We asked what you wanted to read more about on the LO Blog, and by far the most common theme requested was relationships. I totally get it! Relationships are hard! We are imperfect people loving imperfect people. How do we navigate that? There were a lot of questions that went something like this…How can I be a better/more Godly/happier wife/mom/sister/daughter/friend?
I love this question and I’m going to give you a simple answer because I believe that most things in life don’t take a rocket scientist to figure out (except for actual rocket science, for that you will need a rocket scientist). Here ya go: The best way to be a better you in your relationships is to treat the ones you love the most the very best. It’s that simple and, also, as difficult as you would imagine.
Why is this so difficult? Well, one reason is, the ones we love the most don’t always treat us the best. The first thing to remember in any relationship is that you can only work on you. All you can do is work to be a better, healthier, happier, kinder “you” which was exactly the question asked at the beginning of this blog—remember the question was, “How can I be a better….?”
A wise woman once told me, “You aren’t your husband’s Holy Spirit.” Neither are you your mom’s, your friend’s, or your sister’s Holy Spirit. Let the Spirit work on those around you and you work to be the best “you,” you can be. Even though you are only one part of the equation, when you change you, those around you will notice and over time they will start to change themselves. If they don’t, maybe you need to re-think that relationship, but that’s a whole other blog post.
Why do we give our best to people we don’t even know but treat the people we spend our lives with, the ones we promised to love forever and always, the very ones that hold our hair when we are throwing up, the ones that saw us through the hard times, so terribly? I think part of it is we feel safe with our loved ones. They are stuck with us. They literally can’t leave. We live in the same house; there is nowhere for them to go. We feel free to be “ourselves.” Unfortunately sometimes we are only giving them the bad parts of ourselves. It’s good to have people we can be real with, be vulnerable with, show the not so pretty parts to, free feel with, but it doesn’t mean we get to treat them badly.
“Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, it is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Hmmm, if you say you love your husband, boyfriend, sister, mom, dad, friend, you should probably check to see if the way you are treating them stacks up to this biblical definition. If it doesn’t, you’ve got some things to work on.
I’ll never forget a lesson a bible teacher I had in high school taught me. He had us write our name in the place of the word “love” in this verse as a reminder of how we are called to act toward others. So it would go like this, “Korie is patient, Korie is kind…” you get the idea. Do it for yourself. I promise you will re-think some of your interactions with the people you love the most.
Now for some practical ways to treat those you love the very best. I really believe that if you just add these three things into your daily life with your nearest and dearest, it will begin to change your relationships for the better.
1. Act excited when you see them. Think about what you do when you see a child that you love but haven’t seen in a while. A big smile comes across your face, you stretch out your arms, scoop them up into a big hug, maybe even swirl them around. Now contrast that with how you acted last night when you saw your husband for the first time after work. Ouch! I know! Did you even look up from your phone? Did you stop what you were doing to ask how his day was or did you launch into all the things that went wrong that day or all the things he forgot to do? What would happen if you ran over and gave him a big hug and then twirled him around when you first saw him after a long day? Would he think you had lost your mind? Maybe, but I bet he would love it! Think about your reaction you have when you see your kids, your friend, your mom, your roommate. Do you act excited when they walk through the door? Do you show them that you are happy that they are there? That first interaction can set the tone for the rest of your time together. Stop what you are doing, smile, walk over and give them a hug, ask them a question about their day. Think about how you would feel if someone did that for you. It would make your day better, right? Do that for the ones you love and see what happens.
2. Lead with the positive. I was reading Revelation the other day (I know you probably didn’t think I was going to bring up the book of Revelation in this blog about relationships did you!). Something struck me in the way God gave John the messages he wrote to the churches. He always started with something positive. These churches had some real problems, but every single time, before he said something they needed to work on, he praised them for something they were doing well. Here’s an example so you get the idea, Revelation 2:1-4: To the church in Ephesus, “I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance…you have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet hold this against you: you have forsaken your first love….” He then he goes on to tell them what they need to change.
I thought about it and realized God doesn’t have to do that. He doesn’t have to lead with praise or a compliment. He’s God! But He does, so maybe I should learn a little something from God’s example. I challenge you to incorporate the principle of leading with the positive into your relationships. It will change the way you are received by those you love.
Also, in doing this, it will force you to actually think of something positive about someone you might be having some struggles with. It might be difficult when you are angry, right? The person you thought was the love of your life just days before, suddenly you can’t recall anything they are doing right. But, if you make yourself think of something positive about that person, and say that first, you and the other person will be in a better state of mind to tackle the problem. Sometimes the hard things need to be said, but lead with the positive and the other person will be more ready to listen.
3. Always kiss them goodbye. A mother who lost a son to a motorcycle wreck years ago broke my heart when she reminded me, “You never know when it will be the last time you get to kiss them goodbye.” I know this is a difficult thing to think about, but it has stuck with me because it is so true. We aren’t promised tomorrow. We should live each day like it might be our last. If we do that, how would it change the way we treat the ones we love? Take the time to give them a kiss goodbye and tell them you love them every time they walk out of the door. It only takes a few seconds, but it may make all the difference.
I hope this is helpful! Every time I write to you I am in prayer that the things I write are meaningful to your lives. I know life can be difficult, and relationships are not easy. By giving you these simple things, I can’t promise you that it will solve all of your relationship problems, but I can tell you that these are things that have made a difference in my relationships. I do know that when you work on yourself, even if the other person doesn’t change, (because people can be stuck in bad habits that are hard to change, so be patient, this isn’t an overnight fix) you will be happier and more at peace because you are doing all that you can do and that always matters!
Try these 3 things for a week and let us know if it’s had an impact on your relationships. We’d love to hear!
Korie Robertson is a New York Times bestselling author and speaker who is passionate about motherhood. Korie (K-Swaggy) is a mom to Sadie — and five other amazing kids. In her free time, you’ll find her playing tennis, drinking coffee and spending time with her kids and new grandson, Zane.
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