Well, we did it. We made it to the end of a 10-day series on simplifying our lives. I’m so thankful you have joined me, and I hope the Lord has made it a fruitful time for you.
As I prayed about which 10 tips to share, the Lord kept bringing me back to today’s. Which on the surface doesn’t seem like it would fit in with the rest of my practical topics. But when I think about what has complicated my life, and the lives of so many friends, relationships are at the top of the list.
Relationships are the joy of life! And yet they are messy, confusing and frustrating at times. That’s because we are messy, confusing and frustrating on our own – and put two of us together and BOOM! Things can go every which way except the way we wanted.
How many times have you said something, in a well-meaning way, only to have the other person react completely differently than you expected?
Gulp … too many times for me to count!
For some reason, not everyone wants to hear my advice about how to live their lives!!??
Sometimes (more often than not) my advice is not needed. Even though I may think I know what a friend or family member should do, sometimes the best thing to do is nothing. Especially when that advice is not welcome, or it comes in a nagging way.
There is a time to speak truth. There is a time to act. And there is a time to love unconditionally and let the Holy Spirit do His job. And that’s my final tip in the series:
I learned this life-changing lesson when my middle son moved out of the house to go to college. It was just across town, so he came home many weekends. But he came home tired. Turns out it wasn’t from studying. Rather, he was enjoying his new-found freedom at bit more than I liked.
So I got frustrated, and let him know it in all kinds of ways, that his behavior was unacceptable. Some of my methods were direct, some passive-aggressive. Lots of guilt-throwing. This wasn’t how I raised him!
One day, he said sharply, “Mom, when you act like this, I don’t even want to come home.”
Ever have one of those moments when everything changes? A light turns on. A veil is lifted. Clarity sharpened. That was it for me. I didn’t want to chase him away. I wanted him to want to come home.
As I poured my heart out to the Lord, He spoke very clearly to me: “Let me be your son’s Holy Spirit, and you just love him.”
It was suddenly obvious. If I wanted my son to want to do the right thing, I couldn’t hammer him over the head with my faith (and the faith he professed as a child) and hope the guilt motivated him. I couldn’t be his conscience. The only thing I could do was make following Jesus so appealing, that he would be drawn to it, not repelled.
When I pulled all the advice and lectures out of our relationship, and just loved him unconditionally, it simplified everything. Rather than feeling responsible to point out his faults or mistakes so he could correct them, I was free to celebrate the good in him.
He didn’t immediately change. But our relationship did. He talked to me more when he realized every conversation wasn’t going to end up in the same place.
And me, I had to learn to control my face, my tone, my words, and eventually it got easier to just love him and not worry about his behavior. After all, he’s an imperfect human just like me.
We are six years past that time, and my son and I have an incredible relationship. He’s in church, dating a precious girl who loves Jesus, they are in a small group, he’s reading his Bible and trying to figure out his faith on his own. Is he perfect yet? Haha! No, and neither am I.
I wish I could say I always get this right. I guess the bossy gene in me is pretty strong. But the Lord is faithful to remind me that He’s still doing His job, and it’s not my job.
Now, I knew before I wrote this post, there would be exceptions to it. And for every parent with younger children, you are in a different phase of your relationship. It’s your job to train them. And there is a time to speak the truth in love to other adults and a time to make hard choices to protect yourself or not enable harmful behavior. I know there are many unique situations.
But sometimes, we are called to just love and let God work. Isn’t God’s love the most compelling thing about Him?
When Jesus was asked about the most important commandment, He replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.‘”
I’m fascinated that Jesus tied these two commandments together. Love God and love others. It really does make things simple when we do what He asked.
Thank you so much for joining me for these 10 days. You have blessed me with the gift of your time and love. If you just signed up for this series, I hope you’ll stay on as a blog reader. You are most welcome here.
May the Lord bless you!