Before I Judge Another Couple…

I felt like I was pretty harsh about what I had said about the man: “After his wife is gone he is sad, but I wish he could have expressed love to her when she was alive.” I just repeated what I had heard from an elder person in\n my family. Immediately after I said that I saw a puzzled look on my colleague’s face. I realized that she did not expect such a comment from me. Besides it was too unkind to say that when someone is grieving over the loss of a loved one.


More I thought about it the more I felt ugly inside and had to repent and ask God to help me to show mercy to others. As I re-evaluated my words the next day, I realized that I do not always express my love to my spouse or another family member as they desire or God expects. We may not be an alcoholic or have extra-marital affairs but we also neglect and ignore our loved ones in more culturally accepted ways like silencing the weaker ones, controlling decisions, or being a workaholic. Besides roles in any relationship demand certain level of unconditional love to the people whom we care for. Be it between parents and children, husband and wife, wife and husband, adult children and parents, shepherd and sheep, or teachers and students. I am sure we have failed in many of these roles to express unconditional love.

We can be more kind to others when we realize that we are also sinners in need of favor from a merciful God rather than entertaining the thought that only others are “sinners in the hands of an angry God.” When we cannot see our need for mercy and repentance, we become too quick to judge other couples about the speck of dust in their families and ignore the log in our family.

Before we try to fix our neighbor’s family life, let us take a quick evaluation to see whether our spouse and children or other dependents feel loved in our homes. We may be good in loving them according to our standards by providing food, clothes and shelter. But do they feel loved? That is the question all of us need to ask. Others feel loved only when we express love in the way they feel loved or as Gary Chapman says when we speak others’ love language. He says that children by the age of four have developed their primary love language which can be words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, or physical touch. In his book, he explains how God Speaks Your Love Language using the five languages. I pray this truth will motivate us to learn how to speak love languages so that those who care for will feel loved. The following link describes the different love languages: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1cOTS8yEncYG91bZBVJACbqllyOTnmcoC/view?usp=drivesdk
Let me close with a word of wisdom, let us be immersed in the love of God in Christ so that loving others will be naturally supernatural.

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Obeying God

How seriously do we entrust our values to the next generation? How do they perceive the significance we give to these values? What do we do or say to differentiate between eternal and trivial? Jer 35:1-16

Lord, as the first lesson to obey Your word is something that we learn and teach at our homes, let our young ones our community see the price we pay to obey You.  images (4)

Lord, let us order our lives in such a way that our young ones in our homes and churches can see how we are committed to obey You even when it hurts and in turn will be attracted to obey You and love You.

Who is Right?

Have you ever been in a situation where you can feel the tension rising in the air when one is trying to prove that he/she has the right opinion or view? Even when no one is trying to prove anything the monologue continues with great zeal. Usually the more mature ones opt to nod their heads approving of the other. They know that there is at least some truth on their side but are still willing to let go. The other settles down knowing that he/she is always right. The insecurity masked under the zeal is clear but never addressed.

If our children behave like that then you know they are going to grow out of that. Or if the person is a stranger or someone you see occasionally, then you can afford to ignore it and be kind.  But what if you have to face it from the close family member or a co-worker who is 40+?  This can be quite an exhausting and choking experience after some time.

Yet whether in family or work we are called to be different. Paul exhorts us “And may God, the source of patience and encouragement, enable you to have the same point of view among yourselves by following the example of Christ Jesus” (Rom 15:5, GNB). As I read this, I felt like God is inviting me to be more than what I can be. Then I was reminded of the times when God stood by my side showing His patience and encouragement proving that my fear and others’ judgment were false.

I have missed the mark many times, but His patience made me cross the Red Sea, scale high mountains, and walk on the water.  When I thought sitting in the right and left of His throne was the best place for me, He nudged me to see the bigger picture of being with Him. He showed me that being humble, gracious, and forgiving is better than being ambitious, judgmental, and arrogant. He continues to show me higher planes telling me there is more to grasp to be where He dreams me to be for which  He persistently invests in me His patience and encouragement.

And next time when someone is trying to prove that they are right it is better to guard your heart rather than destroying the relationships while trying to prove that you are right. So bite your tongue, take a deep breath and fall into the bosom of God who is the source of patience and encouragement.

Allow all your insecurities to melt away. May we become cheerleaders as we watch God taking people to the place of security in Him which we treasure.

This is quite a journey, journey of dying to self. God is always right, He is not done with us as He shepherds us in the journey.

