Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Just Be Nice

 (submitted by Kerry Patton)
"Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”   Ephesians 4:31-32
Life Is Relationships
I don’t know how I ventured so deeply into life without ever hearing the statement: “Life is relationships”, but I was immediately impacted by the truth of those words when I finally heard them.  I have found them to be not only true, but also enlightening into just about every aspect of life.  Life is not money.  It is not wealth, or fame.  It is certainly not power, and it is not about the accumulation of material possessions.  Life is about relationships with Almighty God, our Lord Jesus, the Holy Spirit, our family, friends, and other human beings with whom we experience this life. 
With this truth in mind, I never cease to be amazed at how so many people are working hard in their own world to rid themselves of relationships.  Oh, perhaps they aren’t overtly trying to end the relationships of their lives, but in actions and attitudes, they are actively doing so…and perhaps without realizing it.
Graduates of Our Parent’s School
Frequently when I am addressing nearly-wed couples in counseling, I ask them about their parent’s marriage.  “Consider for a moment your parent’s marriage.  What qualities or patterns from their relationship would you like to bring forward into your marriage?”  The reactions are usually quite humorous, and more than a little concerning.  Sometimes, I’ll get a reaction of positive qualities that parents have exhibited before their children…but not usually.  There is generally a display of mock horror and uncomfortable laughter.  Usually, the answer to the question is: “Nothing!”  Why?  Well, in many families, children have grown up seeing the daily interaction between parents; the fussing and fighting, the disrespectful replies and irritated responses that so many couples have woven into the fabric of their marriage through the years.  And THESE are the very skills of loving and co-existing that children learn by example, then grow up and put into action in their own marriages as adults.  The disconcerting truth is: We are all graduates of our parent’s school of communication and marital bliss.  For many, this is a terrifying revelation.  Our children…are learning how to treat other people…by watching how we treat people.

While this can be disconcerting, it is also an opportunity for us to be very honest and transparent with our children. 
“You know kids, your mother and I realize that we have not been showing you how a husband and a wife should communicate and love toward each other.  There are many things that we learned wrong from our own parents.  We want to make sure you don’t learn them wrong from us!  From now on, we want you to see how Mommies and Daddies should treat one another…” 
“Kids, I’ve come to the realization that I have a problem…you may have already seen it yourselves.  Sometimes, when I get frustrated or tired, I’m just not very nice or pleasant to be around.  I don’t like this about myself.  And I don’t want you guys to think that is how God wants us to treat others.  So, I’m working and praying to change my behavior.  I’m hopeful that you will come to see that change very soon!”
Candid confession and determination to show our kids a better way are an excellent start to helping them toward a future of healthy relationships themselves.  And an excellent tack to take is to simply be nice to one another.

Ephesians 4:29 encourages us: (ESV) “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Let’s commit ourselves to speaking to one another in ways that are good for building each other up.  Putting aside criticism and negativism. 

Almighty God, I pray in faith the prayer of King David from Psalm 19:14 – “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.” And let me ever work to honor my mate, and be a Christ-like example for my children.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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