In Luke 6:36-38, Jesus says, “Give and gifts will be given to you… For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”
Think about it… what gifts would you love to have in life? No, I’m not talking about a big screen HD TV, a fancy house or a BMW 650i coupe. I’m talking about things like peace, happiness, respect, love…
A couple of years ago, I was very unhappy in my marriage. I was angry and resentful, feeling as if I was doing more than my fair share and yet my husband never seemed to show the appreciation I felt I deserved. I blamed him for not being the father, husband and provider that I thought he should be. He was bringing a lot of baggage home from work, letting that baggage effect our family life, and I was really sick and tired of it.
By the grace of God, I came to the realization that I was receiving back exactly what I was giving. I was angry, so I was receiving anger in return. I was resentful, so I was receiving resentment in return. I wasn’t showing respect and appreciation for him, so he wasn’t showing respect and appreciation for me. It had become a very vicious, very destructive cycle, and one that it took a lot of humility and patience to break.
Reading the book For Better… For Ever!: A Catholic Guide to Lifelong Marriage by Gregory Popcak, I came to understand that one of us had to suck it up and take the first step, and that person had to be me. I realized that I had been holding back so much from him because I felt like he wasn’t giving those things to me. I started going out of my way to do extra little things for Ray, being sure to greet him at the door with a hug and a kiss, saying “I love you” frequently, seeking out opportunities to recognize his accomplishments, bringing him coffee, making sure he had a cold beer in the fridge when he got home, and – yes – initiating intimacy.
It may sound like I turned into June Cleaver, and it may go completely against our cultural norms. But - not surprisingly – Jesus’s words held true. I received in the measure with which I gave. When I stopped holding back, and stopped treating my husband with anger and resentment, and instead started giving the things that I knew I wanted in our relationship, he started to do the same in short order. He was surprised, and maybe even a little suspicious, at first, but I tried to remain patient. Once he came to trust that my motives were out of love, he too began to treat me in a more loving and open manner. Our relationship went from on the brink to very sound. Don’t get me wrong, we still have our moments, days, and weeks, but now I know that when things start to get ugly, I first have to look at the ugliness within myself, rather than examining the ugliness that I think I see in him.
So, I ask you again: What gifts would you love to have in life? If you don’t have them, take a long, hard, honest look at yourself. Are you giving those gifts to others? What can you do to give those gifts more freely?
“Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap.” Luke 6:38