Joshua and Anna met in mid-life and were overjoyed to finally find a love worthy of committing themselves in marriage. Coming into this new relationship without previous marriages or children, they thought the path forward would be as easy as their path of falling in love had been.
But about a year into the marriage, Joshua admitted one day over coffee, “This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. We almost didn’t make it to the one-year anniversary.” I listened as he explained that several months in, they began to wonder if their legal backgrounds and excellent skills as litigators were not aiding marital communications. “We both needed to win,” he explained, “and we both thought we were always right.” Easy thing to believe after decades of living alone and making almost every career and life decision independent of anyone else! But through the gift of a wise therapist, Josh realized he didn’t need to be right outside the courtroom. Many years later, the question he still returns to when tempted to argue is, “Would I rather be kind or right?”
Setting the intention to grow in love helps us ask different questions than “How can I win?” or “How do I get my way?” or “How can I convince them that this is the best path forward?” Intentionally growing love is fostered by questions like the one Joshua asks of himself when disagreeing with his spouse. “Would I rather be kind or right?” “How can I be kinder?” "Do I want to win or do I want to love?" When we root ourselves and build ourselves up in love, we create a different kind of harvest. We're no longer growing wins in the courtroom or the boardroom, but we are growing wins in the rooms of our lives. Setting our intentions to lean into kindness and compassion allows us to grow and nourish love. The death of our selfish thoughts doesn’t come automatically because we’re rooted in love, but God's grace and our compassion work together to nourish us to be more loving and less selfish - creating a harvest of better relationships and life-giving impact.
When we let go of judgments of others and the need to be right, we can let go of arguing about the person who celebrates the New Moon or the one who doesn’t keep the Sabbath day. Or more pragmatically, letting go of judgment and allowing grace to flow through the vines of our lives help us to quit arguing about what kind of clothes others should wear and what political positions our leaders and colleagues should take. When we clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, and we be bear with one another, arguments take a back seat. We all can set our intentions as Josh and Anna did: Would we rather be kind or right? Choosing kindness will always grow more love than being right ever could. Setting our intention to grow in unity and love will always grow more churches, businesses, and life-giving impact than any strategic growth plan ever could. Rooted and growing in love, we can clothe ourselves in love, bind ourselves together in unity, and allow peace to rule our lives. This would actually make everything both kind and right. Imagine that.