[notice]A fortnightly column on marriage, family and relationships.[/notice]
We all wish that when we entered marriage there was a rule book that we all understood. A book that covers all the rules of marriage telling us how exactly one should behave in different situations in which we find ourselves. As any driver will tell you we all had to learn different kinds of rules to test if we were ready to be trusted to drive a vehicle. One of the segments in the test was to test our knowledge of the rules of the road. There is one rule that has been on my mind these past few weeks; a rule that has many lessons for us not only when we are on the road but lessons for life. When we are aware of this rule and we fully implement it in the way it was intended we save many people’s lives but when drivers do not apply this rule they put their lives in danger…THE RIGHT OF WAY!
Who has the right of way when you are approaching an intersection? Do you insist on your right of way at the expense of lives that can potentially be lost. Should you keep it at all cost? What if some people are first-time drivers?
A couple of times these past few weeks as I was approaching an intersection — sometimes it would be a four-way stop and other times it was a traffic circle — it was my right of way to enter. What I do ( not always) is to be cautious about what is happening around me first before entering. In one instance there was a speeding bike coming from my left. Had I entered the traffic circle, as it was my right of way, we would have surely collided.
How many times in our marriages do we insist on having our way? How many times have we collided with those we love just because we are not willing to back down? How many times in marriages have people gone their separate ways; have found themselves “in a place of no return” because they insisted on having their rights upheld? Do we want to be right all the time at the expense of our relationships; at the expense of our family? Have you ever thought of humbling yourself; just keeping quiet even if you know that you are right. Sometimes it helps as our beloved Lord teaches us “to turn the other cheek! (Matthew 5:39)” Our Lord when He was accused; spat at; mocked and beaten had all the resources of Heaven at His disposal. He could have called the angels of Heaven to come and defend Him and His attackers would have been dead but He chose to humble Himself. He chose to go through the crucifixion. He who committed no sin chose to die for yours and my sin so we could have eternal life. Sometimes it takes humbling yourself for the sake of maintaining the peace and for the sake of saving those you love.
Yesterday South Africa was celebrating 25 years since Nelson Mandela was released from prison. Here was a man whose freedom was taken away from him only because he chose to stand up for what he believed in. He did not do any criminal activity. He was not a murderer, his only sin was that he believed in the ideal South Africa where all her people were free. 27 years were taken from his life; life away from his wife and his young children; years where dad should have been there to guide his family but he was in prison being punished for crimes that he did not commit.
He sacrificed seeing his children growing up for the sake of freedom for the peoples of South Africa. On the 11th of February 1990 he could have come out a bitter man from prison. He could have come out a revengeful man, a man who wanted war, a man who wanted people to pay for what they did to him and his comrades BUT he chose the road less travelled. A path pf peace! He humbled himself for the betterment of all the people of this nation. He humbled himself so we could enjoy the freedoms that we now enjoy!
Way of the cross
Sometimes as family, as a husband or a wife there are times when we have every right to be upset. If you were to tell people the story of why you are hurt; in pain and angry they would absolutely understand your right to feel that way. They will even say “You have every right to be upset; to be angry. You have every right to walk out of your marriage”. I would like to propose a better, more excellent way. A better way that our Master showed us that when we choose , even when we are right, to humble ourselves can save many people; you can save your family. You can save your marriage. Is it easy? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Even Jesus Himself will tell you that dying for us at the cross was not easy but He focused on eternity. He focused on 1995 and He saw that Neziswa had to be saved. You and I are called to do the same. We are called to daily take up our cross and to follow Him. Is it easy? ABSOLUTELY NOT! BUT to save our relationships, to save our marriages, to save our families we may be required to humble ourselves and seek the path of peace.
Is it your right? Is it your right of way? You might have the right but Oh the ways of Heaven! The Bible says “God’s ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). Choose to follow His ways today! Choose to let Him guide you in your family! Choose to let Him be the driving instructor that will tell you that the right of way must be applied when you have considered your fellow drivers. You do not just enter an intersection or a traffic circle without checking for oncoming traffic and your blind spot. You have to consider what is happening around you so you can make a decision to yiled that will not only save yourself and those who are in the car with you but other cars which would collide with you if you insisted on exercising your right of way.
You have to yield; you have to humble yourself; submit one to the other for a relationship to work. If everybody in a family; if the two people in a relationship insist on both of them forging ahead with their individual actions there will be a “collision”
When you insist on being right all the time indirectly what you are saying is that you do not value your spouse’s opinion. You are unwilling to entertain the fact that you might be wrong. You have one set of eyes and as much as you might believe that you have all the information about a certain situation your spouse might see something that might be a lifesaver. Insisting on a right of way in marriage does not inspire intimacy; that place in your marriage where you are comfortable and secure to voice your fears; dreams; aspirations and opinions knowing that you are accepted; loved and cherished enough to be who you are. The Bible tells us about perfect love. It says “Perfect love casts out all fear” (1 John4:18) when we are in a relationship where one part is the only one who is always listened to one might feel that she is in a prison. A place where you are alive but your actions; speech; aspirations are restricted because you are not allowed to be who you are.
I have found that many times when people insist on having their own way on the roads it is because of impatience and often their discourteous behaviour is accompanied by words that are unprintable. We are in this world but we are not of this world. We are called to love and love is patient and kind. Love does not insist on its own way but rejoices in the right. Love is not irritable or resentful. In the greater scheme of things insisting on your right of way when there is clearly a potential collision if you do so is dangerous. It is no different to marriage.
Insisting on being right and on getting your own way ALL THE TIME might ultimately kill your marriage and that is why our beloved Lord saw it as extremely important to include it as a warning in His love Book to us. Be more aware as you apply this life principle. Be aware of other people’s feelings and be considerate of their feelings As you do, you will find a certain flow; a level of intimacy that you have might never enjoyed before! Seek the way of peace and the word promises us in Matthew 5:9 that “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God”.
UNTIL NEXT TIME SHALOM!