Monday, April 22, 2013

Blessings and Curses 2

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
- Deuteronomy 30:19-20

It seems to me that most of us find it easier to modulate our tempers and have more patience with people who are not part of our families.

I think this is because we invest less of ourselves with strangers and acquaintances. Our expectations are much higher for those people we live with day in and day out than those we merely work with or see occasionally.

We want to come home and relax and not have to filter everything we say and do.

We tend to have a blind spot for our behavior in regards to our families. The people who are closest to us are able to disappoint, frustrate, and hurt us more than anyone else and so we act and react more intensely with them.

All of this can lead to situations in our homes that range from not great to very bad.

The remedy for these situations are hard work. Our parents were right when they said nothing worth having, comes easily. Many of us have fallen for the storybook portrayal of married life and believe that if we are with the 'right' person marriage is easy and our children are perfect.

This is a LIE! Relationships, no matter how old or new they are, take effort. Think of relationships with your family as trying to garden in Texas. You have to start with the soil - amending it so it will support your plants. You have to make sure it's the right season for what you are trying to cultivate. You have to protect your plants from bugs and scavengers, floods and drought. At some point, you have to prune to ensure healthy, future growth. Maybe, if you do all of this well, you will collect a harvest.

It takes a lot of TLC, time, and patience to get a harvest and some years are pretty lean.

Our families are our own personal gardens where we have to build a strong foundation of love and trust. No matter how long you've been married or how old your kids get, you have to take the time to nurture those relationships through kind words, affirmations, time and affection. Our relationships will stagnate and break down if we don't make the effort to do these things.

You sometimes might feel like you are the only member of your family doing the hard work. But I guarantee your spouse and kids also feel the same way (hopefully at different times!)

As people who have been offered forgiveness and grace countless times by our Savior, how can we not turn and give the same forgiveness and grace to those we love most in this world.

As we work to pass on God's grace to our families, we will find that we need it from them just as much (if not more) as they need it from us.

Coming to realize that we are not only 'putting up' with them, but that they are 'putting up' with us is an important realization. It gives us the ability to bend and soften our positions so that we can be less reactive and more interactive. As we acknowledge our own need for grace in the intimate relationships we have, we are also better able to give it.

Chesney Szaniszlo