Have you ever had the feeling that instead of your words entering your listener’s ears, they were making a detour somewhere in outer space? Family conversations can be like that sometimes. In my house, when everyone gets excited, it’s common to hear several people talking loudly at once. I don’t know where we get it. It’s not that we are purposely trying to be rude. Still, sometimes when more than one person is trying to get their point across, it can be both deafening and entertaining.
Families are meant to be a blessing from God. I think that families provide our most precious opportunities to practice genuine love.
God is teaching me to allow His love to overflow into my family members’ lives by listening and actually being kind. I’m practicing talking to them using the same respectful, loving tone of voice that I try to use when I am talking to people outside of my home.
You know what’s difficult to do? Consistently not nagging, criticizing, complaining inwardly, and judging. Is it a challenge for you too? I’ll move over so you can get in the boat with me! LOL
One day, I put paper clips in one pocket. And every time I whined, complained in my mind, or felt like having a pity party, I took a clip out and transferred it to another pocket. After the third clip, I had a conscious attitude adjustment and began to choose to think more positively. Perhaps I ought to pull out the clips a little more often!
There’s nothing that can fill up a heart more quickly than nagging, criticizing, complaining and judging. That kind of rhetoric spoken to me usually makes me feel wounded or overwhelmed. It certainly doesn’t make me feel cooperative, loved, appreciated, or respected. If the speaker keeps going on and on and on, soon there’s no more room left inside my mind for all the negativity. The extra words take flight and begin to circle over my head like buzzards, before disappearing into the heavens.
Having said all of that, I have a confession to make.
I’ve been guilty of causing buzzards to circle.
My defense is that I was trying to get my point across because I cared. The glazed look on my listener’s face should have been warning enough. However, I misinterpreted their expression or their defense to mean that they didn’t get it. My point, that is. Have you ever been there, done that? Well… I hate to tell you this, but you and I have to…
They get it! They may or may not believe it, accept it, or agree to what we’ve said, but they heard us. I’m learning that fewer words, chosen with care and in love, can work wonders. This is important, since we can’t climb a step ladder, grab all those extra nagging, complaining, criticizing, finger-pointing words that are circling over our loved ones’ heads, and take them back.
I want to speak words of hope and faith to my spouse; share hope and faith with my children; speak words of kindness and life to those I meet. I can’t do that without the aid of the Holy Spirit and an open, loving heart.
I want God’s love to overflow into my relationships. Let me give you an example.
One way is for me to choose not to bring up a family member’s weakness in front of other family members and close friends. Boy, is that difficult!
I’m thinking specifically about how hard it is to resist talking about my husband’s sugar cravings in front of my parents and friends. He’ll bring it up and I’ll chime in, uninvited of course, to put my two cents, okay ten cents, uh fifty cents in. Alright, it’s difficult, VERY difficult, but not impossible… to keep my mouth closed. I just have to remember to think about his feelings. If he wants to mention his food antics, that’s one thing. I don’t have to join in and mention all the incidences he fails to mention. I am going to do better, yes I am!
I want Jesus’ love to shine brightly in my life. How?
According to 2 Corinthians, the fourth chapter, love is patient and kind. It does not envy, it does not boast. It does not behave rudely. It is not proud. It does not demand its own way. It is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. It always hopes. It encourages. It does not delight in sin, but rejoices with the truth. It does not hold grudges or even notice when it’s been wronged. It always protects, always trusts, it always perseveres. It forgives and forgives and forgives, showing mercy, compassion, and empathy.
How many of your family members would respond to a 2 Corinthians kind of love?
Let’s talk more about this next time.
Let your love overflow and enjoy the journey!
© 2009 God’s Perspective Publishing
This post has been updated and republished from the archives. I hope you won’t miss Part 3 of Love Overflow!