Relationships are messy … or why I need to take a look in the mirror

Earlier today the wife and I got in an argument. She’s always giving the benefit of the doubt to a certain child in the family. She never thinks that one does anything wrong. She’s too lenient and always making excuses for why that one shouldn’t face my wrath. LIke most arguments we have, it’s because she’s not willing to listen to my viewpoint. Sometimes I try to bargain with her: Look, I’ll concede on this issue if you’ll just agree with me here.

Sound familiar?

Relationships are messy. Doesn’t matter if the relationship is with a spouse, a kid, a co-worker, a friend; it’s messy. The same is true of our relationship with God.

The argument I had with my wife? You could just as easily insert God there. Something bad happened to you? God’s fault. Something good happened to an undeserving (to you, anyway) co-worker? God’s fault.

In Acts 17:22-27, Paul tells the Athenians that God exists and doesn’t just want to be known by you, he wants to know you. That means God wishes to have a relationship with you. Just like your spouse, friends, family and co-workers, God does not expect you to be perfect. So this relationship will be messy just like the others in your life.

I can hear you asking, “How can I make less of a mess of it?” I’m fortunate that Pastor Scott at First Alliance Church talked about exactly this today so I can answer your question.

Most counselors, therapists and psychologists will tell you to take a look in the mirror. You can’t control what the other person is doing and you cannot change them. You are responsible for your actions and being who you are. You can change you (some will argue you can do this alone, some will say you need God … you can guess which camp I’m in).

The first step when you look in the mirror is to ask yourself if you understand the other member of the relationship. Again, whether it’s God or your wife, this is necessary. Many people either don’t believe in God or hate him because their lack of understanding of who he is leads them to blame everything on him. It’s true when you argue with your wife, too. In my case, she loves our kids (so do I!) and views everything like a judge should: no decision until I have the facts; innocent until proven guilty. I am big on these traits in society, but around the house I like to think I’m king, judge, jury and executioner at times.

Now, back to the mirror. What was your part in what happened? In my case today I was quick to judge and condemn someone based on one phone call from one of the other kids. I was impatient and wanted to deal with the issue NOW NOW NOW. In your relationship with God you need to understand that God is constant and perfect and holy. We are not any of the above. God made the rules and he lives by them. When we do things that break the rules, there are consequences. Sometimes they directly impact you and sometimes they echo through the generations and across the globe. So sometimes bad things happen to good people as a result.

Finally, God tries to reach us and teach us even in the messy parts. Look in the mirror and ask yourself, what can you do differently to make the situation better and repair the relationship. I learned something about myself today in my argument with Carolyn and it also taught me something about her … and about God. For that I am thankful.

I’m also thankful that I remembered another part about messy relationships: asking for forgiveness, but that’s another topic.

Is there a time where looking in the mirror helped you resolve a messy relationship issue?


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