Begin with the Prayer of Abandonment.
The other day I opened the front door and found my two kids engrossed in play, drawing chalk pictures on the front stoop. Oblivious to my presence, their conversation became louder and more strident, until at last Sarah stood up and faced her brother, fists on hips.
“How many times do I have to TELL you?” she shouted. “When are you going to LISTEN to me? It’s my job to take care of you, and it’s your job to listen – and if you won’t listen, you make my job very difficult!”
Christopher didn’t even look up. He just kept drawing.
It would have been funny . . . if I hadn’t made the exact same little speech just that morning. Same intonation. Same volume. And, regrettably, the same results.
Somewhere along the line, I’ve been bitten by the “nag bug”: the unfortunate tendency to remind those I love – over, and over, and over again – whenever they engage in behaviors or say things I don’t like. As I’m sure you can imagine, especially in marriage this kind of “constructive criticism” is not an effective behavior modification tool. More often than not, it just starts an even greater conflict.
The “Prayer of Abandonment” has one line in particular that I find intimidating. Really makes me want to dig in my heels and resist:
“Whatever you do, I thank you. I am ready for all, I accept all.”
Now, it’s one thing to offer this to the Perfect Almighty One. Quite another to give this latitude to another human being. What if he takes advantage? What if he never changes?
And what if he doesn’t? Will you still love him? Will you be as kind and generous to the man (or, if you are a man, the woman) God has entrusted to you for life? Will you love him . . . even when?
This “even when” is at the heart of every good, lasting marriage. It does not deny or gloss over faults and frailties, but accepts that person warts and all — and believes that God is working in and through him, for the good of you both.
Today’s challenge: What qualities or habits are most likely to bring out the “nag bug” in you? What is an alternate response — perhaps one that focuses on the corresponding strength to this weakness? For example, when you find yourself picking up the socks in the middle of the bathroom floor, you could breathe a little prayer of thanks for your husband, make a little game of picking up the socks with your toes and flipping them into the hamper, or install a little basketball hoop made out of a wire hanger and some netting) over the hamper with a sign that reads “Sock Ball — Free kiss for each basket scored!”
Today’s prayer: “God, thank you for my husband, and all the ways he enriches my life. Exterminate the ‘nag bug’ in me, and help me to remember to practice the virtues of patience and loving-kindness. Amen!”