“What????” I didn’t speak it out loud, but my mind was struggling to see what this had to do with me and Man of My Dreams. We had a great marriage, but we struggled with communication and mis-communication at times.
The speaker, Emmerson Eggerich continued. “Good will. Do you believe that, at heart, your husband has good will for you? Husbands, do you believe that your wife has good will for you?”
It seemed an odd question. “Good will” sounded quaint and old fashioned, but the idea in light of how I interpreted how Kary and I interacted was revolutionary to me and since then, I have thought about that question many times.
It was posed to us at a Love and Respect Marriage Conference, which I highly recommend. It was life and marriage changing for us and that question, “Do you believe I have good will for you?” has been posed by one or the other of us multiple times through the years.
But it is not just a marriage question. If you ask that question in any human interaction, it will be life changing.
Say your husband does something like, say, buys you chocolates for Valentine’s Day. But you’ve been dieting. Working out. Bought a new outfit. And you’ve told him. And chocolate is your Kryptonite. And he buys your favorite kind of chocolate–the kind he knows you can’t resist. Ever.
“How could he?”
The tapes start running in your mind about how he did it on purpose just to sabotage your diet. He doesn’t care about you. Not really. He always does this. “How could he????”
Or, if you believe he has good will for you, you realize, he just made a mistake. He’s always gotten you chocolate for Valentine’s and he was really excited that he remembered the ones you like. And every Valentine’s Day but this one, you would have been, too.
Sometimes we infer things on other people that they don’t mean. Sometimes people aren’t wrong. They’re just different.
And if we believe that, at heart, they have good will for us, we can let them off the hook.
“Do you believe I have good will for you?”
We can understand that it was a mistake, not an attempt to “get us!”
And if we translate that into our other relationships, what a difference it could make!
I just read a friends Facebook post where she apologized for evidently offending the whole world. She wrote a general comment that was taken personally by someone who confronted her in such a way she felt obligated to delete her post and then write a public apology–even though it had nothing to do with what the confronter thought it did! The ensuing comments to her apology were along the lines of, “I know you! You’d never try to offend someone publicly.”
So what is the difference between those friends and the man who confronted her?
I believe it is because her friends know she has good will for them, so even if a word or action seems “off” or not her norm, they show grace because they trust her heart.
Right now, our world is so polarized. Friends calling friends out over who they voted for. Friends (and family) “defriending” others (online and otherwise) who believe differently from them. Students burning and rioting over free speech–by keeping a speaker they don’t agree with from speaking! The world feels like it is spinning out of control. It doesn’t feel safe to even have an opinion or to speak up.
And yet, isn’t that a part of what we need in human interaction?
Maybe we can’t change what happens in the world, but we can change what happens in OUR world by believing the people we know and care for have good will for us. That if they say something we don’t like, maybe they just didn’t realize it would hurt our feelings. Or maybe they had a bad day and just reacted without thinking how it sounded. Or maybe they truly are an idiot but we love them anyway!
But if we believe they have good will for us, we can let it go.
And hopefully, as we let things go, others will be encouraged to let it go as well.
Patricia King says that “offenses aren’t given. They are taken.” So true. That doesn’t mean we’ll never be offended. That just means we don’t have to take it up, hold onto it, let it fester and grow within us. And if we make the choice to not take offense, to believe others have good will towards us and we have good will towards them, what a life change!
Life is more beautiful when we believe that others have good will for us.
Does everyone? No. Probably not.
If you are interested in the Love and Respect book and conferences, I highly recommend them! You can find information at www.loveandrespect.com