“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.”Romans 8:28 ESV
Romans 8:28 was my Grandma Courtney’s favorite verse. She quoted it countless times in her life. That reputation might be the primary reason she was able to endure so many hardships. Grandma was a young bride at 16 years old. She had a baby at 17 years old who passed away as an infant. She had another child whose father died in a car accident. His young son was only 9 months old. She was suddenly a very young, single mother and had to go to work while still grieving. She later married again and had 5 more children. These details were just the beginning.
She has long since passed away and I’m sure has been reunited with all who have gone before her. My grandmother greatly impacted my life because of her strength and tenacity and her “I-will-beat-it-against-all-odds” attitude. She kept changing her filter – the way she viewed or thought about events and people around her – to keep herself filtering everything freshly. I can’t help but believe that her life was better because of her ever-evolving positive perspective.
Like the air filter or oil filter in our car, periodically filters must be cleaned or changed altogether to maintain a good flow of air or oil. Otherwise, our car could overheat, resulting in an unnecessary breakdown and expensive repairs. Having fresh filters keeps our vehicles running longer and more efficiently.
Relationships in life can be tough. Some of the toughest ones to navigate are family relationships – parents, spouses, siblings, and children. Our close friendships are not always easy either.
Love is not a feeling.
I have often found that the only way to get past an issue with someone is to “change my filter.” This idea simply means to change the way I think about them. For example, maybe I don’t necessarily feel the love from someone or maybe I have even been genuinely hurt. To bridge the gap between us, I will eventually give them the benefit of the doubt. This helps me move on and think of them from a place of love rather than a place of disapproval. Essentially, I am “changing my filter.” It is a decision that I must consciously make.
Love is not a feeling. Love is a decision. This thinking is a major mind shift that requires some healthy self-talk and some pushing down of pride – not an easy task. And I have yet to master it because I am human and sometimes I just want to be “right!”
1 Corinthians 13:4 (NIV) begins, “Love is patient. . .” and that is where I already have a challenge. I am not a very patient person by nature, but I have learned the hard way that I need a degree of patience in order to sustain permanent relationships. God knew He would need to spell out the exact requirements for healthy relationships, otherwise people like me would look for a loop-hole!
The passage continues in verse 5, saying that love is, “not self-seeking” and “keeps no record of wrongs” (NIV). These clauses mean “change your filter.” You can’t be a “history teacher” – constantly reviewing how someone wronged you over the years.
Sometimes we want to be shown love in the precise way that we ideally receive it but ignore the failed attempts of the one trying to genuinely be a friend or make amends. We need to get to a place where we can accept people where they are. I’m not saying adopt their lifestyle or agree with everything they say and do, but treat them with respect and genuinely show them love and receive the love they offer.
This idea is a tall order, I know, but it is possible. I have seen people who interact with each other over the years fall into the same old trap of resentment about something that happened a long time ago. People wait on something from the other person, like an acknowledgement or apology, to mend that relationship. The resolution they continue to wait for may never come. There must be forgiveness because life goes on.
Let’s not waste another minute trying to figure out how to change other people or how to persuade their thinking to be more like ours. Continuously choosing charity and compassion helps you to cherish priceless connections. Commit to love them right where they are and, if necessary, change your filter.
If you have a difficult person who comes to mind, stop and pray for them right now. If you are praying for someone or a situation it is much more difficult to be critical of them. Try it!
For more from the author, checkout her book This Season of Hope.