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Irritating Strengths

Personal growth is exciting to watch. Just this week, I encountered a couple who had a choice to either accept that change was necessary and develop new skills in their lives  or ignore the call to grow and continue in their familiar discomfort. They have been frustrated for a while because they seem to be in continual friction with one another. They love each other but their life together seems harder than it should be. He has a relaxed, easy-going, take it as comes approach to life which used to be really attractive to her because she felt calmer when she was around him. She has a sensitive, compassionate approach to life which he used to find attractive because he felt more important when he was around her. They thought it would be like this forever but they forgot to factor in responsibility.
Now that they have two kids and active careers, the characteristics they used to love about each other have become irritating. She cares so deeply for their kids and all that it takes to support their lives that she is constantly aware of tasks that need to be completed, goals that need to be pursued, and decisions that need to be made. He, on the other hand, is acutely aware of the constant stress in their lives and senses the need to take time off, look for ways to play, and put the focus on the people themselves rather than all the tasks that take time away from the relationships. They both feel so strongly about their perspective that their strengths have become a platform for conflict.
It is scenarios just like this that make or break our lives. If this couple continues in this trend, it is easy to see they will grow discouraged and discontent. In our modern world, they will probably even conclude that it isn’t working and may even end up seeing divorce as a solution. On the other hand, if they can see the truth that what they love about each other has now become an irritation, they can reignite the passion of their relationship. They can begin to rely on each other’s best traits once again and build a stronger life together than they could ever accomplish as individuals. It will take some work to recapture this perspective but once they find it, life will seem easier to them.
I got to thinking about this couple because I read Jeremiah 6:16 this morning. “This is what the LORD says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.’”
There is always a way to walk that provides rest for our souls. Not because life got easier but because we are cooperating with the way God made us and made life.
As we talked about the unique way God made this couple, they had one of those “aha” moments. She said, “My husband is so laid back that I stopped trusting him to make decisions. I just took over and started doing what needs to be done. In reaction, he has become more relaxed and almost passive.”
He said, “I saw her becoming so frantic about our life that I knew I had to back way off or we would both create so much stress that it would be harmful to our kids.”
Together they said, “We are going to start this week asking each other, ‘Who is the best person to make this decision?’ and then trust the other to lead in the areas of their strengths. We honestly believe that will be better for us than what we have been doing.”
It will be a challenge to establish this kind of decision-making as a habit but I think you can tell their life will feel a whole a lot easier if they can actually “walk in it.”

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One Response

  1. Greatobservation, Bill. I know as our life transitions into a new area we are finding new skills and trying to learn to deal with adult children. Always a challenge! Love ya, man!!

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