I've often asked myself why it is that we seem to treat those that are closest to us with the least amount of care. There are times when perfect strangers receive more friendliness and respect from me than my spouse does. It is sad. The only thing I can figure out is that perhaps my spouse is the safest relationship I have. I present the "most honest version" of who I am to her. But that isn't fair, is it?
Who more deserves the best I have to offer?
My solution, along with rigorous self examination, is to modify that constant inner dialog to reflect my deeper commitments towards those I love the most. Those commitments are not based on feelings which shift with my moods and circumstances, but with my core values. That inner conversation determines my behavior, and my behavior is the only indication that others have to discern my care for them.
There is a problem, though. What determines my core values? Is it just my opinion of what right and wrong standards should be? The Bible clearly warns us:
Proverbs 3:5 (NLT)I must not draw my wisdom from within me, but from a more reliable Source.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.
If I align my core values with the fruits of the Spirit as articulated in Galations 5:22-23 (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self control) then isn't it more likely that my closest relationships will receive the benefits?
But those are hard to achieve because it is not my nature. I must surrender my will to move in the opposite direction of what comes naturally to me. It is my conscious choice to move toward maturity, and away from a feelings-driven life.
Something to think about.