9 Love should be shown without pretending. Hate evil, and hold on to what is good. 10 Love each other like the members of your family. Be the best at showing honor to each other. 11 Don’t hesitate to be enthusiastic—be on fire in the Spirit as you serve the Lord! 12 Be happy in your hope, stand your ground when you’re in trouble, and devote yourselves to prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of God’s people, and welcome strangers into your home. 14 Bless people who harass you—bless and don’t curse them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and cry with those who are crying. 16 Consider everyone as equal, and don’t think that you’re better than anyone else. Instead, associate with people who have no status. Don’t think that you’re so smart. 17 Don’t pay back anyone for their evil actions with evil actions, but show respect for what everyone else believes is good. Romans 12:9-17
I have a confession. Sometimes I have pretended to take my husband’s feedback with more equanimity than I actually felt. On New Year’s Day, I suited up to take my grand puppies on a nice long New Year walk. I was zipping up my new ski jacket, thanks to my dad’s gift shopping at Christmas, when Pete said, “Don’t you think it is too warm to wear that jacket today?”
I said something about thinking that I was old enough to pick out my own clothes, grabbed two of the dogs and their cute little leashes and hit the pavement.
When I go for a long walk, I am usually gone for over an hour. And we don’t lolly gag either. Within ten minutes I was getting pretty warm in my puffy coat, and by the time I was on the last leg of the walk, I had a major insight. It occurred to me that my “perfecting” husband RARELY gave me a bad suggestion. Thinking that perhaps this was an over statement, I slowed my pace and ran through my memory bank, trying to think of the last time the man steered me wrong. Nada. Nothing. Zip. Couldn’t come up with one bad suggestion.
I asked myself, “Teresa, why do you resent suggestions from a guy who has such good ones?”
I replied, “Because it makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong.”
What??? I stopped dead in my tracks and let the dogs sniff and snort along the road’s edge. I had a moment of clarity that went something like this: His suggestions are not the problem, my attitude about the suggestions is the problem. He offers a suggestion now and again (and again) when he thinks his suggestion would be HELPFUL. The guy isn’t accusing me of anything. He’s just trying to be helpful.
I went home, pulled off the too hot coat (thanks dad it is awesome), and said to my beloved, “I am so sorry that I have had such a lousy attitude about your suggestions. For the next month, would you do me the favor of every single time you think of a suggestion for me – share it? Text/phone/email/in person – whatever it takes. I need practice receiving suggestions, and you give such great ones!”
He agreed – which was mature of him, because I haven’t handled his suggestions with a very good attitude at times. Boy am I glad it’s March! Just kidding! It was a great month of giving and receiving.
Whether you are one who tends to give a lot of feedback, or receive a lot of it, I think the Romans passage sets a TONE for how to do both. See how this thought might help you today!