There is one trait that will revolutionize your relationships– humility. And yet, it is often what we turn to last.
Why is being right, or justified, so important to us? So we can win? So we can appear smart? So we can be better than someone else? We must ask why it matters to us so much to stand our ground.
There are certainly times where that is appropriate, as in a parenting decision for example, but when we simply hold onto pride, for the sake of being right, or because of a hardened heart, that merits a closer look.
The other day reckless words spoken in haste hurt my husband. I was feeling discouraged and that manifested itself as anger. He is the one closest to me, so when a volcano of emotion stirs in my spirit, it is most likely to erupt onto him. I knew I was wrong.
In our home, “I’m sorry” is for accidents, “Will you forgive me?” is for intentional slights. There was no question this was a “will you forgive me” moment. Yet, I couldn’t say the words. My pride was too big in that moment.
One of my favorite quotes is: The greatest distance between two people is pride.
I knew that I needed to own my behavior, but I didn’t want to. Holding onto the hurt is strangely satisfying in the heat of the moment. But afterwards, left in the hot overflow of emotional lava, it burns and wounds everyone involved.
Turning from my hardened spirit that day, I found him cleaning the garage and approached him with humility. Within minutes we were reconciled. Healing is not always that fast with people, but coming with a gentle, open, humble spirit opens the door to repaired relationship.
Our children are never too young to ask for their forgiveness. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve knelt before them, broken from my imperfections. And you know what I’ve found? Forgiveness is a language kids understand. They embrace it. They offer it freely and generously.
Age has nothing to do with forgiveness and humility. Parents, who are much older than their children, can deeply hurt them. Our imperfections rub against theirs and we hurt each other. The best thing we can do is model what it looks like to forgive and try again. We want our kids to know that people mess up, and that with the right spirit, forgiveness waits on the other side. That’s what family does. Over and over and over again. And we work to do it better next time.
If you find yourself in a relationship, particularly in your family, that won’t seem to budge in a positive direction, ask yourself – “Would humility on my part bring some healing to this relationship?” If so, be brave and take a step toward it.
Answer these questions about a person in your family with whom you struggle:
- What have I done that has contributed to the tension between us?
- How can I approach him/her with humility?
- What specific action can I do that would show a heart willing to work on the relationship?
- How would my actions toward this person benefit the entire family?
- Who could hold me accountable for keeping my attitude in check toward this relationship?