Relationships don’t thrive by chance. I know that media can often paint an untrue portrait, showing love, romance, and friendship being effortless, and always enjoyable, but in real life-that’s not the case.
Healthy, mutually enjoyable relationships generally require intentional interaction to endure the test of time.
The level of intentional effort required to keep things mutually enjoyable, is unique to each relationship-some require more, or different things, but all relationships benefit from intentional investments and interactions with one another.
In last week’s blog I talked about the importance of how we think about the people that matter to us. For me, it’s easy to think about negative things, especially if I’ve been hurt along the way. Sometimes I get selfish and think the other person should try harder for one reason or another, or there are even times I get ungrateful, and take things for granted. Last week I challenged myself, and those of you who follow my blog, to intentionally think of the things you admire about the people that are important in your life. I realize that in some circumstances, thinking of 3 admirable things may have been extremely difficult for you. While there may be others who are able to write a novel or two about those they love. The point isn’t who can write longer lists, or more detailed descriptions of admiration, the point of that challenge was to purposefully think of things, the way the Bible instructs us to think. When we focus on what is good, pure, lovely, and praiseworthy about the people in our lives (Philippians 4:8) we may be more willing to continue to try to win the hearts of those that matter the most to us.
This week I present a new letter of the alphabet
B-Is For Building Up
While reading my bible, in preparation for this message, I came across a few different verses that speak of building one another up. I searched through several different translations of the verses and I thought The Message translation really worded things in a way that made the verses easier for me to understand.
A spoken reprimand is better than approval that’s never expressed. Proverbs 27:5 MSG
I’m not one that enjoys criticism, regardless of how constructive it’s intended to be. I have found myself to be quite the people pleaser, so being reprimanded fans the flames of my insecurities. This verse really made me stop and think a bit. Would I rather be reprimanded and given the opportunity to make corrections, or would I rather be left to wonder if I’m enough? Would I rather know that I have things to work on, or would I rather feel wrongly unappreciated? If I’m being honest, there are many times that I am more vocal with reprimands, and my dissatisfaction than I am about my approval. I’ll tell my kids when I’m not happy with their efforts, I’ll tell my husband when he hasn’t met my expectations in a certain area, I’ll complain about my co-workers or extended family members, but there are many times I am not as quick to express my approval and appreciation. I often speak like I have the spiritual gift of discouragement, rather than speaking like a woman who’s attempting to be loving like Jesus. Boy, I sure have a lot of work to do! I need to be intentional with the way I think about the important people in my life, and I need to be intentional with the way I build them up, rather than correct or discourage them.
Another verse that stood out to me is this:
You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17 MSG
The bible says that we sharpen one another. We help strengthen each other when we build one another up. No one wants to go through life with dull, useless materials. How are we supposed to battle the hard things in life with weapons that have been tarnished and dulled by constant correction and discouragement? We need to make conscious efforts to build one another up, knowing that our praises and approval do matter to those we love. There are appropriate times for correction, but there is also a lot of benefit in balancing correction and praise.
Several months ago I was at a bridal shower, and a young woman, shared some incredible wisdom with the bride-to-be. One of the things she said was “become an expert on your husbands strengths, and not his weaknesses…” although I have been married quite a lot longer than the young woman giving the devotion that day, her words have stuck with me. I was sort of in awe of such a wise thought, coming from someone who hasn’t been married all that long. I really wished someone would have shared wisdom like that with me, before I entered into marriage. I feel like a lot of unnecessary bitterness could have been avoided, had I spent more time keeping track of all the ways my husband far exceeds anything I could have ever dreamed of, rather than keeping track of all of the times I felt he got things wrong.
What a thought…to be an expert on his strengths and not his weaknesses.
If we focus our thoughts on the things we admire about the important people in our lives, suddenly we start becoming more aware of their strengths and not their weaknesses. The more we study one another’s strengths, the more we can sharpen each other, and help one another pierce through the dull, or difficult times in life. If we are sharpening each other, we will be more prepared to battle this world TOGETHER, rather than spending time battling each other.
