Split Vision

“A wise man’s heart guides his mouth.” 
Proverbs 16:23

Isn’t it curious how in the midst of a nasty family argument we can shake our bad mood the instant the telephone rings or a neighbor knocks on the door? Have you ever been brought up short by a small voice questioning such a sudden turn to peaches and cream after twenty minutes of fire and brimstone? Sometimes we treat those we love the worst, and kids are quick to recognize this hypocrisy.

Mark Hatfield, a longtime senator from Oregon and the father of four, said his wife once stung him by saying, “I just wish you were as patient with your children as you are with your constituents.” He isn’t alone. We’re all guilty at times of what might be called “split vision”— treating acquaintances with forbearance while losing patience or even heaping contempt on those under our own roof. We assume the worst. We pounce on every shortcoming. We never miss an opportunity to harangue. In the process, we wound the people we care about most.

It’s time we cut one another a little slack at home. If we say our spouses, children, and parents are the most significant people in our lives, we can prove it by showing them the same kindnesses we would bestow on our most honored guests.

Just between us . . .

• Are we as patient with each other at home as we are with guests and strangers?
• Why do you think we can be so hard on each other?
• How can we encourage each other to avoid this kind of “split vision”?

Father, open our eyes to see one another the way You do. Forgive us for the laziness and selfishness that so easily sour our family relationships. Help us guard our words and actions so that we may be pleasing in Your sight. Amen.

• Illustration from Quiet Times with the one You Love by Art Hunt (Sisters, Ore.: Multnomah Publishers, Inc., 1998).

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This devotional is taken from Night Light for Couples. Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reservedUsed with permission.