Five Steps

In some ways, this whole COVID mess has separated us from
one another. In other settings, it has brought us closer together;
and, by closer together I mean in proximity, not necessarily
relationally. Some of you have been thrown together inside the
house with your spouse, your child, your in-law, in a way you never
have been before. In some cases, you’ve enjoyed that newfound closeness. You’ve been able to have conversations that have caused your relationship to grow and flourish. In other cases, the nearness has not been positive. Perhaps, you’ve gotten on each other’s nerves, and you don’t know what to do about it.

As I was going through some old files recently, I ran across an
article by Jill Savage. She shares a few steps that can help us
move toward healthier relationships in our lives. We can all use a
bit of help on how to relate to others in a more loving and Christian

One of the things I remember about being at my grandpa’s
house (we called him Papa George) was a magnifying glass that
he kept on the table beside his chair. He used it later in life to be
able to see things in the newspaper, or to read stuff that had
come in the mail.

When you look at something under magnification it looks
bigger than it really is. The magnified image is no longer reflective
of real life because you’re seeing one thing larger than the other
things around it. Magnifying something can give an exaggerated
sense of how significant something really is.

The people we live with are imperfect human beings. They
have faults. They make mistakes. They let us down on occasion.
In these days of increased closeness, it can become easy to look
at others’ faults through a magnifying glass. I’ll even venture to
say that someone – the god of this world – the enemy who wants
to steal, divide, and destroy – helps to position the magnifying lens
on the actions or attitudes that cause us the most hurt,
disappointment, or rejection. (John 10:10 and I Peter 5:8)
Without realizing it, we move from believing the best about our
spouse, our child, our relative, or our friend to believing the worst about them. With their faults maximized and their strengths minimized, we slowly close off our heart to them. Before we know it, a relational wall has been erected by our skewed perspective and unrealistic expectations (for example, that they won’t make mistakes, that they should have made a different decision, etc.).

That relational wall begins a process of separation in our heart and
mind. It divides our loyalties and moves us away from the relationship
rather than towards the relationship that means so much to us.
It’s usually not the big things that kill relationships. It’s often the little
things that accumulate over time. Looking at faults through a
magnifying glass is a little thing that can do damage over the long haul
unless we do something about it.

Here are five ways to begin seeing others in a more balanced way:
1) Move the magnifying glass. Move your focus from what they do
wrong to what they do right. If you’re finding yourself critical of, or
angry, or disgusted, with your spouse, you’ve likely had tunnel vision on their imperfections. Sit down and make a list of their strengths and what they contribute positively to the relationship.

2) Stay focused on what you love. If you focus on what bothers you, all you will see are the things that tick you off. Keep your eyes on what you love so you fill your heart with love.

3) Believe the best about your loved one. Resist the urge to make
their mistake a personal offense towards you. Beware of statements you might make to yourself like, “If he really loved me he wouldn’t have done that,” or “She did that just to tick me off.” These kinds of
statements are fertilizer to negative emotions.

4) Get perspective. Are you making a mountain out of a molehill?
In the big scheme of things, is this really a big deal? When you measure this imperfection, mistake, or disappointment against all the good things about the person, you may begin to see that this situation doesn’t need to define your whole relationship. You need spiritual perspective as well. Remind yourself who the real enemy is (Satan), and what his agenda is (to divide and destroy). Don’t let yourself get sucked into his distraction and deception.

5) Learn to move forward. Sometimes we need to give grace,
forgive, and let it go. Sometimes we need to have a conversation with
the person, but only after our emotions have calmed down. And
sometimes we need to realize that our own pride or insecurity is the
bigger issue here, and it’s helpful to move the magnifying glass from our loved one to ourselves for a few convicting minutes. But don’t let it sit there for too long, or you’ll move from conviction to condemnation of yourself in no time.

That old magnifying glass of Papa George’s had its place in this
world. It helped him see things more clearly at times. Magnifying
glasses in relationships can do the same. It all depends on what you’re
looking at.

What about you? Do you need to reposition your magnifying glass
toward more positive areas?

Grace and peace
Pastor Ross
Last Published: August 5, 2020 10:01 AM
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