I recently heard a question that unnerved me and disrupted my narrow-minded, cloudy, numb-to-reality view of myself.
The guest speaker (I'm not certain who, but it was broadcasted on Focus on the Family) posed this question, that is intended to be self-directed:
What is it like to be married to me?
Uhh.... can I take a few minutes to think about this one? Maybe I should actually get back to you in a week or so, then I will be able to rate myself on my more recent, adjusted performance in this area!
It's very easy to think about the stuff we do, and rate ourselves based on what WE think is good in terms of our relationships with others.
It is a sobering thought to judge ourselves in a way that considers how our actions are perceived by those around us, rather than simply judging ourselves based on our own opinions. How does my husband actually feel about how I treat him? Additionally, how do my children, family and friends feel about how I treat them? By asking myself these questions, I am seeking to view things from a perspective outside my own little bubble.
Have you ever heard of "love languages"? This is a term coined by the author Dr. Gary Chapman in his book "The Five Love Languages". Designed to assist a married couple in determining the best way to make their spouse feel loved, and to understand the specific actions that make oneself feel loved, this book is a great resource for enhancing relationships. Essentially, people respond to different behaviors and certain actions: touch, words, kind deeds, gifts and quality time will affect you to varying degrees. One woman may adore receiving roses and chocolate, while another feels loved when her husband simply sits down and spends quality time with her. The key is to understand what makes you and your spouse feel loved, so you can "speak" their language and avoid unnecessary frustration.
It's very easy to do what comes naturally. This may seem like a ridiculous statement, but I have to wonder how often my actions are based on what feels "normal" to me, and not based out of consideration for others.
I don't want to go through life self-centered. This isn't to say that we need to be constantly worried about how we appear to others, and to have a fear of what others think of us. This is more about doing our best to show love and care. When you consider the effect that your words and actions have on those around you, when you try to see things through another person's eyes - you are then showing true, unselfish love. This is a generous love that will give without expecting something in return. This is the kind of love that is sacrificial and whole-hearted.
Just some brutal honesty here... but I really want to love like that. I might not be very good at it now, but I want to change. I will probably continue to make a lot of mistakes in this journey, but I'm praying earnestly that this area of my life will transform, and that those close to me will feel more loved.