I think we have all been there. Those days when you just don’t like your spouse… at all. It is easy to head down that road and I have been there many times before, but I have learned a few key things through our marriage to help steer myself out of that place.
Early in our marriage, which also happened to be early in our tragedy, it was really hard to like Scotty sometimes. He was blind as of 2 months, depressed and in a very dark place. I knew I needed to be his #1 cheerleader, but truth be told, I was pretty hard to like during that time too. Cheerleading and any grace I had faded quickly, after all, I was new to married life and tragedy alike. I was struggling to keep up the emotional strength needed for our new existence. I remember walking with him in those first couple weeks and saying out loud, “I will always love you, but I do not like you at all right now.” Although we survived those first few years, I started to notice a pattern, my unhappiness or whatever I was feeling, would usually be projected onto Scotty in the form of criticism, without even realizing it.
I was making a habit of pointing out everything he did that bothered me, it was not until recently that I realized that my criticism was not really about Scotty, but more about ME.
There, I admitted it!
Life is hard and sometimes we say and do things unconsciously, without even realizing where it is coming from. One thing that our journey has taught me is the importance of reflection. We have to stop and find time to reflect, pray, seek and listen. This is far more vital than “keeping up” and running the rat race. As I reflected, I saw that when I become hypercritical, of not only Scotty, but also of others, that it was often a reflection of the negativity in my own heart and mind, and y’all, it is not good!
No it’s not Scotty who is making me unhappy, no it’s not my kids, or the person who cut me off, or the rude waiter, it is me. None of us are perfect, and yes our spouses have flaws, but let’s not forget that we have them too. Grace is for everyone, ourselves included. Lately I have learned to pay attention to those thoughts and watch the direction of my mind. It is so easy to play the blame game, but why is that always our first stop?
Instead, what if we began to take ownership of our thoughts, negativity and criticism? What might happen? How much better would our marriages be? Or our relationships with our kids and friends? God calls us to be better each day, he calls us to have love, joy, peace, patience and understanding with others. He does not call us to be critical, but to love them completely. When we find grace for others, we find grace for ourselves.
I don’t know if I’ll ever master this completely in this lifetime. But the first step is acknowledgement right?!
Recognize the moment your mind is going down that path and do your best to correct it. I have learned that I cannot control others, the only thing I am in control of truly, is myself. I can control my thoughts and my criticisms and I can control what I let affect me. Let’s choose to see the good in others, let’s speak the truth in love and be kind, even when it’s undeserved or difficult. Let’s be a source of joy for those around us. A funny thing happens when we do this, we end up finding a whole fountain of joy for ourselves too!