Monday, November 14, 2011

Creating a Behavioral Covenant

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Matthew 22:34-40, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind....You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

 There are days when being in a family is difficult and takes purposeful effort to deal with things rather than just shove them under the rug. It is easy to think we can ignore our problems and they will go away. Generally that is not the case and they tend to fester and build up resentment till someone pops.

Today I had a really rough day emotionally. I realized that it was not just one thing but a whole bunch of little things that had added up to me feeling frustrated and discouraged.  I am thankful to have some people in my life that don't let me get away with stuffing and hiding and are quick to realize when I am not ok.  Those same people know that I am trying to be more transparent, honest and open and they prayed for me an held my feet to the fire.  They also held me capable of finding the solutions I needed with God's help.

So we had a family meeting and talked about Ephesians 4:15:32. As a family of believers we needed to agree to working thing out and to work to build stronger relationships with each other on the foundations of Christian principles and love.  Family takes work - and I realized that I had put off dealing with some attitudes and behaviors. That we had reached a place of needing to work things out.
So I give you Ephesians and Colossians 3:12-17 as the guides we used but there are many other verses that one might work from as well. It is a starting place.

We made a list of some of the things we value: Kindness, respect, honesty, love, forgiving, hard work, and doing things together. (I'm sure there are other things but these are what came to mind)

Then we made a list of behavior guidelines so that we can work through difficulties together.

• Listen to hear what the other is saying - don't be planning your defense.

• No name calling

• No foul or rude language

• Don't interrupt

• Don't Monopolize the conversation - give others a chance to respond and share their hearts.

• Be truthful in your appoligies

• Give others space to process.

• Allow for a timed cooling off or processing period with an agreement to come back and finish and resolve the issue.

• Respect others way of doing things.

• Watch sarcasm and being disrespectful.

• Review these things about once a month. As they may need some adjusting.
Ephesians 4:15-32(CEV)
15Love should always make us tell the truth. Then we will grow in every way and be more like Christ, the head 16of the body. Christ holds it together and makes all of its parts work perfectly, as it grows and becomes strong because of love.
The Old Life and the New Life
 17As a follower of the Lord, I order you to stop living like stupid, godless people. 18Their minds are in the dark, and they are stubborn and ignorant and have missed out on the life that comes from God. They no longer have any feelings about what is right, 19and they are so greedy that they do all kinds of indecent things. 20-21But that isn't what you were taught about Jesus Christ. He is the truth, and you heard about him and learned about him. 22You were told that your foolish desires will destroy you and that you must give up your old way of life with all its bad habits. 23Let the Spirit change your way of thinking 24and make you into a new person. You were created to be like God, and so you must please him and be truly holy.
Rules for the New Life
 25We are part of the same body. Stop lying and start telling each other the truth. 26Don't get so angry that you sin. Don't go to bed angry 27and don't give the devil a chance.
28If you are a thief, quit stealing. Be honest and work hard, so you will have something to give to people in need.
29Stop all your dirty talk. Say the right thing at the right time and help others by what you say.
30Don't make God's Spirit sad. The Spirit makes you sure that someday you will be free from your sins.
31Stop being bitter and angry and mad at others. Don't yell at one another or curse each other or ever be rude. 32Instead, be kind and merciful, and forgive others, just as God forgave you because of Christ.

Anyway we were able to work through some of the difficulties, frustrations and hurts that had built up. I guess my point of this is that sometimes to even be able to deal with stuff together we need to set some ground rules. For you it might be to remember the rules for fair fighting, or to create a list of things to agree all involved will all work to abide by so that we can deal with the issues at hand.

In my tendency towards being very private about the struggles I face in my life, I realize that there are others who would be helped if I am able to be open and honest.  Mostly its allowing the Holy Spirit to lead and finding the courage to deal with things not just wait for that straw that breaks the camels back and then try to pick up the pieces. I would encourage you to be pro-active.

Dear Lord,
Help us each to deal in a right way with the relationships in our lives and the dynamics of family and friendships that are at times hard to navigate through. Bring peace to the storms of our lives and help us to keep our eyes on you and to allow you to lead us to wise and right solutions for the things we are currently facing.

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