Early on in our marriage, my husband and I attended a seminar that left a lasting impact on us. The speaker was talking about communication in relationships and as she was speaking, she set a glass head on the table in front of us. She proceeded to talk about how none of us has a glass head which means that no one can see our thoughts or our wishes. Therefore, it is an unkindness to assume that others should know what we want or expect.
This was profound for us as newlyweds. We were happily married, but we were already navigating the tricky waters of expectations. I felt like if I had to tell my husband that I wanted flowers than he wasn’t being the sensitive romantic I thought he should be. In our dating days, he had set up some tests to see if would be thoughtful and caring of him. We had both failed in the area of silent expectations.
The visual of a glass head on the table before us was jarring. It clicked for both of us. Unexpressed expectations would damage our marriage. I had to get over expecting him to know my thoughts and holding him accountable for not meeting my expectations. He needed to be clear with me and not set up hoops for me to jump through.
Nearly a quarter of a century later, I can tell you that we don’t always get this right. We are still sinful humans and our own selfishness rears its ugly head at times. But the glass head continues to be a reminder that being clear about our expectations is a way of showing kindness to one another. Likewise, withheld expectations is an unkindness. Brene Brown wrote this, “Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.” This has become a mantra for our family. We have learned that expecting others to know what is going on in our heads without ever telling them is an unkindness. But when we are clear with our expectations, we are actually showing kindness to the other person. Being clear allows the other person to show love to us in the way we need it.
You never know what someone is going through.
Be kind. Always.
This quote is one I see often, but I never tire of seeing it. It’s crucial to remember this in our relationships with other people especially after the year that we all have had. We don’t have glass heads which means that we can’t assume that we know what others are going through and we can’t expect others to be sensitive to us if we don’t share our struggles. But I think it’s safe to assume that we are all struggling. Always being kind will always be the best choice in our relationships. Can I say that again? Always being kind will always be the best choice in our relationships!
Being kind is not easy, especially when you feel the weight of a million unkindnesses heaped on your shoulders. But the beauty of kindness is that it is catching. Kindness begets kindness. It spreads. When you are kind to others, they will want to respond in kindness. And then they will want to be kind to others.
Our world needs this now more than ever. We’re scared. We’re divided. We’re angry. We’re lonely. We’re brokenhearted. Even without glass heads, we can be sure that every person we encounter is going through something difficult right now. None of us are exempt. So be kind.
This picture captured one of my favorite moments of all time. We had just finished a Fall family photo shoot with one of my best friends when we shared with her that we were planning to surprise the kids with what we hoped would be exciting news. As we pulled out the Thing 1, Thing 2 and Thing 3 t-shirts, our friend exuberantly asked, “Is there a Thing 4? Is there a Thing 4?” Her response was perfect. I knew our kids would probably have the same level of excitement.
The kids put their shirts on, but they weren’t really sure what was going on until I pulled out the “Thing 4” onesie. This picture was their response. Lindsay immediately started jumping up and down saying, “I knew it, I knew it, I knew it!” Ethan clasped his hands together and smiled with joy. And Gibson turned to our friend and said in a matter of fact way, “We’re having a baby.”
Dave and I couldn’t help smiling and laughing at their responses. It was a moment of absolute joy.
Moments like this are a reminder to me to be deliberate about living this way. Obviously, this doesn’t mean I should get pregnant every year in order to recreate this particular moment! But it does mean that these moments are possible and we should be intentional about seeking joy in our lives. It means that we should live with wonder.
The news that I was pregnant with “Thing 4” did not cause great joy when I first suspected the possibility. My youngest was three at the time and I was planning to go on a missions trip (my first since having babies) and I had signed up for a blogging conference (my first ever!). I was ready for what I thought would be a new season in my life. Another baby was not a part of that plan.
But God had very different plans for me and eight years later, I am so thankful that he knows best! Ainsley has brought more joy to our family than I could have ever imagined. She brings wonder to my life every single day and this is no exaggeration. She loves me so sweetly and completely. Only Sadie (our dog) rivals Ainsley in the snuggling department. My youngest is always up for adventure and we have made some pretty fantastic memories together already.
Living with wonder means that we look for the beauty in every situation. It means that when life is hard, we have to look harder, because there is ALWAYS something worth celebrating in every situation. The grief you have over losing someone you love? The wonder is that you were blessed by that person’s beautiful life. Keep looking for the ways they have impacted you. The heartache when you don’t get that job you wanted, the relationship you hoped for or the acceptance to THE college? Keep your eyes open for what God has for you, because it WILL be better. He always knows what is best for us. The unexpected sickness or diagnosis? Look for the joy you will find in the people who will pour love on you.
We can live with wonder because even in our darkest moments, we have a God who faithfully loves us. He never leaves us or forsakes us. He never lets us down or walks away. “If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” Psalm 139:9,10 (NIV).
Find the beauty in the broken. Celebrate the joys of life fully. Live with wonder!
A few nights ago, one of my children (who shall not be named!) came into our room in the middle of the night. It has been a long time since this particular child was up during the night, so when our dialog alerted us to the fact that this child was convinced we had an intruder and that they were shaking with fright, I gave up my spot in bed and slept on the couch for the rest of the night.