On the days my husband hasn’t met my expectations, or the times he doesn’t do things MY way, I need to remember that God created my husband different from me, and that is NOT by mistake. My husband fills in my gaps. He is strong in areas I was never meant to be, and I have my own sets of strengths that he never will. Our differences are meant to compliment one another, just like the gears of a clock. They aren’t meant to grind against each other and cause wreckage and malfunction, they are meant to fit together and accomplish a beautiful purpose in this life. Just because the way we approach things is often different (from the routes we take through town, to the way we load the dishwasher or fold the towels) doesn’t make MY way the right way. Our ways are different, but that’s ok. (YES, I JUST WROTE THAT DOWN.)
MY WAY IS NOT THE RIGHT WAY, SOMETIMES IT’S JUST MY PREFERENCE.
Ladies, please hear me… I’m typing this as gently as I can, your way is not the right way either. ( I know you probably don’t like that…it’s not my favorite lesson either.) Your way is the different way, your preferred way. Your way may even be a productive and effective way, but your way, is not the ULTIMATE RIGHT WAY.
When digging into this topic with my husband, I asked him “What’s something that women commonly do, that discourage their men, and make them not want to help, or put forth effort in their relationships?” You know what he said to me? “There are very few things that discourage the heart of a man, like constant correction, nitpicking him, or belittling him for doing things differently than you do. Also giving more grace, rather than saying ‘I told you so’ when mistakes are made, would help men want to try a little harder.”
So what if the kids’ clothes don’t match? Is it really that big of a deal if that particular hair bow, doesn’t go with that particular outfit?! What if he didn’t fix the kids’ hair at all?? Does that mean he doesn’t love them? Does that make him less of a dad? Why not just be grateful for the man HE is, and build him up for the areas he excels at? Maybe he doesn’t dress the kids the way you would. Maybe he doesn’t care to fix their hair (or tries really hard but it’s not as well kept as the way you do it) but he makes one amazing blanket fort, and tells better stories than you do… build him up. Remind him of his strengths, and not his weaknesses.
What about your kids? Do they not make their beds as neatly as you do when its left up to you? Are they not so great at getting the Christmas ornaments completely symmetrical when putting them on the tree? Do you cringe at the way they leave crumbs on the counter, or toothpaste in the sink? Maybe there are things that need gentle correction, but what can you do to build them up? What areas are they strong at? Are they a good friend? Are they compassionate? Do they work hard on certain things, even if they haven’t perfected their technique?
This week I am going to challenge myself to make a list of AT LEAST 3 of my husbands strengths, and then look for something to add to that list each day for the rest of the week. I want to spend my week being intentional in building him up, and reminding him of the amazing man that the Lord has called him to be, rather than snuffing out that fire set inside of him with my criticism, or unbelief. It is my goal to tell him each day a strength I see within him, in hopes I will sharpen his steel. If anyone makes my husband feel like he’s important, and valued, has integrity, and strengths, I want it to be me. I want him to feel like he can face anything, as long as I believe in him.
What about you?
Is there someone important to you, that could benefit from you building them up? Is there someone who needs you to examine, and remind them of their strengths more than their weaknesses? Is there someone you could thank, for being the steel that helps sharpen you? Maybe just telling another person how they have impacted your life in a positive way, will be what builds them up this week.
It is my prayer that this week we will be intentional with the way we speak to one another, and we will fix our eyes on the strengths of the people most important to us.
Remember, it’s better to be openly reprimanded than appreciated and never know it. Lets focus on building each other up.
In His Love,
- The Importance Of Being Intentional In Relationships-An ABC Series- B Is For Building Up - January 10, 2018
- The Importance Of Being Intentional In Relationships- An ABC Series- A Is For Admire - January 3, 2018
- Before and After - December 27, 2017
- Merry Christmas from Rosalynn - December 19, 2017
- Don’t hide Him - December 13, 2017