A man told me that he and his wife had irreconcilable differences. I said, “Really? We do too.” He blinked. “Say what?” But it’s true. We couldn’t be more different. How can you reconcile the fact that even my wife’s thermometer is different from mine? She’s a hot mama, but she’s freezing at night. I have one little sheet on in the summer. She has flannel jammies. And a toque. And a down comforter. She is proper and cultured and neat and tidy and…well, I’m a guy. How can you reconcile the fact that I like to be early, and she likes to be, well, let’s put it this way: it’s like I’m from Germany and she’s from Zimbabwe. Ramona is quiet. I’m…not. After an argument, she’d rather go to bed angry, I’d rather stay up and fight. But through all the frustrations, we’ve had 35 great years together. And 35 out of 37 ain’t bad. It’s not because we’re compatible, but because we’re committed. Each of us daily chooses love and empathy and grace over judgement.
God looking for a perfect relationship, you’ll be disappointed. But when we are reconciled to God, grateful for his forgiveness, he makes it possible to be reconciled to each other. Here are three keys found in the Bible for unlocking better relationships with our friends, our children, our spouses:
- Take responsibility. Romans 12:18 says, “As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” You can’t control how others treat you, but there’s much you can do about the way you treat them. You can encourage. And apologize. And be humble. You can reply to a harsh word with a kind one. Take responsibility.
- Accept others. Romans 15:7 says, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” People are weird. So what? Accepting others doesn’t mean you agree with everything they say and do, but you value and honour them as a person made in God’s image. Accept others.
- Ask for and accept forgiveness. Ephesians 4:32 says, “[forgive] one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” It’s impossible to live a joy-filled life while holding on to bitterness. Would you set yourself free today? Forgive.
My parents were married 62 years. They once told me the key: They were good forgivers. And they laughed together. I once heard them laughing. I tapped on their door and there they were, wearing each others’ dentures.