Around our house, many interactions end like this:
Me (usually in my head): Why didn’t she . . .
Susan (usually in her head): Why isn’t he . . .
Then, several days later, after I have made up several unhealthy stories, beaten myself up for the dysfunction I’m causing, and chosen to hide behind my emotionless mask, this unfolds . . .
Me (wish it was in my head): Why didn’t you . . .
Susan (in response to): I can’t believe you . . .
After this, we’re both left feeling the freedom of bringing our sin into the light and the guilt of hurting the one we love.
Why do we do this? Why do we hurt the ones we love? I think it all boils down to expectations. I expect Susan to be quick to forgive and slow to judge . . . and she expects me to be slow to anger and slow to speak. We need more generosity, and ultimately, more grace.
The idea of generosity in relationships came to me recently through the podcast Love or Work. The couple being interviewed discussed how generous explanations play a significant role in their marriage. Here’s how I understood it . . .
The reality is, you and your spouse will offend each other and hurt each other. When that happens, choose to be generous with the explanation the other person gives. They have their reasons . . . listen to how and why they did what they did. Give them the benefit of the doubt.
If the marriage example doesn’t resonate with you, apply the same concept to parenting or friendship. Your kids will let you down . . . your close friends will let you down. Rather than hide in the shadows avoiding the pain, step into the light and don’t quietly assume the worst.
In interactions like the one above, I’m not acting generously. Instead of giving the benefit of the doubt, I assume an intentional action against me. But now that I realize this, I can begin to work on choosing generosity.
So, here’s to future disagreements, but prayerfully with different outcomes.
Scripture: Dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow-up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. (James 1:19-20, The Message)