Attitudes are chosen. They are not something that happen to us or something that lies outside our control.
Far too often, we can make poor decisions based on an emotional reaction to someone else’s actions. Then we blame that person’s actions for bringing up that poor attitude in us, as if we didn’t have control of our reaction.
The truth is, attitudes and reactions are chosen. We have the power to respond in the best of ways when we encounter the worst of scenarios.
This principle illustrates itself most clearly in the arena of marriage.
It’s been proven over the course of our marriage…and every marriage lasting longer than 6 seconds, that spouses screw up. Wives hurt husbands. Husbands mistreat wives. We all find our own creative ways to do so but it’s a brokenness that plagues us all.
I remember when my wife and I were in pre-marital counseling and our pastor and his wife shared with us a verse that has helped shaped our marriage more than any other:
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:32
Shouldn’t it be easy to be tenderhearted to the one we love more than anyone else? Why would it be hard to forgive the one that makes us happier than anyone else?
Remember all those marriages that lasted longer than 6 seconds? They all have one thing in common: they’re made up of people who hurt the people they love most. Hurt people hurt people and it’s never easy to forgive, even if it’s your spouse…sometimes especially if it’s your spouse.
So what happens when you’re the spouse that gets hurt? What happens when the love of your life doesn’t act very loving? In these instances you have two options:
- Have a careless, emotional reaction that is somehow validated based on the actions of the one who hurt you.
- Choose to lead your heart instead of being led by it. Choose to forgive before you hear an apology.
Instead of always passively reacting to the actions of your spouse, choose today to take active action to display the forgiveness that we who are following Jesus can show because God first forgave us.
If you’ve read this far, you’re probably wondering where the vomit comes in. It happened yesterday and it has nothing to do with marriage but everything to do with choose how to respond to others.
It was a relatively typical Sunday morning and I was visiting with a few families lingering out in the foyer. All of a sudden I smelled something from near the coffee bar area that causes me to turn around.
It was a familiar smell. Vomit.
I followed the smell…and trail…of vomit into the men’s bathroom where I found a Dad cleaning up his young daughter who had gotten sick. When he finished cleaning her up and turned around I saw that he was covered in his daughter’s vomit. He had a nice shirt on and had plans to go out to lunch right after the service with some other family members. Apparently he was holding his daughter when she got sick and she actually threw up into his face and all over his shirt and jeans. This dude was soaked.
As I began filling up the mop bucket with soap and water I handed him a roll of paper towels and asked, “Man, are you okay?” He looked at his daughter and smiled simply before answering me, “Yeah, I’m great.” He was still covered in vomit. He hadn’t even started to think about himself. His heart was full and sincere because he decided a long time before his daughter up-chucked her Goldfish all over him that he was going to love her no matter what.
Hopefully your spouse doesn’t vomit all over you today. But now you know what to do just in case.
No matter what happens today, your love for your spouse is a choice. Choose to love well today.