This time. This time, I did it right…and it feels great! Who knew?! Who knew that listening, really listening, to the wisdom in one little verse inside of 1 Corinthians 13 could completely obliterate the resentment, frustration, and irritation that I felt every single time I thought about a situation that had become a stalemate with one of my dearest friends? Probably anybody who is a better Christian than I am already knew it, but, for me, having it settle deep inside of my soul and then choosing to act upon it rather than continue to cling to those unwanted companions who were poisoning me, was a huge spiritual victory.
1 Corinthians 13:5 says: …It (love) does not insist upon its own way; it is not irritable or resentful.
This situation with my friend was tearing me apart and threatening to ruin our friendship. I was stubbornly clinging to the notion that I was right. Nothing short of full capitulation from her was going to make me happy, because, darnit, I was standing on principle. I simply could not understand how she didn’t see it the same way. Truth be told, I still don’t…but it no longer matters, because while I was insisting upon my own way, I wasn’t loving her. While I wasn’t loving her, our friendship was being poisoned. While our friendship was being poisoned, it was draining me emotionally. The cost of clinging to “right” was steep.
As I kept mulling the situation over and how to deal with it, that verse in 1 Corinthians is what I kept coming back to. It was sooooo frustrating, because it wasn’t the vindication that I really wanted. I could keep ignoring that not-so-gentle prodding in my spirit, or I could surrender to it. Surrendering felt so much like failure, before I did it. I wish I could say I followed through on that not-so-gentle prodding with grace and enthusiasm. No one who actually knows me would ever believe that, though. I did it, but I did it bitching and moaning about how unfair it was…and when it was done, when I’d told my friend that I loved her and that I was through trying to seek my own way, I felt…relief. Empowered. Free.
That had me wondering what would happen if, as much as possible for this completely imperfect human being, I just stopped insisting upon my own way.
My husband has just done, for the millionth time, something that he knows drives me absolutely nuts? Oh well. I’m just going to stop insisting that he’d do it my way if he loved me because, clearly, he’s never going to do it my way.
My teenage son is sleeping in and get a slllloooooow start to his day, despite having a couple of big projects that need to be completed on his plate? Oh well. He’ll get them done or he won’t, and he’ll be the one to suffer the natural consequences if he doesn’t. I’m just going to stop insisting that he do it my way and get an early start because, clearly, my advice is falling on deaf ears.
My teenage daughter doesn’t feel like doing the math she said she wanted to work on this year? No problem. I’m just going to stop insisting that she do it the way I’d do it if I had been the one saying it was important to me because, clearly, what I’d do in her shoes and what she’s doing are two completely different things.
I’m a slow learner, one who typically seems to have to learn things the hard way. I’ve done situations like the one with my friend the hard way before. I have insisted upon my way or the highway, and felt justified in doing so. I’ve finally figured out that there’s no peace there when it’s just stubborn pride doing the insisting, though. What I am hoping is that, as I travel this journey of self-directed learning alongside my children, they will realize that just like we never stop learning new information and skills, we also never stop growing as people, maturing spiritually, and being better human beings today than we were yesterday.