Most of Christmas to New Year’s was spent in North Alabama/Tennessee. Charlotte is from North Alabama and so going there meant seeing much of her family, which we don’t get to see very often. It also meant that we got to visit with several good friends. Then we went to the Nashville area and stayed with our older daughter and son-in-law for a few days. It was fun, relaxing, and — over. The new year has begun.
In a few posts, I want to reflect on beginning the new year. After all, this is a great time for review, reflection, and then moving ahead. One dimension of my life that I want to consider as I begin the new year is my relationships with various people. When Jesus spoke of the two greatest commandments, he said that what was front and center was loving God and loving people.
As I reflect upon 2007, I want to consider my relationships with various people:
- my spouse
- my children
- my mom and dad
- my friends
- my neighbors
- my fellow-workers
- my employer
- my fellow church members
- my extended family
I have found that it is very easy to get used to behaving in certain ways toward another even though such behavior may be in direct opposition to what Jesus taught. At the very least, some behavior can violate the spirit of what it means to love. At first, such behavior may bother us. After awhile, we may become numb and callous to what we are doing. I might want to ask myself: "Is there a person in my world toward whom I am mean and/or rude or whom I treat as a non-person?"
A number of years ago, I watched an exchange between two people that made me feel sick inside. There was no conflict. No argument. No heated words. None of that. In fact, during this exchange both men were smiling and the conversation was pleasant. What was really disheartening was to see one of these men act one way in the other’s presence and then see how he spoke about the other man in his absence. Many people had heard this man regularly criticize and find fault with the man. He made derogatory and insulting remarks about the other man. He would question the other man’s intelligence and belittle him in a variety of ways. This was always done in the other’s absence, never in his presence.
I began to think about my own words and my own behavior. Do I live, speak, and behave with integrity toward others? No easy answers here, but I do want to think about this as it relates to my own life.
This is my point. I don’t want to move from one year to the next without thinking about my relationships. I don’t want to be on autopilot and never give serious thought to the way I behave toward others. It is not just a matter of eliminating negative behavior. Rather, I want to think about practical ways to express love toward some significant people in my life.
What do you think? What would you add to this as you think about your own life?