Archive | Conversation – the Tongue RSS feed for this section

How to Live a ‘Golden Rule Lifestyle’

26 Aug

Three young boys keep my young friend Deedra Lindsey Sherm busy these days. I had to laugh at this exchange she shared on Facebook:

Son #1: “Mom! He hit me!”

Deedra to Son #2: “Son, did you hit your brother?”

Son #2: “Yes, but he hit me, so …uh …you know … the Golden Rule!”

LOL, right?

Obviously, Son #2 didn’t have a clue about the true meaning of the Golden Rule. The biblical maxim is, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matthew 7:12). In other words, we are to treat others as we want them to treat us. Son #2 would re-write that to read, “Do unto others BECAUSE they just did to you!”

The same Golden Rule concept is found in the Old Testament in Leviticus 19:18 ~ “…you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Other than the obvious fact that this will make our “neighbors” (or anyone we have contact with) enjoy greater blessings, it also does something for us. We feel better about how we relate to others; we feel happier and we know we are pleasing God. When we are generous in our interactions with people, God blesses us in unexpected ways (see Proverbs 11:25).

So what are some practical ways we can live out the royal rule in relationships ~ the Golden Rule? Here are eight simple ways:

(1) Think and reflect. Take time to consider how you’d want to be treated. Use your imagination. Create some scenarios and think, “How would I want someone to respond? What would I want someone to do or say?”

(2) Ask God for a sensitive heart. Try to understand, as best you can, what a person’s need is or why he or she behaves in a certain way. Walk a mile in a person’s moccasins (or Jimmy Choo heels) so you can empathize. Let a Golden Rule lifestyle begin with you! Pray for opportunities to bless others.

(3) Act with kindness and compassion (see Ephesians 4:32). Have you ever noticed that once you “get” the suffering or circumstances of others, you are drawn to help them or at least pray for them? Rather than practicing random acts of kindness, be proactive. Ask, “What can I do, if anything, to relieve this person’s pain or struggle?” When God speaks, follow through.

(4) Open your ears before you speak. It’s so easy to give advice before we have the whole story (Proverbs 18:13); and sometimes all a person needs is a caring person who will listen. Understanding comes through listening, not talking. Consider how you would want to be heard, and respect others enough to give them the same courtesy.

(5) Be a helper and healer. It’s so easy to get tunnel vision ~ to only see our own needs. Once our eyes are open to needs and struggles, it’s a sign of great personal strength to be helpful in practical ways, or even to find ways to bind up (bandage) a person’s heart. (I recognize that sometimes, only Jesus can help and heal; but maybe you can remind a person that a loving God has all the power and help they will ever need. You may need to introduce them to Him.)

(6) Be a true friend. Be careful and respect others’ boundaries, but ask God to help you reach out in friendship in a meaningful way. Open your heart and arms and welcome people into your life. Let them know you care and want to be with them.

(7) See the individual, not your differences. Think of the story of the Good Samaritan ~ the man who reached out to care for the desperate victim saw him as a man, not through the lens of prejudice. Think about any prejudices you might have that would prevent you from practicing The Golden Rule:  age differences? skin color or nationality? gender? appearances? Ask God to help you see people the way He sees them. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Everyone has needs. Be humble and Christ-like, looking out for the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-7).

(8) Sometimes, turn the other cheek (see Luke 6:27-31). Some people are just plain mean and uncaring. But that doesn’t mean we retaliate or “pay them back” for their bad treatment. The Golden Rule isn’t an excuse for retaliation when others act extreme; but rather, encouragement to treat others well, regardless of their behavior. We allow others to own their feelings and behaviors, and we rise above circumstances as we put on the character of Christ and respond as He would.

The simple truth is, a Golden Rule Lifestyle will bless us as we bless others. Live it out “as to the Lord” (Ephesians 6:7).

Does someone come to mind that needs to experience the Golden Rule, applied from your life to theirs? How will you respond?

– Dawn

Advertisements

Those Pesky Idiosyncracies

27 May

It’s been said that married men should forget their mistakes. There’s no sense in two people remembering the same thing.

It’s also been said that marriage is a relationship where one person is always right … and the other is the husband.

Those jokes are funny, but not too kind to the menfolk!

Unfortunately, marriage is a sea of challenges that requires graceful navigation!

I was recently encouraged by a book about this complicated relationship. Elaine W. Miller wrote We All Married Idiots, a book that examines three things we will never change about our marriages, and then she offers ten things we can all work on to improve the husband-wife relationship. (1)

In one chapter, Elaine talks about learning to live with each other’s idiosyncrasies.

“Since living with idiosyncrasies is a part of marriage,” she wrote, “You might as well treasure those peculiar habits. One day you might miss them. I know I did.”

Elaine’s husband Dan was a tapper. He tapped on things. “I think in his mind the whole world is his trumpet as his fingers play a perpetual tune,” she said. “He taps the table when he eats, the steering wheel when he drives, the newspaper when he reads, the pulpit when he preaches, and my shoulders when he puts his arms around me.”

The tapping got hard to take. “If I let it,” Elaine said, “his tapping gets on my nerves. Many times I have said in an irritated voice, ‘Would you please stop tapping!’

“However,” she added, “when he was hospitalized and I was uncertain if he would live through the night, those words weren’t on my lips. I stared at his silent fingers, held his motionless hands, and pleaded, ‘Please, God, let me feel his fingers tapping.’

