A story is told of a couple that grew to find little to appreciate in one another. The daily tally of things each did that annoyed and aggravated the other was a growing list. More and more they did less and less together. In desperation, the woman visited a counselor taking along her journal record of all the attitudes and actions she resented in her husband. The counselor gave her one assignment: start a new journal and write down only the things her husband did right … and she must write daily in her new journal.
At first it seemed impossible, yet as the days passed the task seemed to get easier. One month later, she reported to the counselor that something remarkable was happening to her husband – he was changing. Without him even knowing about her journal, he started coming home earlier than usual seeming to be more relaxed to be there. He was noticing the change in her and without even knowing the cause, he was responding.
Choose your focus
That wonderful quote on love from 1 Corinthians 13, so often heard at weddings, holds a treasured nugget:“love keeps no record of wrongs”.
Every couple finds irritations in one another – we are imperfect people. Yet, how we decide, ahead of time, to respond to those irritations makes a world of difference in our relationships.
We can resent the irritations and eventually the person. We can count them. We can point them out. We can nag about them. Or we can choose to polish up the good things we see and hear and turn our focus there. We can pray about the irritations. We can also pray for growth in patience and gentleness in both our partner and in ourselves. When an issue truly needs to be addressed do it carefully and prayerfully without a spontaneous outburst.
Attitude is everything
Thankfulness is heart-changing. The way we perceive a situation is the way we will respond to it. Perception, whether or not it is factual, becomes truth to the individual. Choose early to have a love that “keeps no record of wrongs” but finds the good and stores up a “record of rights” in our hearts toward one another.
A wise friend of mine decided to begin a “record of rights” for her fiancé because she found the written word powerful and sometimes easier to express. She started the book without telling him about it and one day, when he was packing for a trip, she slipped it into his suitcase. He found it when he settled into his hotel room and read the whole thing. They both love this record of rights because it now serves to help them remember those first words and first feelings of her love and thankfulness for him and it helps them choose where to focus.
God’s wisdom, to keep no record of wrongs, is a powerful reminder to choose where we focus in the daily rubbing of shoulders and nitty-gritty of life.
He also promises to grant us the patience and gentleness, the kindness and thankfulness that we need day to day. We can simply ask Him, every day, to help us look with eyes that see the good and respond with love that polishes up the good we find in one another. When something needs to be addressed, we can ask Him to help us in the timing and attitude in which we approach it.
We can choose today that the “record of rights” will be our norm, before irritations have a chance to build a wall in our hearts.