Last night we gathered with our small group, a group of 3 other couples in the same stage of life, empty nesters. We’re a casual bunch. Everybody is busy but twice a month we meet at one of our homes. We decided in the beginning not to do a meal every time and not to fuss over our homes being perfectly clean and in order. All we require is a place for all 8 of us to sit and that we come willing to participate.
Currently we are going through a book called “Love Focused” by Bob and Judy Hughes. This is not the first time I’ve read it but it is the first time I’ve gone through it with a group. I highly recommend this book. I truly believe everyone can benefit from it. The general premise is do I live my life outcome focused or love focused?Do I lived based on the outcome or result of the situation or do I live based on loving others no matter what the outcome?
The last chapter and our current one have really challenged me to better understand why I do some of the things I do. I tend to want to take care of everyone and see that they are “happy”. While it’s good to care for others the motive is the question at hand. Am I caring for them out of love and a genuine desire to serve them or am I serving them so they will be happy with me and like me? Ooh, I know. Even thinking about that makes me squirm. I’d like you to believe that I help my husband, my Dad, my co-workers purely because I care about them. The truth is I often say yes to something I really don’t believe is “mine” to do because I want to “keep the peace” or I don’t want them to be mad at me. I don’t want conflict. After all if my husband gets upset that I don’t type an e-mail for him right this minute (He hates to write/type) he will probably get mad at me, right? If he gets mad at me then he will probably be crabby towards me all the time. If he’s crabby all the time, not enjoying life, then he will probably leave…do you see where this is going? Our fear of __________________ (you fill the blank for you) has caused us to decide we have to do something or we believe we will experience a negative consequence.
There is a TON more we can talk about but for right now I’m going to stop there. Take a moment to through yesterday. Was there any moment that you remember that you were irritated with someone or a circumstance? Did you grumble your way through doing something? Why were you doing what you were doing? Did you do it just to “keep the peace?” Now that the time is past think about it again. What truthfully might have happened if you had not done what you did? Was it something that really was their responsibility? Could they have done it? Do they always ask you to do it or was there a reason they needed help this time? If you’ve come to the conclusion that they could have or should have done it why didn’t they? The answer is you bailed them out! You enabled them! Why? Probably to avoid conflict. Again, at least in my mind, conflict often equals someone not being happy with me which leads to them severing our relationship.(Not true but it’s where my mind goes) Do I actually think all of these thoughts before I make a decision whether to type an e-mail for my husband? No. But lately when I catch myself grumbling (to myself of course) about doing something, I’ve been asking myself why I’m doing it? Sometimes it’s something I really should be doing but it’s an inconvenient time or changed my plans for the day. In that case, I just need a better attitude. However, sometimes it is not mine to do and I’m enabling a bad relationship characteristic. I’m keeping my husband or whoever from growing in an area of their life where they could grow. AND I’m not either.
So how do I break this pattern? Well the first thing was even recognizing I am doing it. Enter the book, “Love Focused” and our small group discussions. These are great learning tools and I highly recommend you read the book and have a small group to learn with!
The second and most important thing is to recognize that God loves me and His love is unconditional. I will always be loved by my Father God. (period) I need to live trusting what His Word tells us. He will never leave me and will always love me. His love is enough. My relationships with people are very important but they are not my only source of love and security. Check out Romans 8: 38-39 – NOTHING can separate us from the love of God if He is our Savior.
Does this ring a bell with any of you or is it just me?