When home life becomes sour, husbands and wives tend to fall into predictable patterns. While these are not universal they do have historic and Biblical recognition. So, I want to point out the patterns which you are tempted to fall into and the Biblical solution to wrong responses.
Interpersonal relationship is made difficult by the fact that it is “personal” – inter-personal. We look for close affectional bonds and relationships of mutual respect and trust. We want to be loved, appreciated, valued, empowered, given room to express ourselves and so on. These ideals are anchored deep in our “personal” self.
Stop Being Personal
When someone offends us or strains our relationship with them it is hard not to take that personally. When we take it personally we spiral into predictable patterns and responses.
The solution, then, is to stop being “personal” about life. But that’s like saying, “Stop breathing!” We are so distracted by our inner self and our hopes, dreams, insecurities, fears, longings, and so on, that it is hard not to be “personal” about them. In fact, for many people, EVERYTHING is personal!
You stop being “personal” about life, not by numbing or destroying your inner self, but by resolving and releasing your inner self. When you find true love, joy and peace, with wholeness, confidence, trust in God, faith in God’s Word, release from your inner slaveries, and similar spiritual impacts of walking with God, your inner self is realised and released. You can then soar above the regular or even more challenging issues of life, like an eagle soaring high above a storm.
You will “mount up with wings like an eagle”!
Back to Earth
Eagle Shmeagle! What’s the point of this talk about eagles when you live like a Turkey among a bunch of Turkeys?! While soaring above the problems is your ideal and the goal of your life, the reality is that most people can’t even jump, let alone soar above the issues.
Humans are incredibly useless creatures. We are tied up in the things of our “flesh”, such as our pride, lusts, evil heart responses, sin, weakness, selfishness, independence, and so on. Man does not have the key to unlock his problems or the wisdom to plot his own path.
“O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walks to direct his steps.” Jeremiah 10:23
That’s why New Year’s Resolutions generally don’t work. Those resolutions rely on flawed creatures, who can’t save themselves.
Man’s hope is not in himself. It is not in the strength of will or the force of personality. It is not in controls and regulations. Man needs the input of the Divine to empower him to overcome the limits of the Temporal.
Your lead feet keep you on the ground. Your lead feet are those things that hold you to the ground and make it impossible for you to fly. And that includes all of your “fleshly” aspects. Your flesh buys into life at the level of your self-interest, lusts, pride and folly.
“And the LORD said, My spirit will not always strive with man, because he is also flesh….” Genesis 6:3a
Your “flesh” is your lead shoes. If you can die to your flesh, you can soar. If you insist on protecting your selfish interests (your fleshly focus) you will never escape your problems and your slavery.
“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” Galatians 5:24
Personal is Personal
Inter-“personal”- relationships are “personal”. They are ‘person to person’. The more open and honest each person is with the other then the deeper and richer the relationship. A formal relationship is not personal. And when one party is not interested in being open and honest with the other then deep relationship is not really possible.
Now, when an issue gets “personal” it is because it has impacted the personal limitations of one or other of the people. Something is only “personal” because it challenges the “person”. That’s why in some homes and communities certain things are discussed that others will never mention, because those things are too “personal”.
One person may speak openly about their failures while others take their whole life trying to hide any of their failures.
If you are full of personal vulnerabilities then just about everything will be personal to you. Those who are delightfully free on the inside don’t get personal about things that come up. They can face the issues without feeling their inner self compromised or challenged. They don’t have fears or shame to contend with. So the issue is a “light” one to them, while it is unbearably “heavy” to others.
So, the limitations upon interpersonal relationships relate directly to the quality of the persons involved. Tensions in the home result from each member taking things personally, based on their “flesh” perspective on life. The more pride, selfishness and unresolved issues a person has, the more things that come up will be “personal” to them. They will not be able to dismiss things or forgive others as freely as they should.
Because humans are not free from their limitations there are predictable patterns which are repeated over and over again, through history. I will explore these patterns in greater detail in the next posts in this series. Allow me here to point out the predictable patterns which you will clearly recognise.
When women, especially wives, are offended or upset in a relationship, they tackle their husband or those they have taken issue with a tenacity that will not let the matter rest. Women tend to go on the offensive with words and persistence that may drive their husband crazy. He is likely to say, “She won’t let up!”
When men, including husbands, are offended or upset in a relationship, they tend to shut down and withdraw from the offender. If the offence is serious enough a man will erect barriers between himself and the offender. Those barriers can be completely impenetrable. A wife is likely to say, “He just shuts down and locks me out of his life!”
The simple solution, and this is a perfectly real solution despite its simplicity, is to become free from “self”. When we live for God, outside our own selfish orientation, we can rise above the demands, foibles and limitations of our humanness and fleshly self.
We are not able to achieve that of our own will. We need God to make that possible for us. Don’t give up by saying, “I could never do that!” You are not supposed to do it. You are supposed to let God do it in you and for you.
So, no matter how much you have messed up your relationships there is a powerful solution. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. And it will be wonderfully effective. And all of this will be more fully explained later in this series.