If I had been more awake when this interaction occurred, I might have been able to quickly determine that my child was sleepwalking. But it wasn’t until the next day that I discovered this to be true. My child had little recollection of the middle of the night conversation and was confused upon waking up in a bed not their own!
Some of my most embarrassing and bizarre moments involve sleepwalking. I woke up in the shower once during my high school years. Another time in college, I woke up in the stairwell of my dorm on another floor. I walked into my sister and her husband’s bedroom while I was visiting them. But most of my sleepwalking occurred in the first few years of marriage. Early on, my husband would wake me up, but we learned pretty quickly that this was not the best idea. I would get angry at him, because waking up in this way is disorienting and scary! He learned over time to simply tell me to come back to sleep.
We both distinctly remember the last time I walked in my sleep. He remembers waking up to sounds of me opening something in our bedroom. It wasn’t until morning that we were both appalled when we discovered that I had opened up his guitar case. If you know my husband, you know that his guitar is one of his favorite things. The thought that I could have broken his guitar in my sleep was shocking for both of us. I think this shock scared me out of sleepwalking, because I have not walked in my sleep since!
That being said, I feel like this past year has been a bit like walking asleep for me. I have never experienced anxiety like this year has brought. I lost a job that was important to me because I couldn’t function well enough to do it. It has been a scary and disorienting year. The mental and emotional fatigue has left me in a fog. I’ve been going through the motions, but there has been little motivation, excitement or passion. How do you have motivation when nothing is certain? How do you get excited when you feel misunderstood and attacked? How do you have a passion for anything when you feel like all of your dreams are laid waste?
It has been a year of dark valleys, yet my heart keeps being drawn back to truth. I know for certain that every path I have been asked to walk has been walked before by my Good Shepherd and he has been with me through all that I have faced. He has been my light in dark places and my anchor in the storms. He has not been harsh with me telling me to “wake up” or to “get over it”. Instead, he has lovingly beckoned me to come to him and to find my rest in him.
My children love the song “Wake up Sleeper” by Austin French. Although it is a call to salvation, I think it is appropriate for followers of Christ to understand that we are in need of the ongoing salvation of the Lord. We need him to be our rock and our refuge, our sustainer and savior, our Father and our friend.
Thank God for the daylight
I spent a long time in the dark
Felt good saying goodbye
Waking up to a brand new heartAnd if you’re sleeping like I used to be
In a grave that holds you tight
There’s a Savior calling
Promising a brand new life
He’s sayingWake up sleeper
Open your eyes
Oh sinner, arise
Leave your past at the door
Wake up sleeper
Come to the light
Christ is alive
Death don’t live here anymore
Death don’t live here anymore
There’s a verse in Matthew that gives a great visual picture, something I always look for in teaching my kids. It is Matthew 7:6 and it says, “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” (ESV) It makes sense. If someone is hostile to the message you have to share or you know that they will not listen to you, it may be an appropriate time not to share the message. But this requires a great deal of wisdom.
As followers of Christ, our whole purpose is to share the gospel with others and point them to Jesus. If we are doing this faithfully, we will inevitably encounter hostile listeners. We will see the gospel get trampled on and we will be attacked. Elsewhere in scripture, we see that “blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me” (Matthew 5:10, Berean Study Bible). We will be attacked if we are sharing about Jesus with others who do not believe in him, yet we will be considered blessed when this happens.
So how do we decide when to share and when not to? We are told to always be prepared to give an answer for the hope that we have (I Peter 3:15), but there will be times when we have shared and our words are met with anger, hostility, judgment and arguments over and over again. In these times, Matthew 7:6 becomes an instructive verse. The gospel is a treasure and it should not be thrown at the feet of those who we KNOW will just trample it. It is to be treated as a treasure and we should be inviting others to search it out for themselves.
A friend shared a quote from George Bernard Shaw recently that has stuck with me.
Never wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.
For me, this quote clarifies the “pearls before pigs” verse. If sharing what you believe with others only results in arguments that cause fractures in your relationships with no hope of the other person listening to you, stop wrestling. Stop the arguing. Stop throwing your pearls before pigs. At this point, you are getting dirty too. You are wallowing in the issue, trying to convince the other person, growing in anxiousness and frustration.
The difference is this: in the “pearls before pigs” verse, the “pearls” are the truth of God’s Word/the gospel and the “pigs” are those who are unwilling to hear that truth. But in the wrestling with pigs quote, it is very possible that YOU might be the pig at times. I feel like this is an issue that Christians forget. If sharing the gospel means that we get to be unkind, unloving, slanderous and mean, we are not actually holding tight to the whole breadth of scripture. And we are ALL capable of this. We are all sinners and our own self-righteousness can blind us to this fact.
Don’t wrestle with pigs, but don’t be a pig either. If your earnest conversations with others only result in arguments, it’s time to stop. Instead, keep pursuing Christ yourself. Keep loving him and allowing that love to overflow to others.