I volunteer with elementary age children at my church – 3rd graders on Saturday night, and 5th graders on Sunday morning. Seeing the kids are a highlight of every week. In the Sunday morning class is where I met Alex (not her real name), a cute-little-adorable-very-shy 5th grade girl. Her first week in class she didn’t talk to anyone. During small group time, she shook her head to pass in lieu of participating in any discussion. The next week during small group time she spoke one time when asked a question, but in such a whisper no one could hear her. I put my ear as close as I could without making it awkward, and asked her to repeat what she had said. Week after week the most communicating she did was maybe one small whisper during our group time.
June, July, August, September – only occasional small whispers.
During these months, I made a point to reach out to Alex. As cheerfully and sincere as possible, Good morning, Alex, it’s good to see you. At the end of every week I’d make sure I gave her a high-five and told her I looked forward to seeing her next week.
June, July, August, September…September, mid-September, something changed.
At the start of class Alex talked to me. During group time, as soon as I asked the first question, Alex shot her hand up to answer. She participated all the way through our group time and spoke up. Tears are beginning to form in my eyes as I recall last Sunday, and this beautiful transformation I am so thankful for. It had been three and a half months!
This got me thinking about marriage…
Do you have struggles in your marriage?
Do you have tension in one of your most valued relationships?
As I’ve worked with couples to improve their relationships, one phrase I’ve often heard is, “I did [insert a kind gesture] and nothing happened, he/she didn’t change.” They can’t seem to understand why things don’t change instantly. But let’s be real, what changes instantly? Not much. Usually, before change occurs it takes a process.
It takes time.
It takes work.
Pick an area you’d like to see change in, and practice kindness toward the person and the situation, and repeat this kindness over and over.
One month, two months, three months…as much as it takes, and as long as it takes, and wait for God to work.
I once talked with an extremely happy married couple and inquired their “secret.” He gladly spoke up, “Oh, it wasn’t always this way. I was horrible to my wife. But she was so kind to me over and over that I just couldn’t keep treating her terribly any more. I changed. And now I continually look for ways to bless her.”
The only person we have control over is ourselves, we can’t make anyone do anything. All we can do is follow what God’s telling us to do.
“And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.”
Certainly, these words given to us by our Lord would apply to our marriages and our most valued relationships.
When we step out in kindness we open a gate to transformation. In relationships, it’s always the right decision to be kind.
Today, everyday, be kind.
Subscribe to Lu Says and get regular updates. Engaged? Or know someone who is? Or you just want to work on your marriage? Order, “From Me to We: A Premarital Guide for the Bride- and Groom- to- Be” by Lucille Williams, because it’s never too late to work on your marriage.