I recently solved a mystery that had created years of havoc in my relational life. The mystery was solved when my wife returned to me. No, we were not divorced or separated. She had been away to take care of our daughter-in-law, who was recently in a serious accident.
We’d been married for 33 years, and this was the longest we had ever been apart. While she was away, my love for my wife grew exponentially. But several days after she returned, our relationship began to be unsettled. Why? What happened?
Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. While we were away from each other, I had time to empty myself of myself. I thought of ways that I could be a better husband. I made plans for her benefit. I created surprises around the house. I made sure that several of the things she wanted done were accomplished. But when she returned, I became self-focused. Now it was my turn. Now I wanted her to meet my needs – and when she didn’t, I burrowed deeper into a state of self-pity and self-preservation.
Then the light came on. I realized that healthy relationships are built on the foundation of an emptied self. But we can’t stop there. Our emptied self must then be filled with the love of Christ. I truly believe that most of our broken relationships today are the result of us being too full of ourselves and too empty of an intimate relationship with Christ. It is only when we are fulfilled in Christ that we can fill the lives of others.
Experiencing conflicts? They’re probably an indication that you are too full of yourself. Do you want to change? Then let nothing be done through strife or self-conceit; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. And follow Christ’s example, who emptied himself, taking on the form of a servant (paraphrase of Philippians 2).
Redemption and resurrection in our relationships are only an emptied self away.
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