Are You Critical or Complementary?


Last year, we entertained the latest social media trend—a face morphing app— that took center stage. Here’s how it worked: you upload a recent snapshot, the app does its magic, and poof! You’ve aged by 50 years. Overall, it was a cool and funny glimpse into a possible future. Face morphing apps tend to awaken us to the fragility of time and the reality of change. Searching curiously to see the potential changes in our faces. But it is not just what we share of ourselves, but also the sheer joy that comes with laughing at or picking apart our friend’s faces.

Humans are experts at critically analyzing images. We instinctively judge one another and find faults. Especially in those we’re closest to. Mostly because our familiarity creates mental snapshots of what we want them to be. Should they deviate from our expectations, let the disappointment begin. Jesus gave a great revelation on this very subject. He said in Luke 6:41-42, “It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? (MSG).

Constant criticism is counterproductive and slows positive change. Your spouse may change into another face you didn’t want to see. You can love them, but not like everything about them. Our youngest daughter loves spaghetti but hates onions. There was a time I would try to persuade her to eat the onions, hoping that she’d enjoy them one day as much as I did. Nineteen years later, she still doesn’t like onions. Instead of forcing her to conform, I began to cut them larger. This way, she could love the dish but pick out the onions that she doesn’t like. Within your marriage, you must learn to love the dish as a whole while disliking a few things that come with it.

Consider what they’re going through. For instance, I, Lanette, needed to have major surgery. At that time, our children were under the age of 6. Sean’s role had to morph from a spouse to a full-time caregiver, a personal chef, and a parent. As a husband, he was being stretched to take on unforeseen responsibilities. Our routine was challenged. The tension caused us physical exhaustion for different reasons. Emotionally I was drained, and he was mentally overwhelmed with the new adjustment of life. We typically see ourselves according to what we do. “I am an entrepreneur” or “I’m a nurse.” The title almost functions as the definition of who we are. Imagine then transitioning from a career that’s become one of your many faces. Maybe there were layoffs, you had to move to a new city, or you’ve retired. Your sense of self has taken a hit. This may cause trauma within your relationship because the framework of their identity has been altered to some extent. If you’re the spouse who’s walking with them through this career change, you may notice a difference in how they treat you. It may leave you feeling some kind of way. But their inconsistent treatment towards you, their distant behavior, or even forgetfulness towards you may be the result of a transition within them.
Speak truth. It may be difficult to separate what they’ve done with who they are at their core. You must know and honestly believe that there’s still good within your spouse. Find your way back to loving them despite their flaws. Ask God to restore your sight. To help you see through His eyes of grace. Then agree with, and speak over them, His revealed truth rather than criticism. This is huge: Your criticisms may very well be rooted in the facts, but they may also perpetuate the very thing you wish to prevent. If you’re accusing your spouse or consistently finding faults, your words may behave like self-fulfilling prophecies. It is compounding the interest of a false narrative. When a season of weakness or momentary lapses in judgment get resurfaced and tossed into their face, it’s hard to escape.

If your relationship has been in a dry place, God can create rivers of refreshing. In the moments where you can’t see the way, He provides pathways to breakthrough. There’s a new thing available if you’re willing to forget the old stuff. You may say, “Well, you don’t know my situation.” You’re right, I don’t know all the details, but God does. My question to you, “Is there anything too hard for God?”
Maybe today is the day to release the past so that you may begin to grab hold of present promises and promises for your family’s hope and future. Every day you have to make a conscious decision to manage your expectations and face the facts of life with God’s truth. Begin to call out the gold in them. Affirming their positive qualities, speak to strengths, and encourage the greatness within them. Call out of them the precious from beneath their imperfections.

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