Do you find yourself constantly irritated by other family members? Are you regularly irritated at their seeming inability to measure up? Is it common for you to let even the littlest of things irritate you? Usually when you get irritated, you assume it's the other person's fault. But what if we assumed that your irritation is your own problem, not theirs? What if we put the burden on you to quit getting so irritated, instead of demanding everybody else to abide by your standards?
Do you find yourself regularly disappointed by other family members? Is it common for them to let you down? Are you often complaining about how your family is a disappointment to you? Usually when you get disappointed in your family, you assume it's their fault. But what if your being disappointed was your problem, and not theirs?
The expectations you have for your spouse, your kids, your parents, your brothers and sisters, your family and friends are often your primary source of irritation and disappointment. If you want to be less irritated and less disappointed, then lower your expectations. Better yet, get a clearer grip on reality, and then adjust your expectations accordingly.
Too many people hold expectations for their family that are not based on reality, they are based on fantasy. You hold in your head and heart what you wish someone would be like, what you wish they would do for you. And then you hope and wish they will please you. And then you get irritated when they don't fulfill your wishes as completely as you wished, and you get constantly disappointed.
Dealing with reality is a gift you can offer to yourself and your family. Be honest about your desires that you have for your spouse, kids, parents, bro and sis, your family and friends; be honest and open about them. And then don't demand or expect everyone to fulfill your desires. Instead, be constantly grateful when somebody does fulfill a desire. In fact, you have permission to go out of your way to help other people fulfill your desires. Make it easy for other people to fulfill your desires. Sometimes we make it so hard for people to make us happy.
Paul writes to individuals and families, to husbands and wives, helping them connect the dots when it comes to expectations for their home, for desires of peace and love. Here's what he writes:
And regardless of what else you put on, wear love.
It's your basic, all-purpose garment.
Never be without it.
Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other,
in step with each other.
Wives, understand and support your husbands
by submitting to them in ways that honor the Master.
Husbands, go all out in love for your wives.
Don't take advantage of them.
We forget sometimes the context that Paul wrote this stuff. You are safe to assume that the wisdom he sent to his friends was radical and subversive and tinged on rebellion. It went against the grain of society, and yet it was like seeds for a whole new way of running a home. Paul's stuff still has that radical, fresh twinge to it. Consider it from this point of view:
Wives: Jesus is your model for servanthood and leadership to your Husband
Husbands: Jesus is your model for sacrifice and empowerment to your Wife
It's easy to take for granted the servanthood a wife pours into her marriage. And its all too easy to overlook the leadership she gives that sustains a marriage. Wives can get bitter and soured on servanthood and leadership in their home when it goes unnoticed or unacknowledged. And wives can hold out for themselves all sorts of expectations for how to serve and lead in their home based on models like: their own mothers or grandmothers, celebrities, neighbors, etc. But a wife is at her best when she patterns her servanthood and leadership after the Way of Jesus.
It's hard to find good models for husbands these days. It's not often you hear about husbands that regularly make sacrifices for their wife. If they do, it's often with a grimace, not a smile. And where are the models for husbands to empower their wife, to help them blossom and grow and stretch? Too often husbands fuel expectations for their wife to be a sex-object, or their second mom. But husbands are at their best when they pattern their sacrifices and their empowerment to their wife after the Way of Jesus.
Both husbands and wives need to serve and lead, to sacrifice and empower, and they both need to know how Jesus did this stuff. Jesus regularly took the servant role, even though he was the greatest one in the group. Jesus knew how to make decisions that were win-win-win for everybody involved - both short-term and long-term. Jesus was willing to make the necessary sacrifices without complaining, yet aware of the cost. And Jesus made it a point to empower those around him - men and women - that they might do even greater things than him.
Desire the Way and Peace of Christ, let it keep you in step with each other. And wear love.