Split Vision

NLFCOUPLES

“A wise man’s heart guides his mouth.” Proverbs 16:23

Isn’t it curious how in the midst of a nasty family argument we can shake our bad mood the instant the telephone rings or a neighbor knocks on the door? Have you ever been brought up short by a small voice questioning such a sudden turn to peaches and cream after twenty minutes of fire and brimstone? Sometimes we treat those we love the worst, and kids are quick to recognize this hypocrisy.

Mark Hatfield, a longtime senator from Oregon and the father of four, said his wife once stung him by saying, “I just wish you were as patient with your children as you are with your constituents.” He isn’t alone. We’re all guilty at times of what might be called “split vision”— treating acquaintances with forbearance while losing patience or even heaping contempt on those under our own roof. We assume the worst. We pounce on every shortcoming. We never miss an opportunity to harangue. In the process, we wound the people we care about most.

It’s time we cut one another a little slack at home. If we say our spouses, children, and parents are the most significant people in our lives, we can prove it by showing them the same kindnesses we would bestow on our most honored guests.

Just between us…

  • Are we as patient with each other at home as we are with guests and strangers?
  • Why do you think we can be so hard on each other?
  • How can we encourage each other to avoid this kind of “split vision”?

Father, open our eyes to see one another the way You do. Forgive us for the laziness and selfishness that so easily sour our family relationships. Help us guard our words and actions so that we may be pleasing in Your sight. Amen.

  • From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • Illustration from Quiet Times with the one You Love by Art Hunt (Sisters, Ore.: Multnomah Publishers, Inc., 1998).

Learning the Hard Way

NIGHT LIKE FOR PARENTS

Righteousness guards the man of integrity. Proverbs 13:6

Many kids feel pressure to earn good grades at school; some resort to dishonest means to get them. I (JCD) once succumbed to this temptation. When I was in the eighth grade, I was required to read a certain number of great books during the first semester. Unfortunately, I hadn’t even started as we approached the end of the term—so I selected the thickest, heaviest books in the library and told my teacher I had read them all. Consequently, she gave me an A on my report card. My mom was impressed, my dad was proud, and I was as guilty as sin.

In a moment of true confession, I admitted to my mother that I had cheated. Instead of getting mad or grounding me for six years, she simply said with quiet intensity, “Well, you’ll just have to read the books.” “But, Mom,” I said, “how can I read the collected works of William Shakespeare, Ben Hur, and about ten other huge books?” “I don’t know,” she replied, “but you’re gonna do it.” I spent the rest of that school year poring over the classics while my friends played football and talked to girls. No one ever paid more dearly for a little dishonesty.

My wise mother’s response taught me a priceless lesson. She understood that God is “pleased with integrity” (1 Chronicles 29:17)…and she made sure that I never forgot that truth.

Before you say good night…

Have your kids ever cheated at home or school? How did you respond?

How can you encourage godly integrity in your family?

Father, we want to come before You as people of righteousness and integrity. Help us to avoid sinful shortcuts in our lives, and show us how to respond with wisdom when our own children fall short of Your perfect ways. Amen.

  • From Night Light For Parents, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.