My daughter, Anna, and I went grocery shopping yesterday. I told her that I felt like I was on vacation because the only time I go grocery shopping is when we take a family vacation. (Don’t judge me.)
For some reason, grocery shopping led to a conversation about marriage, and I shared with my single daughter that marriage can be difficult even in the best of circumstances, and then when you throw in our selfishness and pride, marriage can get downright ugly.
I find this in myself far too often: I want to win more than I want reconciliation. And this surfaces over the silliest of things, such as arguing over what we had for supper last Friday night. Me: “I had a baked potato.” Laura: “No, you had mashed potatoes. Don’t you remember?” Me: “NO! It was a baked potato!” Laura: “Whatever you say, dear.” And she rolls her eyes.
If I center my marriage on being right rather than on being relationally healthy, I will always succumb to the temptation of pride and selfishness. I will see every issue as a competition where there’s a winner and a loser, and I will do everything possible to prove that I’m right—even if the issue is what I had for supper.
In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he writes that we are to “walk in a manner worthy of our calling . . . with all humility and gentleness” (Ephesians 4:1-2). I know I should display this in relationships with friends, fellow believers, and people who don’t believe in Jesus, but do I display this with my wife? I hope so.
Eighteenth-century preachers, John Wesley and George Whitefield, were good friends until their doctrinal differences divided them. Years later, they reconciled, even though their followers did not. The story is told that after Whitefield’s death, one of Wesley’s followers asked him, “Do you think you’ll see Mr. Whitefield in heaven?”
Wesley replied that he didn’t expect to see Whitefield there. Delighted with Wesley’s response, the woman pressed him further. “Then you don’t really believe he was converted?”
“Converted? Of course, he’s converted,” Wesley responded. “But I do not expect to see him in heaven because he will be so close to the throne of God, and I so far away, that I doubt I will be able to see him” (Revolution Within, 177).
Humility and gentleness—two traits we all need to walk in a manner worthy of our calling. Maybe, like me, you have a much easier time showing those traits to people at work than to your family at home.
Let’s make the choice to grow in humility and gentleness so that our marriages and families are not based on who is right but on being right in how we treat one another.