Today at church I had the opportunity to listen to a wonderful lesson that one of the young women leaders was teaching to our girls. The topic was how we can support and serve our family members, and why it is so important. As she was teaching, I felt very pensive. I have reflected on my my relationship with my family each and every day for the last few years. I realize that I probably was not the most amazing teenager to raise, and that I have so many shortcomings that it is a miracle that my parents even allowed me to live through my teenage and young adult years. Sometimes I argue with my husband over silly little things that neither of us remember the next day, and on occasion I have realized that I am just plain rude to my extended family.
I am not perfect. I have made many mistakes, hurt a lot of feelings, burned a few bridges, tried to mend wounds, learned, tried to grow, re-built relationships, cherished the little things, become best friends, and have really realized why family is so very important. Through it all, I think the biggest thing I have learned is that I could have done better. I think we all come to a point in our lives when we realize this. It’s part of growing up, really. This is something that I know now, and that helps make me a better person each and every day. I think before I act. I choose my words carefully. I make the decision to not be offended. I cling to the opportunities I have to see or talk to family. Sometimes, I fall short. I realize I have slipped back into being distant, or moody, or that I have started to take for granted these people who I love dearly. So I start again, trying each day to be better than I was the day before.
This lesson at church really impacted me today. As I was sitting and listening to the lesson, I was reminded of a quote I recently saw on facebook. It is by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, and it was a reminder that I needed to hear.
How often do we not do this? Why does it become so easy sometimes to assume that someone–especially someone we love–intended the worst possible thing and meant to hurt us? Why do we not give people the benefit of the doubt? Why do we let these feelings grow and fester, rather than assuming the good and letting the bad go?
Just like I am not perfect, my loved ones aren’t perfect either. The thing is, I don’t expect them to be perfect. They don’t expect me to be perfect. It’s okay to slip up. It’s okay to have a bad day. What it isn’t okay to do is push family away. It isn’t okay to look for reasons why our loved one is wrong. It isn’t okay to have to always be right. And, it isn’t okay to be offended by the little things, or to look for reasons to be upset.
Choosing to not be offended is actually much easier than you might think. Instead of assuming the worst and feeling hurt, try taking a brief moment to give the other person the benefit of the doubt. Brush it off, and move on. You will be astounded how much better you feel. Just try it. If you don’t see your relationships improving, you can always go back to being upset and offended. But I promise you, the more you try to “assume the good and doubt the bad,” the more you will feel the burden of contention lifted from your shoulders and your relationships.
Try it this week. This is my formal challenge to you, my 15 readers that have somehow stumbled across my blog. I’m not saying it will be easy. I’m expecting it to be quite challenging. But I am also expecting it to be very, very worth it. Extend the practice outside of your families too. Put it into play with everyone you come in contact with this week. Your co-workers. A friend. The person on the bus who takes the last seat. That car in traffic that cut you off. Choose not to be offended.
Assume the good, doubt the bad.