Welcome back to my Precepts series—inspired by meaningful thoughts, insights, and discoveries I have during each week, and intentionally designed to help make your life just a little bit better. I recently read the classical spiritual adventure story Beyond Ourselves by Catherine Marshall, and was inspired to share many of my thoughts and notes with you in today’s special article, which contains Precepts developed directly from her book. Enjoy!
You can find the Precepts series in its entirety here.
Precept 41: 3 Keys To Relationship Success
Do you want to have better relationships? Do you want to be better understood? Do you want to know that you love fully and are loved fully (which is the primary concern of most people on their deathbed!)? Then follow these three rules:
1) Say “I don’t know” more;2) Readily admit when you are wrong;3) Ask for forgiveness anytime you know you have done something wrong.
Points #1 and #2 above are theoretically simple to understand, but can be logistically difficult to actually pull off. They require ample amounts of humility, and you’d be surprised at the number of people who have an extreme cognitive resistance to simply saying, “I don’t know,” or saying, “I was wrong about this or that.” But if you can swallow your pride and adopt these values as part of your regular communication, you will find yourself experiencing far less angst in any of your relationships.
Finally, regarding the third point in the list above, which was inspired by the Bible verse in Ephesians 4:26–27 that says, “Never let the sun go down on your anger,” there is one important caveat: if you truly feel you have done nothing wrong, then be radically honest with your child or spouse or friend or co-worker and tell them that you are having a hard time finding or seeing what you did wrong, and ask them to help you understand why they think you may have done something wrong. As Doug Wilson writes here, don’t apologize just to make someone feel better, as that will result in you simply living a lie.
Precept 42: Soul With A Body
As I alluded to here when I explained how we are “light beings”…
…only your soul defines you. Only your soul will go on to exist for eternity, for better or worse. For those of us tempted to do all that we can to cling to every last semblance of bodily health in what is eventually a fruitless effort, this is an incredibly freeing concept to understand. Sure, it’s rewarding, and it feels good to have a nicely operating body and brain, but if you prioritize your spiritual care first, any efforts you put into your body and brain maintenance become far more enjoyable and rewarding because they’re no longer necessary for your happiness, but rather, the “icing on the cake” of an already fulfilled life.
Precept 43: One Rule
What I’m about to tell you is simple, but powerful, and is a very good rule to live your life by.
God is watching everything.
Once you begin to live your life by this rule, actions both small and large will become – by the grace of God – more aware, mindful, and full of empathy towards others. Didn’t wash your hands before making your family a meal? God is watching. Forgot to wipe the pee on the toilet seat, or replace the toilet paper? God is watching. Sneaking a few extra covetous glances at your neighbor’s home, or car, or spouse? God is watching. Tempted not to mention the extra bottle of water the grocer clerk forgot to charge you for? God is watching. Did the mailman accidentally deliver your neighbor’s mail to your house, and rather than hassling to bring it to your neighbor, you toss it in the trash instead? God is watching.
You get the idea. This also applies to work. If you labor in anonymous authenticity for God’s pleasure, you’ll find far more reward than all the public inauthentic work you could ever do for the world’s pleasure. God is watching everything, and He loves you.
That’s it for this week! If you have questions, comments, or feedback below, please leave your thoughts. I read them all!