“Funny how our perspective on idiosyncrasies changes under different circumstances,” she said. “Many will admit the very thing that bugs them is what first enticed them to their beloved, and what they will miss the most when their loved one is gone.”

I remember reading about a woman who hated her husband’s snoring. She complained and poked him through the night. But after the man died, she told a friend she’d “give anything to hear that man snore again!”

Those pesky idiosyncrasies are simply more proof that we are all unique, and the truth is, every marriage has them. It is our attitude that makes the difference. Elaine explains that love is kind (according to 1 Corinthians 13:4). And what does that look like? “Being kind to your mate means overlooking those oddities that sometimes drive you crazy. The next time your love does the idiotic, remember this ~ you married an idiot and so did your spouse.” (2)

Elaine points out that the words “idiosyncrasy” and “idiot” both come from the same Greek root word (idio) meaning “common man.” In other words, we all do things that are a bit eccentric or peculiar from time to time.

As I thought about this, I realized how many times simple kindness and grace ~ and especially loving words ~ have acted like soothing oil in my own marriage. (Sometimes I can’t believe that my husband has put up with me this long!)

Rather than focusing on each other’s quirks, we’ve chosen to concentrate on what is good, pure, lovely, etc. (see Philippians 4:8). Some of those pesky idiosyncrasies remain, but they aren’t “issues” anymore. We’ve learned to love and accept each other and try to see each other through the eyes of the Redeemer we both love.

When I stop to think that God created me with unique idiosyncrasies ~ and He loves me ~ it encourages me to share the same kind of love with others, especially my spouse.

How about you? When you think about your spouse (or if you’re not married, a boss or a parent or someone else you have a relationship with on a regular basis), is there something that the person does that really bugs you? Could love, acceptance, patience and mega doses of grace ease your frustration?

(1) Elaine W. Miller, We All Married Idiots (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, 2012), p. 7.

(2) ibid, p. 7.

Elaine Miller is a member of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA) and has authored two other books, Splashes of Serenity: Bathtime Reflections for Drained Moms and Splashes of Serenity: Bathtime Reflections for Drained Wives. http://www.splashesofserenity.com.

R U ‘Always Right’?

1 Aug

Red Skelton in tophatOne of comedian Red Skelton’s funniest routines is often shared as “Red Skelton’s Recipe for the Perfect Marriage.”  I (Dawn) have often wondered whether his jibes at his “wife” were part of the reason the humorist struggled through his own marriages.  Skelton joked:

“I haven’t spoken to my wife in 18 months. I don’t like to interrupt her.”

“I asked my wife where she wanted to go for our anniversary. ‘Somewhere I haven’t been in a long time!’ she said. So I suggested the kitchen.”

“The last fight was my fault… My wife asked, ‘What’s on the TV?’ I said, ‘Dust!'”

And a favorite, “I married Miss Right. I just didn’t know her first name was ‘Always.'” (1)

I (Dawn) have to admit that for many years in my marriage, I was Mrs. Always Right.

It seems that, after the honeymoon ended, I couldn’t help correcting my husband, Bob. The truth was, I could help it, but I didn’t … I just enjoyed always being “right”!

I corrected my husband’s manners, though he was a well-mannered man. I corrected his eating choices, though overall they were actually better than mine. I corrected his spelling, when I should have focused on his good ideas. I even corrected his “loud laugh” in public.

It was this loud laugh that eventually led to my seeing how critical I’d become. Once, as Bob got tickled about a friend’s joke, he let loose with a loud guffaw. I cringed, and was about ready to “shush” him when a woman leaned over to me and said, “Don’t you just love Bob’s laugh? He can sure light up a room.”

I stared at my husband, and then looked around the room. Yes indeed. People were smiling, and they were drawn to him. They moved toward him and quickly joined in the fun while I stood on the sidelines. I suddenly realized that I’d been viewing my hubby through the wrong lens. Mine. Not God’s.

This was verified in another instance. I was critical of  Bob’s easy-going personality.

Critical Woman

Mrs. Always Right

I wished he’d be more bold. I kept nagging him to step up, stand up, and speak up! (Advice I should have taken more to heart myself, by the way.)

Then one day, a friend told me Bob’s personality played into how God worked in a ministry overseas. His gentle manner smoothed confrontations, and his peace-loving persona even diffused potential run-ins with the KGB! His easy-going responses enabled team members to function together without stress. Then, I thought about his infinite patience with me.

I discovered that my desire to be “always right” in Bob’s life sprung more from pride than concern for him. I was always worried about how he would reflect on me. The truth was, Bob’s critical wife was a poor reflection on him. As I began to see my critical spirit from God’s perspective, I wondered how Bob had ever put up with me.

I am thankful to God that He helped me to put off a critical spirit and put on a spirit of encouragement (Ephesians 4:22-24).  Note: See below for a list of other attitudes to put off – put on. (2)

And I cannot tell you how thankful I am for a husband ~ so perfect for me, my counterpart ~ who is authentic and used of God.

How about you, Friend? Are you so concerned about being “right” that you use your words, attitudes, and actions to tear down others, perhaps even the one God has given you to love and bless?

Let me encourage you to “put off” that critical spirit and “put on” the characteristics of love (I Corinthians 13:4-8a).  Better always loving than “always right” when “right” is a false front for pride.

(1) http://www.clown-ministry.com/index_1.php/articles/red_skeltons_recipe_for_the_perfect_marriage/

(2) This is a great list of other attitudes to put off and put on!

%d bloggers like this: