by Heidi Haines
Heidi is a photographer, writer, mom, wife, and a good friend of mine. I love this post – it makes me want to live differently. Please check out Heidi’s website, follow her on Facebook, and make sure to look at all her amazing photographs on Instagram. Enjoy!
Photographs are my favorite. There is something special about capturing beauty and being able to share it with others. This world is fabulous and I never get tired of seeing its beauty. I also love to be able to see via social media that my friend Amy was at the hospital with her baby girl. A beautiful photograph of the father of her child and Person of her life, holding the sweet baby girl as she woke up from surgery, it speaks so much more than words. Amy captioned the photo, “Can I just take a moment to say how very much I love this man and his tender heart toward our girls? We are blessed.”
And I wanted to say, yes.
But that seemed like a weird response, so I didn’t post it.
What I really want to say is: Please take a moment to notice your Person. Please take a moment to see the good in that Person and to acknowledge it, to yourself, to others, but mostly to that one you chose. Taking a moment to see to the good in your Person and believing it is part of what I think becoming One is meant to be.
My husband Steve and I have been married for eleven years. Out of those eleven years we have been happily married for four of them (the past four).The first six or seven years of our marriage we couldn’t figure out how to love each other well (Steve would agree with me on this). It’s not that we didn’t love each other. But marriage is really hard. We even got to a point where we could not figure out how to live happily together. We talked about divorce. Ultimately we wanted things to work out, but we were both so unhappy that we wanted to quit too.
We decided to give marriage counseling a try, to be able to say that we really had tried everything and it really wasn’t going to work out after all. However, after a few months of counseling and lots of intentional hard work, we started feeling hopeful. We also started to study Jesus more and what his life was like while he was here. We learned that loving like Jesus meant ascribing worth to yourself and others, believing that you are loved and valued and then offering that to those around you. Loving like Jesus means trying to see everyone through his eyes, through love.
It also turns out that loving like Jesus looks a lot like believing the best in someone. This led Steve to actively try to believe the best of me, as much and as often as he could. Which, one, meant that he would see the good things in me and then acknowledge them out loud, and two, he would chose to believe them. Even when we argue, which, of course, we never do…except when we do. But even as we would slip into arguments Steve would stop and purposefully think, “I love Heidi, and she loves me. Heidi is a good person, and she believes good things about me. I am going to believe good things about her too.” But even when things were fine and it was just a normal day Steve would still think about these things.
Here is an example: I love my children. I would do anything for them. Steve knows this to be true, but he also sees the times that I struggle, that I don’t always have enough patience, that my love for them is not perfect. Yet, I would hear him say to me, “I saw the way you were today…good job. I noticed that you said [that] instead of reacting because you were mad…I’m proud of you. I see you making good decisions, the choices that you want to make.” He purposefully looked for the good in me, the good that I wish were true all the time yet often is not, and started speaking it to life.
He loved me this way relentlessly. Instead of judging me based on my failures, he loved me in spite of them and believed that my heart was good. Often times I would tell him, “I don’t believe you,” because I did not love myself enough. But he didn’t stop, seeing the good and saying it out loud, until one day I started to believe him. This made me feel so loved and valued; I wanted Steve to feel the same.
However, giving my thoughts a voice was honestly very hard for me. I grew up in a stoic German family that did not show much emotion besides stubbornness, much less say the words, “I like you.” But I saw good in Steve, the same good that made me say “I do” all those years ago. I wanted him to know that I knew it was still there, so I practiced saying it out loud, even when it was difficult.
Now we are living love as a practice instead of a feeling, and this is one of the ways we practice loving each other. As we try to live more like Christ we are trying to see if we can be more gracious, have more mercy, speak more softly, listen more clearly, forgive more easily, and give more freely to each other. We fail sometimes and succeed other times. Marriage is not a destination, but a work in progress.
God intended for there to be a special relationship between Adam and Eve, but since then adding one sinful person to another sinful person in marriage does not result in beautiful, unified Oneness. We have to work at becoming One. Just as we are born as sons and daughters of God we also become children of God. Become, as in actively doing so right now. I have found that all meaningful relationships take work, and just because I got to choose Steve doesn’t mean he is always the easiest person to love. But when I am actively and purposefully choosing to love Steve every day I am seeing him less selfishly. It becomes less what he can do for me and more about what can I do for him.
I think part of becoming One is searching for the good in your Person, because good exist because of God. And dare I say that since we each are created in the image of God that each time you see good in your Person you get glimpse of God? And wouldn’t it be beautiful if that is what part of marriage got to be about, just to search out and find the glimpses of God in each other?
So, anytime you want to tell me about the good you see in your Person, or anyone else for that matter, I will gladly listen. I want to know, I want to hear how you get to see the image of God, up close and personal, shining out of one of his creations. That’s the beauty in the world that I really love to see.