Is it really OK to be first?
Yes, as a matter of fact it really is OK, even good, to be first sometimes.
How can this be?
I don’t know about you, but I know that I grew up with the idea deeply ingrained in me that being first is selfish. My laid-back nature does not naturally push to be the first, but I prefer to wait in the shadows, hoping that somebody else will take the lead. This can be a very Christian attitude, and it can be very loving, But there are times when being first is actually more loving and unselfish.
First Things First
We are in day six now of the Ultimate Blog Challenge, and the writing prompt for yesterday was to offer one piece of advice about something with which I am familiar, or experienced. I will not claim to be an expert, but I am quite familiar, and do have a good bit of experience with marriage.
My husband and I have been married for 21 years, and while we have had our normal share of ups and downs, ins and outs, blessings and trials, we are still on the same page, and we are still striving for the best marriage possible.
In light of this, and in light of the many trials along the way (learning experiences), the tidbit of advice that I’m sharing is this:
Challenge yourself to go beyond your comfort zone, and be first. Yes, you did hear me correctly: strive to be the first in your marriage.
- I be the first to say I love you
- Choose to be the first to forgive
- Be the first to initiate loving acts between you and your spouse
- Be the first one to get out of bed, and do what needs to be done. Maybe it’s making the fire, or fixing breakfast, or cleaning up the puke from a sick child. Be first. Don’t wait, hoping that someone else will do it (I know you know what I mean!)
- Be the first to offer a back rub, knowing that it will be an encouragement.
- Be first to reach out, even when it’s not what you want right then.
- Be first to kiss him/her goodnight
- How about being first to pray for your spouse?
There are so many areas in marriage it’s perfectly fine, and even pregnant with blessings, to be first.
Waiting to Make a Move?
Waiting for someone else to do the right thing first can lead to not doing it at all. Waiting for the other person to make the first move can be a sign of fear, insecurity, or sometimes pride.
Often, we just plain don’t make a move to do what we know would make things better because we are selfish. And I think it’s OK to admit that.
We have to explore why we wait for someone else to make the move even though we know that our relationship would improve if we ourselves took action.
Give and Take
The truth is that marriage and all relationships require give and take. It’s good to ask ourselves what are we giving, and what are we taking.
Are we just waiting for someone else to give before we give? I know that I have been guilty of that, and that I continually struggle with that— to wait until someone else makes a move before I do. So often we assume someone feels one way, and they may not feel that at all. At the same time they may be thinking that we have thoughts toward them that we may not even have. We can waste a lot of time assuming that we know what the other is thinking and miss out on many blessings.
So I am telling you out of my own experience both with the positive results and the negative times— in matters of conviction, be the first to take action.
The Right Tools
A few tools that can help us to give in a way that the other person appreciates are:
The Love and Respect Series by Emerson Eggerichs
The Five Love Languages Series, which includes topics for marriage, family, parent-child, and various child/teenager relationships. I noticed that they now even have a nook focused on military families and their special needs.
I’ve used all of these resources in the past and still use them.
Disclaimer: don’t hear me telling you that you should be the doormat. Quite the contrary. Take the initiative when it’s in your power to do good. Giving first does not mean that you can never “take”, or accept good things. That’s not what this is addressing. Merely, don’t refuse to take action because you’re waiting for someone else to make the first move.
Competing to Be First
I once heard of a couple who had a contest running throughout their whole marriage. They determined at the outside of their marriage to engage in a friendly competition. They would continually try to outdo each other in little kindnesses. As they performed these selfless services, their love grow stronger and the humor that resulted from stealthy acts of kindness made everything brighter.
Being first applies to a greater sphere than just a marriage.
- Be first in a group to choose what’s right.
- Be the first one to smile when someone walks in the door
- Be the first one to reach out to your child in love when they know and you know that they’ve blown it.
- Be the first to grab the ice cream when someone needs a little pick me up
- Be first to volunteer
- Be the first Friend to pick up the phone and Carl.
- Be the first to put your phone down when someone is talking
Be the first and last to scatter seeds of kindness wherever you go.
I think you’ll agree. It’s OK to be first.
Related: Time, space, time together