Honor or self-betrayal?
For me, some of the most intensely moving verses in the Scriptures come from the Savior’s teachings on a quiet hill before multitudes.
It is stunning to learn that I cannot be angry, for any reason, without being in danger of Christ’s judgment. That speaking unkindly or calling names can put me in an awful state. That if I really want to come to Christ, I first have to make everything right with those around me, and that only in the state of repentance and forgiveness can I really approach him.
I have to strive to be better at behaving better. And I must do so toward all who are around me. Otherwise I keep myself away from God, almost like putting myself in a box. This is true of all of us.
Consider this. You awake in the middle of the night and hear the baby crying. Your first thought is to get up and tend to it, but almost immediately you think: “if I just lay here and feign sleep, my spouse will get up.”
You have a choice to either honor your first thought, which is proper and right, or to betray yourself, and ignore the feeling to do right by your spouse
Laying there in bed, trying in your mind to validate your poor choice, you actually begin to think of yourself as the victim.
The act of self-betrayal leads to thoughts that are distorted and warped. You begin to think of all the hard work you do daily on behalf of your family. You think of yourself as a good spouse, a good parent, hardworking, deserving of rest, patient, and fair. In your mind you overstate your good qualities and grossly understate your weaknesses.
Then you start considering how your spouse must surely be the inconsiderate one, mostly toward you. The terms “lazy,” “unappreciative,” “insensitive,” “not a good parent” come to mind. You grossly overstate the faults of your spouse, while understating the strengths.
You have now essentially put yourself in a box toward your spouse. And the longer you go without changing your position, the harder it is to get out of the box. Blame becomes the name of the game, and every time any mishap or misunderstanding arises, the blame starts anew, and you keep yourself in the box.
Getting out of the box doesn’t happen by trying to change your spouse (I know this from personal experience). It doesn’t help to merely try to “cope,” or by leaving, or even by talking it out. Changing your own behavior is a start, but it’s not enough, if that’s all you do.
To stop the self-betrayal and get out of the box, you have to change how you think about your spouse, how you feel about your spouse, and how you see your spouse.
These are the changes Jesus Christ wants us to make. He wants us to change from the inside out. He teaches us to see ourselves not as better than anyone else, but as one who wants something better for others; more than we want it for ourselves.
Honoring the thoughts and impressions that are good and right, and never thoughts that arise from anger or pride or self-interest, will always produce proper words and actions. When honoring these feelings, we find ourselves already out of the box – and before we have even done or said anything, we’ve given up our self-betrayal. We treat others as we want to be treated, we are able to approach our Savior and we follow his injunction to be perfect (Matt. 5:49 KJV).