Marriage. It’s not always easy, y’all. It is a fine balancing act between two completely different people. I’ll give you an example. My husband isn’t a candle person. Like, at all. But every morning I light a candle and enjoy it’s glow against the budding dawn. He still doesn’t love candles, but he’s grown to understand that the sight and smell brings me a sense of peace, like several small things do for him. God often uses small things like a candle, or in my husband’s case a Saturday watching college football, to grow our hearts and build our fortitude for bigger things.
This is applicable not only in marriage, but in all relationships. Many people are taught in counseling about the importance of “compromise” to keep harmony in a relationship. Oftentimes this is true, my husband and I have agreed to compromise on several issues over the past 18 years. I don’t believe, however we should use only compromise–a term meaning one or both parties concedes something they value–for our relationship obstacles.
While looking at my lit candle this morning, God reminded me of a better way to work out differences in beliefs. I believe a lasting union is less about concession and more about laying down our pride while working to see and know another’s heart and motivation. In doing so we are ultimately saying, “Even though it differs from mine, I will honor your belief because this tells of my love for you.”
For a long time I’m sure my husband saw the candle and rolled his eyes. (Maybe he still does!) But over time he grew to understand the sentiment behind my candle. He didn’t ask me to compromise, rather he chose to lay his own agenda aside and see things from another’s perspective. His example causes me to search my own heart. At whom am I rolling my eyes instead of creating space to see know their heart and understand their beliefs?
While the example of a simple candle is minuscule in relation to the broader challenges in our relationships it’s a picture of how small acts of understanding are fundamental to more significant acts of understanding. It is a glowing reminder to examine our hearts, deny ourselves and let love and wisdom guide the difficult conversations.
I’m not sure about you, but my initial response to an alternative belief often stems from from a pride-filled desire to be right. We must recognize our natural bend is toward pride, defensiveness and self-righteouseness. When we acknowledge this fleshly, often embarrassing, truth about ourselves we can then beg God to remove these sinful attitudes from our hearts and minds. Such sins feed off one another, quickly stomping out any chance of unity.
With God’s help we can approach relationship challenges from a place of humility, faith and love. We can pause, listen to understand, and deny pride and arrogance a foothold in the conversation. My husband chose to open his mind and heart to a belief different than his own; this small act of understanding blesses me and increases our unity.
Where in our lives can we do the same, especially where another’s belief helps them on their journey to peace, holiness and wholeness? In every relationship we can practice love and understanding which guides us into deeper, purer, more enduring relationships. Using wisdom and the Holy Spirit as a compass, two or more can live more harmoniously no matter the differences in beliefs. When we choose to “put on love and become a people of perfect unity” we are choosing to live as Christ and be Christ to others.