getting. I’m not just talking about relationships with my husband and children. I’m talking about relationships with friends, with colleagues, with other parent volunteers, with others in ministry. I’m talking about relationships being affected in every sphere in which I operate.
Friend, when you find yourself reaping similar fruit regardless of the garden you are working in, you have to stop and consider the seed that has been planted! If you’re experiencing related types of issues in varying situations, it might be a good idea to try to find the connection.
My Pastor is known to point out that “you are the only common denominator in all of your relationships”!
And so with that, I held up the mirror of God’s word and began to search for the answer. I began looking for common themes across my relationships so I could cooperate with God in addressing whatever particular character trait or personal quality needed work. The shocker was that God didn’t say I have a problem with patience. He didn’t say I have a problem with pride. He didn’t even tell me that I’m spoiled or demanding. He simply said,
“LaWanda sweetie, you have a love problem.”
A love problem?
What does that even mean!? I love people!
The problem is not that I don’t love people. The problem is that I don’t love the way God loves. Well, I contend that loving like He loves is pretty much impossible. I mean, consider what His love has done! Jeesh. God, however, insists that it is only impossible when I try to do it without His help.
So then, the solution to every single relationship issue you, or I, will ever have is to simply LOVE MORE.
Let me clarify: This is not to love more like I currently love.
My love says, “you couldn’t just do that…? I bet I won’t…”
My love says, “you’ve disappointed me, so I can’t meet your need…”
My love says, “I can’t always be the one to…”
My love is imperfect. My love is conditional.
To love more is not just to give more of the same, but to give God’s kind of love. Agape love. 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter, is a good place to start understanding how to love like God loves. This is a two-part post, so don’t worry, you won’t be overwhelmed by the vastness of such a love!
Love is Patient. This means being slow to become angry with others. Agape love empowers us to endure troubles (go through) and suffer-long with others. It didn’t take me long to see: if love is patient, then I do indeed have a love problem!
Love is Kind. Showing kindness, and being mild-tempered is an attribute that God possess and expects in us. So, tell me friend: How kind are you when you are in a hurry? Angry? Since I didn’t meet the standard for patience, perhaps I’m not as kind as I could be either.
Love does not Envy. Agape doesn’t feel resentment about the advantages, possessions, or successes of another. It doesn’t covet the things of another. Well, I have been delivered from envy, but it was not without years of failures and struggles in this area. As with any area of deliverance, I have to stay vigilant to maintain my freedom in this area. Hint: if you have a problem comparing yourself or your accomplishments to others, you are more likely to have a problem with envy.
Love does not Boast. I often consider boasting as this bold and egregious act of self-aggrandizement. Which it is, but boasting can also come in subtle acts like responding to people in ways that imply you are above or smarter than them because of some experience or credential.
Love is not Haughty. How often do you hear, “I’m not conceited, I’m just confident.” The line is finer than you think! Self-confidence is good, but it has to be rooted in your trust in Christ. Like boasting, don’t think of conceit as flagrant. Pride can show itself in so many ways, that you can actually be guilty of being haughty and conceited without realizing that’s what it is. Have you ever thought to yourself, “I am too good to tolerate______ (fill in the blank)? Probably not, but even doing something like driving on the shoulder instead of waiting in traffic like everyone else, sure implies just that!
How are you doing so far? Do you have a love problem too? We can learn to build stronger, more impactful relationships…we can learn to love more!
Be sure to tune in next Tuesday for Part 2.