Thursday, August 16, 2012

Empathizing with Weakness {does not mean excusing sin]

So.  I read relationship advice on Yahoo! Shine sometimes.
I do.  
Like anytime I am looking at the news headlines & there is a relationship headline, 
I click on it.
Also?  My husband occasionally does this, too.

Recently I was mucking about in the kitchen & he was browsing the online world.
He asked me if I wanted to know, finally, finally know -
the one key to lasting & happy marriages.
Yes.  Of course I did.  Read to me Yahoo! Shine, sweet darling.
Empathy, he declared.
And I was pleasantly surprised.  I think Yahoo! Shine got it pretty right on with this one.
We both agreed.  This was a job well done.

We all want to be understood and accepted, right? 
But, as Christians shouldn't we hate the sin, you ask?  
How can we have empathy for all that bad stuff we have to witness in our spouses?
And this applies to any relationship we are in, I would think.
Parent/child, friends, siblings, etc.

Empathy is the ability to understand.
That does not mean we have to excuse sin, though.
In order for our marriages to be pointing to God's glory, 
we should be encouraging one another in holiness.
We should be growing more like Jesus. 

Allow me to quote my current book love, "Just How Married Do You Want To Be?"
"Marry a person who isn't entertained by your sin.  
Marry someone who isn't fun to be with 
whenever you are indulging in your favorite way of being unlike Christ.  
Marry someone who likes you best when you are following God, 
and likes you least when you're not.  
Otherwise, it will be too easy to fall into the trap 
of conspiring in sin with the person you marry while yet telling yourself 
'we're so good for each other'"

By God's goodness, my husband & I are, most of the time,  this way to each other.
He planned us as a good match.  We do have opposite strengths & weaknesses.
Sometimes that can make it hard to empathize with the other's weakness.
How can it be done, if you don't really struggle with the same issues to the same extent?

I think we can empathize with the weakness of the one who is different from us, 
by being grateful for their strengths.
If you look at the complete personality of yourself, 
do you not see that your strengths & your weakness are connected?  
God gave me a personality, just for me.  
It is not more prone to sin or more prone toward greatness than any other personality.
In all the things He made me strong in, if I use those apart from His truth, 
then I will end up twisting those to sin & they are my weaknesses.

Example - a person whose great strength is a nurturing heart 
will have their weaknesses within this same sphere.  
The nurturing heart may turn into a controlling person 
apart from trusting the work of the Holy Spirit in others.
Or perhaps a guilt ridden person, apart from believing God's grace.

As the empathizing party, try looking at your spouse (child/friend/whomever) 
& see what great potential is underneath that weakness.
What is the "other side of the coin"?  
That stubbornness has potential for so much, under the power of Jesus.
That obnoxiousness could have another side
of someone being able to see reasons for joy in all things.
That attention-needy person has potential for strong connection.

When we are grateful for the strengths of the personality, 
we are better able to empathize with the weakness.
And when we show empathy, correction is better received by anyone.

Perhaps empathy is key to a happy, lasting marriage.
And, accountability is a key to a growing, holy marriage.

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