So when I’d make a left turn with a car coming towards us in the opposite lane, she would tense up, grab the door handle, and jam her foot against the floor as if there was a second brake pedal on her side of the car.
Her apparent lack of trust irritated me, so once we’d made the turn, I’d sigh loudly and say, “See, we had plenty of room” … which did nothing to diminish her sense of near disaster or reduce the adrenaline that had sent her heart racing.
Frankly, it didn’t do much for our relationship either.
All of this changed when the Lord prompted me to evaluate my behavior through the three lenses of relational wisdom: Self-awareness, Other-awareness, God-awareness (aka, the SOG plan).
As I thought about Corlette’s reaction, I realized that this was not a matter of trust. It wasn’t something she chose to feel; she was truly frightened by my driving. When I turned in front of an oncoming car, her brain processed the data in such a way that she was genuinely convinced we were in danger … thus the rush of adrenaline and reflex pumping on a nonexistent brake.
Although my actions were not premeditated, I finally saw that I was repeatedly subjecting Corlette to unnecessary fear.
This realization forced me to take an honest look at my own heart. Why, to save a mere six seconds of time, would I knowingly scare my wife?
The answer to that question was not pleasant to face. I was guilty of insensitivity, a lack of empathy, pride, selfishness … in short, a recurring failure to love.
Finally and most importantly, I had to ask myself how God viewed my behavior. It took only a moment to realize I was not pleasing him. The Bible contains clear instructions on how to treat people in general and my wife in particular, all of which I’d been sinfully ignoring. For example …
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3-4).
“It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything that causes your brother to stumble” (Rom. 14:21).
“Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor” (1 Cor. 10:24).
“I try to please everybody in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many” (1 Cor. 10:33).
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25).
“Husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor …” (1 Pet. 3:7).
As I reflected on these verses, I realized that I had not been looking out for Corlette’s interest to feel safe. I was not giving up my driving preferences for hers. And I was certainly not living with her in an understanding way.
I finally saw that this wasn’t some small difference of opinion between her and me. Since I was violating clear biblical commands by being insensitive toward my wife (whom God views as a beloved daughter! Col. 3:12), this was a matter of me sinning against God. Therefore it was time for repentance.
So the next time we were driving together and I needed to make a left turn with a car coming toward us, I waited … and waited … and waited. By the time the car passed and I actually turned, it was obvious to Corlette that there had been plenty of time to turn ahead of the other vehicle.
Realizing I’d waited in deference to her, she reached over and gently touched my arm. With a warm smile and pleasant voice, she said, “Thank you. That was very thoughtful of you.”
Instead of the mutual irritation such turns had previously caused, I felt a wave of affection and thankfulness from my wife and for my wife …
Which moved me to ask myself, “Why did it take so long to realize that such a simple gesture would bless her so much?”
How about you? What is your “left hand turn”?
Have you been ignoring ways that you scare, frustrate or disappoint another person?
Have you been oblivious to ways you could comfort, encourage, or support someone else?
Like me, you may find that major improvements come from very small changes … like waiting just six seconds to make a left hand turn.
– Ken Sande
- I heard this proverb during my recent trip to South Africa: “If you don’t think little things matter, just spend a night in a room with a single mosquito.” How can this insight motivate you to apply the principles in this post?
- Why is it helpful to examine our conduct toward others through all three lenses of relational wisdom (God-awareness, other-awareness and self-awareness)?
- Describe some “little things” that other people do that scare, frustrate or disappoint you.
- Now try to discern some “little things” that you do that may scare, frustrate or disappoint others. In other words, what are some “left-hand turns” in your life?
- What are some small changes you could make that would comfort, encourage, or support someone else?
- Commit to one small change this week and follow through until it becomes a new habit.
Copyright 2015 Ken Sande
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