Have you ever given your loved one a gift that they interpreted completely the wrong way? Unfortunately, I have suffered through a couple of those blunders.
I still swear that I had the right intentions… Recently, I handled a similar situation rather well. At least, I think I did.
What do you think?
My wife and I were at a conference together when an author and her husband asked me why I didn't give my wife a copy of the wonderful book the author had written. It really is a great resource, but to help this couple understand my reasoning, I shared with them the following possible scenario:
“Hello dear, how was your day? Hey, Focus on the Family just produced this great resource for moms and I thought it might encourage you.”
I hand her the book… Be the Mom by Tracey Eyster.
She stares at the title for a moment and then she looks at me. I get “the look.” Uh, oh—I am in big trouble.
“What… you don’t think I am a good mom?! I am not a good wife?!”
“Well, of course you are a great mom and wife! I just…”
You can probably picture the scene. At this point, I am doing everything I can to salvage my relationship and keep from sleeping on the couch.
Have you ever had this happen to you?
There is a very simple concept that my wife and I learned early on. We discovered this concept when a counselor helped us work through several important issues in our marriage. It is this: extend grace.
Simply put, this truth states that, “We are both broken people in a committed and loving relationship.” Extending grace is an extension of our wedding vows: “For better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health....” Grace is the thread that holds relationships together.
What does grace look like in your marriage, with your kids, in your relationships? Would you be considered a modern-day version of the unmerciful servant?
The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant, found in Matthew 18:21-35, captures the very essence of grace. Is our response like that of the King?
The servant fell on his knees before [the King]. “Be patient with me,” he begged, “and I will pay back everything.” The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
…or of the unmerciful servant himself?
His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, “Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.” But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.
Karen and I are still learning about grace, because each new day presents its shares of challenges. I know, in all my humanness, that I present challenges each and every day. When it comes to loving my wife well, loving my kids well, I sometimes miss the mark. I’ll confess that I don’t always listen well or plan well. I speak words that miss the mark. I sometimes fall short in my ability to keep a promise or follow through. These are my handicaps.
But this is where grace enters: “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. "For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10)
“Boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses....” I sometimes wish my “handicaps” would just go away, or I could work harder and longer and be that perfect husband and dad. I am realizing that it won’t happen this side of glory. Grace doesn't mean I can simply make excuses – “This is just the way I am….” Grace does mean that I allow the Lord to “love me where I am, yet shaping and changing my heart to look more like Him.”
Footnote: Be the Mom is a great read for moms. Karen has read the book from cover to cover and has told me, "Every mom should read it." I just think it should come with a warning label for dads.
Written by Roy Baldwin