I have learned the things that make me the most contented. Little things like compliments and affirmations of a job well done make my day and inspire me to do even better. Because I am sensitive to this about myself, I find I notice other people’s positive assets and try to affirm them as well. This gives me joy and nurtures me in return. Strange, isn’t it?
My husband has a different set of needs. He likes people to do things for him, like cut the crusts off his bread. My natural opinion of that is to say, “You’re lucky I made the toast for you in the first place. Cut the crust off yourself!” Fortunately, I have learned that he is much nicer and easier to get along with when the crusts are gone from his bread. In his mind, I love him by doing small tasks for him. If I compliment him (as I need) he looks at me as if it’s a given, “yes, and….” He doesn’t get it.
I must be careful of the things I do for him as he is in a wheelchair and must remain active or he will lose his abilities to be functional. My balance is to do for him the things he can’t do himself, and insist he does the things he can do. Oh, and throw in a few extras, like cutting the crusts off his bread. There have been several conflicts over this, but he doesn’t like it when life passes him by, but that is what will happen when a person refuses to be assertive. I try to always talk decisions over with him, and get his opinion. That is inclusive talk.
There is a book out, The Five Languages of Love, my friend says covers these personal needs we have, but I haven’t read it yet. The Bible has several passages that address these issues. 1 Corinthians 9:22 says, “When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some.” When we understand the needs of others, we find common grounds for communication and relationships.
Another passage talks about how we should view one another. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” I think the lesson here is to value each other, and find ways to include and cherish others.
“What about our enemies,” you ask? We can certainly treat them with a measure of respect due any human being. I am impressed when I hear a police officer or judge address a lawbreaker as “Sir.” I’m sure that is difficult in some cases, but it adds to the dignity of the office. There is a presumption in society that there is a difference between who we are as children created in the image of God, and the acts of corruption we do. In some cases, it is hard to see that person as not having become evil, but as long as there is life, there is hope that our prayers will break through, and they will see their depravity and turn from it (prayer here is an act of love). If they do, many righteous people would have a problem with accepting the fairness of it. But we are all saved by grace, not by how good we’ve been. I got a little off track here, but maybe God wants someone to know this.