My kids are big readers. They love their books. It’s not uncommon to walk into their rooms and see them all reading for fun. To say reading is one of the favorite hobbies around my house would be spot on.
Even though they love to read on their own (even my 1 year old), my kids will still ask me to read to them. Sometimes they ask me to read to them because they don’t know all the words. Sometimes they ask me to read to them because they like the funny voices I can add to the story. But usually they ask me to read to them just because they want to spend time with me.
The other day one of my girls was having a rough day. Her siblings did not seem to want to listen to her while they were playing outside. Then she had to come inside and change because she got her favorite shirt dirty. Overall, she was just having a rough moment. She was trying her hardest not to have a melt down and came running to me for a hug. While I was hugging her, I saw her glance at the bookcase. “Mommy, can you read me a story?” she asked.
Of course, I can. I knew that she did not really care about reading a book. I knew that what she needed, in that moment, was some quality time with her mom. She needed to feel loved and get away from the things that had her upset. So, we sat down on the couch together and read a book. By the end of the book, her tears were gone, a smile was on her face, and she was ready to go back outside and play with her siblings.
Somehow my 3-year-old daughter knew exactly what she needed and was able to ask the correct question to get it. Me… not so much… I might know what I need, but I fail time and time again to appropriately communicate that… to my husband… to my friends… to God…
For example, the other day my husband and I got in an argument. I said what I felt like I needed to say, let him say what he needed to say, and then I walked away from the conversation. Honestly there was no use in arguing. We did not agree. I knew that I had upset him, but I did not feel like my request was out of line. In fact, his response is what actually upset me. I know he was not responsible for my feelings, but my feelings were hurt.
I could sit around all day thinking about how much he hurt my feelings… how upset I am with him. I may have even prayed a selfish prayer that God will convict him…By doing this I was only hurting myself and our relationship as I spun my tornado of emotions.
But then when I went to the Lord in prayer (after I stepped back from my emotions), I asked for God to change my perspective. Help me see past my feelings. Change my heart.
See- I cannot be a victim and a victor. I have the choice to sit in wallow in my emotions or to rise above them and see the truth. I cannot change someone else. No matter how hard I try. God reserves that authority for Himself.
Taking my eyes off what I perceive as the problem and focusing on growing in faith and obedience has had a huge impact on all my relationships. As I pray for a change of perspective, my eyes are open to the truth. Most of the time I am not right. Now that doesn’t mean my husband is always right either. It means there is a middle ground to stand on. See marriage takes 3. When we are both trying to be right and trying to “win” an argument, we lose. We have to take that step back and ask God to change our hearts, change our perspective, help us see things the way God sees them.
One time I was actually praying a prayer that God would convict my husband of how harsh he was being. I was even making a list of the things God should convict him of… instead I heard in my heart, “Renee, love keeps no record of right and wrong.” Come on God, let me be upset. He wronged me. “No, Renee, love keeps no record of right and wrong.” Alright God, I get it.
I have learned that this life is not about getting what I want. It is not about being happy. It’s about being holy. It is about growing in obedience and trust in God. I had to let go of my “list” of things that had been done wrong to me. Not because the list was invalid, not because my husband was right, but because in doing so, I was growing closer to God.
Like I said before, I cannot change anyone. No matter how hard I try. But when I take the step back to grow closer to God, I can see Him also working in my husband. Not too long after I had the conviction to let go of my list, my husband also shared his conviction. Reading straight from the Bible he told me, “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them- Colossians 3:19.”
How awesome is our God! While He is working to refine me, He is also at work in those around me! When I can change my focus on growing towards Him, I can see Him alive in others! Trust Him! He knows what He is doing!
Since this experience, I’ve learned to pray prayers that improve my walk when I am in these situations. Pray for a change of heart. Pray for perspective changes. Pray for the person who has hurt me. Pray for the person who drives me bonkers. Pray to be more like Jesus.
Seriously it works. In my experience, God is not necessarily changing that person (though He may be). He is changing my heart towards that person. There are times that God does change my husband, but what I have found is that if I focus on God, and my husband focuses on God, God becomes the glue of our marriage.
As I pray these prayers I begin to see God at work in so many ways. It is my on-going prayer that God will use me and my family to do his will. I have started praying that God will open my eyes to where He is already at work. As I have grown closer to God, I have realized my desires begin to change to meet His desires. I’ve realized prayers I have been praying all my life have a deeper, more meaningful sustenance.
Prayer is the greatest tool we have! Thanks to Jesus and what He did on that cross, we have the ability to go before our Heavenly Father and ask for what we need. However, many times what we think we need and what we actually need are not the same thing.
It is my prayer for you that the Holy Spirit continues to peruse you. That He continues to change your heart to a heart more like Christ’s heart. That God’s will becomes your will.
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
I John 5:14