Photo Courtesy: www.123rf.com

 

Posted on Sep  15, 2015

When I Feel I’m Better than my Spouse

All of us have come across someone who feels that he/she is better than anyone. Will one shed that feeling because they enter into marriage? Rather in the early days and months of marriage, couples are busy with many things that their individual differences are not brought to surface. In these early days, couples tend to communicate effortlessly at length. Their energy is spent on pleasing each other and to surprise each other. Individual differences are minimized and partners are very accepting. They are “purely” in love and this love is blind. Even if they “see” the shortcomings they are more than happy to bear it. Thus couples tend to overlook any shortcomings of each other. This is the romantic stage. A time to cherish!

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Soon this stage began to wean off, couples began to notice their individual differences. They find themselves in disillusionment regarding these differences. Some feel that they are better than the other with regards to job, salary, parenting, organizing, or communication. Some resort to blame their spouse, find excuse and others actively search for ideas and strategies to handle these differences. As couples work at each one of these, they become successful in certain areas but can get discouraged in other areas especially where personality and temperament meddles. In reality, certain habits and situations continue to remain which cause one to behave in a certain way. Thus the other partner sees it as something that need to be improved. This can cause disagreements and even conflicts. Not only the relationship between couples suffer but also children suffer. This can cause disturbances in other areas of life like work, church, relationship with family members.
However when unresolved issues make one to feel superior to one’s spouse, disequilibrium happens in marriage. Oneness in marriage is under threat which can be problematic. The one feeling superior become conceited and the weakness of the other is often highlighted. Disrespectful words and behaviours find their origin from feeling and thinking superior which can not only tear apart marriage but also lives. When the other spouse begins to retaliate, it can further pull them apart.
The Bible commands us to value others above us in humility and to be considerate of other’s interests. Besides one of the functions of the Holy Spirit is to help us in our weakness. When applied in the context of marriage, another aspect is also involved. The dream of God for marriage is for the two people to develop oneness which supersedes all other human relationships. Thus harboring superiority complex in any relationship is against the will of God much more in marriage.
What can one do here for not to allow superiority complex to destroy the intended oneness? How can oneness be preserved with care and caution?

  • There need to be a change the behaviour and values. One without the other can be ineffective. So work with the perspectival change and behavioural change in order to overwrite superiority complex with acceptance of your spouse.
  • Put your effort on learning to encourage and support your spouse. Also value and compliment contributions of your spouse.
  • Remind yourself of your love for your spouse and carefully take small steps for your love to grow.
  • Reflect to see whether there is insecurity in you as superiority may arise from your insecurity.
  • Specify policies to define boundaries in relationship. Never put down each other before others, never use foul words or name calling, never inflict physical injury, never compare each other with others, always respect each other
  • Pray regularly for your marriage and for each other that you would grow in oneness in your relationship

Photo Courtesy: http://www.erepublik.com/

Posted on Feb 23, 2015

A Gift and A Shift

My husband and I along our infant son met my maternal great uncle for the first and last time in my life in 1995. He arranged the stay for us at the hotel where he was briefly staying in Naples, FL. I told him about my memory of his parents and his home on the opposite shore of the river near my grandparent’s house. He too shared some old memories. The most memorable incident of this visit is the gift he gave a One-Year Bible. It was evident that it was not a gift for the sake of a gift but intentional and deliberate. His expectation of me to finish reading the Bible in a year was clear to me along with the importance he gave for daily family prayer.

I am proud to have such family members who instill eternal values in their kith

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and kin. The Bible became part of our family prayer. I found another One-Year Bible in my husband’s library which became the Bible I began to read for my daily meditation. Since 1996, I read the same Bible with the desire of reading the whole Bible in a year and to hear God’s voice.

Do I accomplish the goal every year? Of course not! I have missed assigned reading portions for each day many times over the years. I may not be able to read the Bible every day. But what is important to me is the opportunity to have a broader perspective of the Bible rather than reading my favorite portions and passages year after year. Besides, every first day of the New Year gives me a fresh start as I open my Bible to Genesis Chapter1, Matthew Chapter 1, and Psalm 1. This gives me a new expectation for the year and a delight to start not only the whole year in mind but also the whole Bible in mind.

I am glad that my great uncle’s envisioning has become part of my daily routine. It took me to another level of my Bible reading habit which has never wore me down. Rather to me it is an opportunity to affirm my habit of beginning my day with a fresh look at the Word along with a big goal of reading the whole Bible.

I have blogged about the importance of making Bible reading a daily habit in one of my previous blogs: A Habit Worth Investing Your Time. Yet this blog intends to take you to a next level of Bible reading: to develop a desire and a habit of reading the whole Bible every year. However it is not intended to develop guilt when you miss a day but to return to the Bible each day with a longing to hear from God.

Why wait to have a bigger vision of Bible reading habit not only for you but also for your acquaintances? One-Year Bible is available online or there are many one year reading plans on the Web. For eg., Biblica has given the reading plan titled: Bible in a Year: 365-Day Reading Plan It is not about the reading plan but about valuing and reading the entire Bible in a year.

