Believing the best is a godly road, but one that we often do not walk on.
By Danail Tanev
A recent article in Insider lists numerous studies on how good relationships make us physically and psychologically healthier, lower depression levels, and make us more successful in life. Relationships are the main way God has provided for us to supply one of our biggest needs: to love and be loved.1
As Christians we know that God Himself exists in the relationship of the Trinity. He has made us in His own image: created to live in relationship. As believers we often experience major breakthroughs and open doors through the power of divine relationships.
On the other hand, bad relationships can ruin lives. It is vital to know how to build healthy relationships: in marriage, at work, and with all the other people around us.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 gives us profound tools and principles on how to build healthy relationships. “Love… believes all things [looking for the best in each one]” (I Corinthians 13:7, The Amplified Bible). How impractical is that! Love believes all things? Wouldn’t that make me naïve—more of a pushover?
No, believing all things, or looking for the best, is not a foolish road. It is a godly road, but one that we often do not walk on. Instead, we play what I like to call “Mind Games.” Let me explain.
Every day we play mind games without realizing it. We communicate through words. The one that receives the words has to “interpret” the message behind the words, considering things like context, motives, or hidden agendas. In case we don’t have the full information, our minds take the words, filter them through our personality and experiences, and create context in order to fill in the missing data.
We play this game a lot when we text each other. Here is an example:
Wife: Honey I invited mom for dinner. Hope that’s okay with you.
What does “okay” really mean here? Which of these is the real message?
- Okay, I don’t care!
- I would love to have dinner with your mom!
- Okay, I’m busy. Leave me alone!
- This will be a frustrating dinner but I will try to behave.
Let’s Take Another Example
Husband: Honey, I plan to go out with guy friends tonight. Do you mind?
Wife: It’s your call.
Men know this can be a dangerous answer because most of the time it means, “You will pay for it later!”
What about if you say “hello” to your colleague and she doesn’t respond? What conclusions do you jump to?
In scenarios such as these, our minds make a conclusion about the context and the meaning of the message. The conclusion we choose to make will determine the distance between us and the persons we are in communication with.
What version do you believe when your husband is late from work, or your friend doesn’t call, or your parents don’t respond the way you expected? According to 1 Corinthians 13:7, love always chooses to believe the best version!
One evening after church, my wife wanted to buy bread. She said it would just take five minutes. I asked her several times not to distract herself with anything else because the kids were really fussy. She went into the store and I waited and waited… for twenty minutes. I didn’t know what was happening and sadly, I decided to believe that she had started looking around for other things to buy. I was extremely frustrated.
When she finally returned, I could not control my frustration. “How on earth does buying bread take twenty minutes?” I asked.
She politely explained how workers in the store and a big line at the checkout caused the delay. In my mind, I knew I was wrong to feel angry. But because I had already rehearsed the bad version of the situation, my emotions were saying: I know what I heard, but she has to be guilty. She can’t just get away so easy! I can guarantee it was not a positive experience for our relationship!
Every time we choose the negative version, we harm our relationships and create distance between ourselves and the other persons.
What if we choose to believe the good version, and then it turns out the “bad” one is actually true? What if my wife had really wasted time in the store on purpose? Then, hopefully, we would have talked about the problem in a healthy way. I wouldn’t have been emotionally messed up because of rehearsing the worst-case scenario in my mind.
Love always chooses to believe the best!
Learn more about relationships in Staying Together: A lifetime affair by Steve and Mary Prokopchak. Check it out here
About Danail Tanev
Danail and his wife, Nora, host a weekly online talk show reaching Bulgarians in over 60 nations, both believers and non-believers. They are the main Christian voice to Bulgarians on the topics of dating and relationships. Learn more here