Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Life Seasonings - Principle 3 of 10

Principle 3: Have Peace (Will it matter in a thousand years?)

A non-Christian couple, plagued with a troubled marriage, came to see me recently in the office. Out of sheer desperation, they had even resorted to paging through the Yellow Pages seeking for the services of psychologists. They consulted one picked from the list and were disappointed with the first session. A DUMC ex-colleague of the wife suggested that they seek the help of the church and hence both ended up in front of me in the counselling room. It was written all over their faces the absence of peace. Frowns on their faces seem like permanent features. I spent the next one hour dissecting their problems and the pleasant conclusion to both of them at the end of that time was that they realized the sum of their individual problems seen insurmountable in the beginning. By taking the problems individually, they were able to see that there was no justifiable issue to consider a separation. A smile broke out at the end of the session and you can literally see peace returning to their faces.

What are the roots of their problem? Firstly, it is in trying hard to change the other person and secondly, the inability to adapt to each other. Often, we try too hard to change people to suit us. And if wisdom prevails, we would have recognized that we can’t change someone unless he is WILLING to change! No amount of nagging, cajoling and threat can change a person. Yet we often get upset and frustrated when we can’t. For example, when an inconsiderate driver rudely cuts into your lane, your natural reaction would be to get upset at the inappropriate violation of your space and pretty soon some not so nice thoughts begin to form in your head. If only you could teach him a lesson or change the way he drives! In Life Skills training, we call this “catching someone else’s monkey”. There are times we need to accept the fact that we can’t really change a person.

So in a marriage, for example, I have often said to young potential marriage partners that they should not go into their marriage with the aim of hoping to change each other to be like them. They will get very disappointed if they try. Funnily, most couples are attracted to each other simply because they are different and yet it is these very differences that threaten to split them apart later in their marriage. I am marrying you because of what you can bring into my life of which I am in lack. The truth is that they need to adapt to each other’s differences. Adaptability therefore negates the need for absolute compatibility. Rather than asking who is the one most compatible to me (which is very self-centered), I seek for someone I can adapt to (which is very other-centered). This is a great formula for successful marriages and therefore peace in relationship. Young people often go into marriages with half opened eyes, in a dreamy state, saying their vows with their fingers crossed and hoping for the best. Then immediately their eyes are wide opened as they live with one another exclaiming “This is not the man (or woman) I married!” In DUMC, we try to reverse the trend. Say your vow with wide open eyes so that you really mean what you say and say what you mean. After that, half close your eyes and overlook each other idiosyncrasies and start adapting to one another.

Often we fight over the most trivial of things. It is usually never over the ‘big’ things that get us into trouble with one another, but the small things, accumulated over time that when summed up together becomes insurmountable. The lack of peace is a reflection of the heart, of always wanting to have things our way and the inability to adapt to circumstances or people, whether consciously or not. A mark of pride hangs over our neck for others to conform to us rather than God.

Our Lord is the Prince of Peace. He said in John 14:27 (NIV) Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. That means we need to realize He is in PERFECT control of everything, even with the person who is annoying you or the situation that discourages you.

Whenever my wife and I fight (we are still works-in-progress!) we remind ourselves, “Will it matter in a thousand years?” Often it will not matter and the issue is laid to rest as we learn to adapt to one another. HAVE PEACE!

No comments:

Post a Comment