Love and Relationships

Love and Relationships

Flaws and All

by Virginia Forste

 

My engagement ring has a rich history of love. The diamond was gifted to my grandfather’s three—yes three—consecutive wives. I am thankful for that love that continues on my own left hand. The reflections of each tiny angular surface of the gem remind me of my husband’s excitement the day he picked it up from the jeweler. That afternoon he was beaming, though I didn’t know why for two months.

Occasionally I have this treasure professionally cleaned. If the jeweler holds my ring in a certain position under the magnifying glass and bright light, the gem’s imperfections are revealed. I don’t go around bragging about its inadequacies; only the jeweler and I are aware of the ring’s flaws.

If you are married, take a moment to reflect back to your wedding day: The piano is playing, “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” softly in the background. The elegantly dressed bridesmaids and groomsmen are in place with their bouquets and boutonnieres. The tears are welling up in your mother’s eyes as you are about to embrace the love of your life to begin a beautiful journey together.

As you take one final breath before your big moment, the wedding planner walks up behind you and whispers into your ear, “Are you sure you really want to marry this person? I heard she is terrible with money.” Or, a bridesmaid puts her hand on your shoulder and says, “I heard he belches at nearly every meal.” Or a groomsman comments, “One time she forgot her own brother’s birthday!” Even the six-year-old ring bearer is shouting, “He picks his nose!”

You look around embarrassingly at the congregation that has gathered on this special day. Although some of those offenses are minor, you begin to wonder, Did I make a bad choice? Surely, you could find someone without all of these flaws.

We can all be like those hecklers, rehearsing our family member’s flaws to ourselves and to others. It is easy to see their flaws when we are exposed to them so often. It’s even easier to complain and mitigate our own weaknesses. Jesus Christ knew this. In Matthew 7:3, he threw out this rhetorical question, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (NIV).

The only control we have in our relationships is to improve ourselves. It’s not our job to remove the flaws—the specks of sawdust in our brother’s/friend’s/boyfriend’s/girlfriend’s eye. But we can change how we think about our partner and focus on their positive qualities.

Harriet Lerner, a family therapist and author notes, “We cannot make another person change his or her steps to an old dance, but if we change our own steps the dance no longer can continue in the same predictive pattern.” We can only change ourselves. And we have the ability to change our own perspective about the people around us.

Second Corinthians 10:5 demands that we “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (NIV). God asks us to do what we are capable of doing. We can change our thoughts.

Jesus did something that should make us change our thoughts about ourselves. Without God every human being is a total mess, but thankfully, God did not leave us that way. The apostle Paul tells us in Romans 5:6-8, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (NIV).

Jesus didn’t view us as apathetic sinners and declare us hopeless. When we did nothing to inspire a bright future, he sacrificed his very life for us. Jesus loves us and sees the potential in our very best qualities. It is as though he is our jeweler and he sees us as diamonds in the very best light. That allows us to shine radiantly no matter what relationships we are in.

Jesus calls all of his children to love each other according to hisstandards, not ours: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34, 35, NIV).

Loving others as God loved us (when we were a mess!) sets us apart from the love-when-we-feel-like-it culture that we are surrounded by every day.It is our responsibility to shine our light on others’ strengths, not their weaknesses. What would happen in all of your relationships if you chose to view others in your life as a diamond and be intentional about highlighting their positive qualities?

 

Virginia Forste is a former elementary education teacher and stay-at-home mom who maintains her sanity via a bit of writing on the side.

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