Marriage and family life—if done well, and if our relationships are increasing in intimacy and spiritual fruitfulness—take so much thought and concentration that we need to keep our minds fresh and focused. If we don’t preserve our emotional and mental energy for our marriage and family, we can be distracted from what is truly important to us. It is shockingly easy to miss a child’s growing coldness toward God, a spouse’s discouragement, or just let ourselves go into general drift, slowly falling away from each other if we let unhealthy people dictate how we spend our emotional and mental energy.
Don’t let Jerks determine your focus
Since we have only a limited amount of focus and energy to spend, we simply don’t have time to nurse grudges, especially with people outside our immediate family (even if it’s certain extended family members). We certainly don’t have time to let a jerk at work or a disturbed person at our church keep robbing us of thought and energy that could be invested in our marriages. Why spill one ounce of energy or one gram of thought on an unhealthy individual or dysfunctional situation that we’re never going to fix?
Don’t sabotage your chance to build a functional new family by wasting time trying to “repair” a dysfunctional old one. We can’t choose what others do to us but we can choose what we let ourselves focus on. We don’t have to let an unhealthy person invade our home—mentally or physically.
Deciding what to focus on for yourself
In his wonderful book The Blessing Life, Gerrit Dawson warns that “The worst power most of our enemies have over us is mental. We nurse our hurts and replay the terrible words over and over. We get shocked and outraged all over again every day. We compose replies. We fantasize victories. We plead our cause before a judge and win again and again. We refuse to forgive and thereby keep the sin alive and kicking in our souls. The other person may never even give us another thought. We are punishing and torturing only ourselves.”
When this process unfolds, we let an enemy attack us twice—once to our faces and then again, as we keep the fight going mentally. Dawson again: “That’s where the wisdom of Jesus comes in. I hate to pray for enemies. But Jesus knew what he was talking about. It’s the path to freedom. It stops the pain. It ends the war. It takes power away from the enemy. It brings God and his healing presence to bear. It invites the heavenly sheriff to come into your house and evict the squatters.”
Use prayer to regain your focus:
Since praying for our enemies can feel impossibly difficult, I love Dawson’s suggested, model prayer:
“Father, I know you do not repay me according to what I deserve but according to your grace in Jesus Christ. So act toward this enemy in the same grace. I don’t know how to pray for him. I can’t really wish him well. But I can pray that your will would be done in his life. I pray you would be at work in his heart. I will not try to prescribe to you what that work is, even though if you want my advice, I have some great ideas. Rather, I will just say, Father, complete the good work you began in him. Bring your truth to bear. Bring your Word to fulfillment. Be God in his life. Be the triune God of grace toward him, according to your plan.”
And then, let it go. Refocus on your family. Do something special for your spouse. Plan something wonderful for your kids. Don’t let an outside feud take one more second of your time or one more thought from your concentration. Your marriage and family deserve your full attention.
Focus on what really matters
Every minute we spend rehashing an old wound or convicting an enemy in a fantasy trial is a minute we’re not praying for and serving our families. It’s a minute we’re not worshipping. It’s a minute we’re not dreaming about where God wants to take us and our loved ones. It’s a minute we’re not being thankful. It’s a minute we’re stealing from our homelife.
We can’t stop evil or unhealthy people from hurting us or attacking us, but we can stop them from taking over our minds. Find release by giving the matter over to God in prayer, re-focus on your family, and let your enemies go.