Besides, I learn other lessons as I reminiscence the visit. What kind of influence do I intend to have on others and on my family members? If I see a person only for one time, what do I want them to remember me for or what will they remember me for?

Photo courtesy: Wikihow.com

10 Life Lessons on Being a Homeowner

One morning as I woke up, a thought welcomed me, “what have I learned on being a homeowner?” Besides my parents’ home and my husband’s parents’, I have lived in 4 rented homes and two homes which I called our own. All homes varied in sizes from two rooms to many rooms. I have stayed in the homes of family and friends as well.
I offer the top ten lessons to you as a source of inspiration to search and see what you have learned. This does not mean I have learned everything and finished learning. I hope to be still learning. But for right now, these are what I have. For this one I searched my heart to see which ten I would include. For right now, enjoy reading and pass it on to others.

  1. It is not the designing or decorations that make the house beautiful but the people who invest their lives in each other through love, trust, and honesty.
  2. Do not worry about how spectacular our house is as we invite friends and family, may our hearts reach out to them in sincerity and serenity.
  3. It is not in the rich cuisine you serve that your friends are satisfied but the warmth they feel in their spirits.
  4. Our home can become a home for others only if we are thoughtful.
  5. Love all our neighbours but draw clear boundaries.
  6. As we open our home for others, never allow our own to always feel ignored.
  7. The chinaware or the expensive dishes are not just for special guests but also for us to enjoy with kith and kin.
  8. If bricks and wood were to testify let them echo stories of forgiveness more than strife.
  9. There is nothing called the dream house. Every house big or small will eventually be our dream home as lives are weaved together through times of joy and tears.
  10. Never get our hearts fixed on any home; see it just as a temporary shelter as we will move on to our eternal home sooner or later.

Please share lessons you have learned in the comments.

Posted on Nov 20, 2014

Perspectives…Empty Nesters

 

This year is a significant year in our life as husband and wife. We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. We are still dreaming for many more years together. Another important event was our daughter leaving home for college which created an empty nest for us.

So often people ask “how is life now?” “Are you sad as no children are home?” “Do you miss them?” “Do you cry?” Yes we miss them. Life is different without kids. But often I have mixed emotions. Sad at the same time happy! Sad that they are not home. But happy that they are where God wants them to be and they can manage their lives without the constant supervision of parents. I know they will come back home but still they are adult children steering their own lives with little direction from us compared to their childhood.

This is the dream of any parent. Children trailing their way to move forward in the path they see as theirs.  Moving from dependence on parents to interdependence is indeed an adventurous task for any young adult. It becomes a risky phase if the child was not prepared for this transition.

For parents too it can be a difficult task if they are not preparing themselves for this phase in life. Even though the sense of loss is normal, some parents feel a great sense of loss when the last child leaves home to the extent that it affects the sense of purpose and life.  For others it is a constant feeling of regret.  (Here I am not taking about elderly parents but middle aged parents. Of course the aged need constant support and care of children.)

How can middle aged parents live without losing their sense of direction and purpose when children leave home? It has to do with certain perspectives of marriage, parenthood, and life. The perspective of marriage is that husband and wife do not live for children or anything else or anybody else but for each other. In the bond as husband and wife, next to their relationship with God comes their relationship with each other. They become best friends and companions as they invest their time and resources to grow in these terms.  So when children leave home their friendship still grows.

Second is the perspective of parenthood. Parents need to see themselves as stewards of children not owners.  They have been entrusted in our care to their wholesome development. In this process we want to give them space, resources and freedom to grow into the design set by the creator God. Here, dreams of children and their parents about their lives are only secondary to that of their creator.

Third is the perspective of life. Of course parenting is a fulfilling experience. But there are also other meaningful experiences in life which can bring joy to us and to many in our community. This may not be a full time 9 to 5 job, yet being available to others in their time of need.  Here the involvement not at all suggests ignoring your family but using the time, energy, talent and resources appropriately to enrich others. Today people generally do this through employment which also produces a monetary reward. Yet the focus here is not money but leading a fulfilling life to bring smile to others who may not be our kin or kith. Then life presents a bigger role than being parents and couples.

When does the preparation for this phase begin? Is it after kids are born? Or after they become teenagers? I think the preparation begin from the day of marriage. On that day begins the commitment to be best friends, enriching children’s lives to fit into the design of their creator, and to encourage each other to have an other- focused life. Thus even after children leave home, there is still opportunity to enrich each other, children, and many others as well.

Young couples begin the process now and empty nesters there is more to it than being empty.

posted July 24, 2014