“Are you seeing the BIG picture or just the Bad picture?” This is a great question to ask yourself in the moment when it may seem that the “wheels are falling off” on any given day, situation, or relationship. Too many times, especially when I have been tired or stressed, I have put too much emphasis on the “temporary time” and not taken a good long pause in order to take into consideration the “bigger picture.”
For example…when our kids were competing in golf, especially as I was learning the game and spectating…I would see them get angry and follow one bad shot with another. Thankfully, as a parent…it is against the rules to coach your children during a round, but as a parent I wanted to correct their behavior and attitude. I learned quickly, thanks to a friend and sports psychologist, that the “bigger picture” was that they would finish their round and then pause to look back over it.
Upon reflection, they would see where their anger was carried to the next shot or hole which did not allow them to play their best, meaning one bad shot followed another. Sometimes, early on when they all were old enough and mature enough to relate their behavior (attitude) to their score, things started to change. They stopped allowing the “temporary” to affect the “big picture” of the round. There are 18 holes in a round of golf. If it is a par 72 course, then the most shots they wanted on a round would be 72 but they were always hoping for less…meaning an under par round like a 68 or 66. To them that would be ideal.
In life how many times do we let the “bad picture” of the moment affect the big picture in a relationship? With a spouse? Our children? A sibling? A parent? A friend? A roommate? A co-worker? Someone you have an ongoing relationship with and you allow something to fester, a word or an action or inaction to become so magnified that you let it damage the relationship.
Life is way too short and relationships are way too valuable to let an isolated incident ruin the “bigger picture.” Confronting the situation and “speaking the truth in love” is a great course of action. Not letting it carry over or carry on. Sometimes you may need to give it a few hours or days…but after you let the emotions settle…going to that person….and trying to work it out is recommended.
I have learned to pray first… take the time. Ask God for the words and allow Him to show you the right words and actions and then go and say, “Help me understand what happened here.” Or “Maybe it is just me, but I feel like something is wrong between us?” Or come out and say, “Did I say something or do something to hurt you?”
Understand, if the person says, “no” but you still feel that something is wrong….”give it to God!” You can only control your thoughts and your actions and attitude. When you seek to reconcile…and you take action with the right motives and the right heart….then you have done your part.
Romans 12:17-19 reminds us that we need to work towards peace but also know that some things need to be left in God’s hands. Remember, He has the helicopter view. “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.'”
At 52, I have learned that this process frees my mind and responsibility in the relationship. Never be too prideful to say you’re sorry and mean it. It is okay to say what hurt you as well. Your/my feelings are important too. It is all part of “guarding your heart” and the relationship. Part of communicating and working through our “sinful” behavior as people is learning to address the situation and the hurt….then and only then do you become better. The relationship has the chance to heal but become better. Valuing the “Big Picture” in relationships always trumps the “temporary bad” picture.
As Christians we understand forgiveness. We understand reconciliation. Or do we? C. S. Lewis reminds us of what it means–“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”