Monkey See Monkey Do
One of the great privileges I have as an ordained minister is to perform wedding ceremonies. I say it is a privilege because of how I approach the actual ceremony. I won’t just marry any couple without first taking the time to sit down with them and hear their stories. I love to hear how they first met and what caused them to fall in love. It is an honor to get to really know them. I also want to help them establish a foundation for a marriage that will last a lifetime. So, the first question I ask them is, “What kind of marriage relationship did your parents have?” I follow that up with questions about what they believe makes a healthy marriage and so on. I believe that what we witnessed growing up directly affects our current and future relationships. Have you ever thought about that?
You may have learned a lot of bad habits growing up when it comes to relationships. How did your family teach you to resolve conflict? Did you learn how to forgive or how to hold a grudge? Did your family show you how to deal with your anger? Many believe that the dysfunction in families is getting worse. How can you change that perception/reality?
The Naughty and Nice List
I believe the answer is to develop your relationships. You can do that by eliminating your “naughty list” and speaking the truth in love. We tend to put people we know on two lists like Santa Clause. There is the nice list and the naughty list. The nice list are people we enjoy spending time with and the naughty list are those that ticked us off at some point. We ignore them or even do mean things to them. Is your naughty list bigger than your nice list? Would you like to stop hating other people?
Forgiveness and Truth
I read it somewhere that holding a grudge is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die. In other words, it is more harmful to you to not forgive others and move forward. I know what you are thinking. I cannot possibly understand what horrible things they did to you. Maybe not, but I lived 10 years with an alcoholic step-father that was abusive. I understand hating someone. Yet, as an adult I chose to forgive him even though he never asked for it. I knew it would be healing for me. He is no longer on my naughty list. I believe if you develop the habit of forgiving others quickly, you will be a much happier person overall. That is the first step in developing great relationships.
Secondly, you should speak the truth in love. In a letter to the church in Ephesus, Paul says, “Speak the truth in love so we can grow up” (Ephesians 4:15). The purpose of telling someone the truth about their life and not just what they want to hear is to help them mature. We used to have this saying on our playground, “Act your age not your shoesize.” It was our way of saying grow up and stop acting like a baby. Do you have someone in your life speaking truth to you? Can they point out your faults without you getting defensive? Do they speak the truth to help you grow up? Do you speak the truth to others to help them grow as well?
This year I taught freshman in high school. It has been a long time since I taught this age. Many times, I was taken aback by their immaturity. It took a lot of patience on my part to speak the truth in love and avoid sarcasm. Everything I said to them was for the purpose of their growth. I certainly didn’t get a thank you, but I hope someday they will appreciate the role I played in their lives.
How awesome is it to have a friend that you can trust and knows you deeply? These friends are a result of speaking the truth in love. You need to develop as many of these relationships as you can. At the same time, you should be removing those from your naughty list. This is one of the most important healthy habits you will ever develop. I hope you make it a daily discipline to develop your relationships.
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