How often have you had the best intentions towards handling a situation or relationship, but, when you were in the middle of it all, everything seemed to go awfully wrong? You may have someone very dear to you, but there is an element to the relationship that drains you emotionally. Subsequently you end up feeling like a failure because feelings of frustration and irritation begin to surface, which in turn do not glorify your Father in Heaven. And so the vicious cycle of condemnation begins again. Does this sound familiar? I certainly have battled with this on numerous occasions.
The type of relationship issues I am referring to are not those of huge conflict or deep pain. It’s the everyday, almost non-essential, issues we often face in relationships - all those little things that so easily cause irritation and distance. It’s the little foxes we read about in Song of Solomon 2:15, ‘Catch the foxes for us - the little foxes that ruin the vineyards - for our vineyards are in bloom’ (HSCB).
From this scripture we understand that Solomon was referring to an existing relationship where nurture allows love to bloom and bear fruit. For us, reading this, it is a reminder to be aware of the damage that can be done by allowing small things to grow into big issues.
I had a miserable moment recently and had fallen into the same cycle I described in the opening paragraph. Discussing it with my husband, I remember saying that I didn’t know how to handle the situation differently and that I didn’t know how the Lord wanted me to do this.
The next morning the Lord gave me His answer through a wonderful article that I came upon and I have since read a few times. The penny dropped when I realised just how Jesus wants me to love when it is difficult. In God’s perfect love for me, I am freed from needing to find joy in a difficult relationship. He frees me from my selfish self-regard, which in turn enables me to look towards the other person and what is truly for his or her good and building up. And Jesus helps me do this gladly when I am secure in Him.
Once again, Jesus is the perfect example. He succeeded in love because He was able to look past His human wants and needs towards His Father. His focus was on the joy set before Him on the other side of the pain and mistreatment. He completely trusted in His Father and His promises.
In the same way, I am freed to follow in His footsteps. My joy comes from knowing that He is pleased with me, not from what others think of me or what I receive from them. If I then accept others, just as Christ accepts me, I bring praise to God (Romans 15:7). And this is the ultimate joy.
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