Reality Check

A dog food company hit some hard times. Sales were low and the CEO tried everything he could think of to improve the bottom line. He hired a new advertising firm, but that didn’t help. Next, he fired his entire marketing department and hired a new team.

After several months, however, nothing changed. Sales numbers were still way down.

More months went by and finally, during a staff meeting, a young, somewhat quiet manager courageously ventured, “What if the reason we aren’t selling more dog food is because dogs don’t like it?”

This was a reality that hadn’t been considered before—and it was quite the reality check! As someone once said, the only thing they missed was the boat!

Whether it is a business venture or in a relationship, one key for success is to understand and live with reality. In his book, “Integrity” Dr. Henry Cloud explains that, “Reality is always your friend.” Why is it easy to forget this?

Dr. Cloud goes on to state, “Marriages that do well, for example, have partners who are constantly seeking out the reality of where the other person is.” This fact has helped Deb and me in our marriage. Deb has always been good at this, but it didn’t happen as naturally for me.

Though I had some great examples in my life, I wasn’t very good at “seeking out the reality” early in our marriage. Deb reminded me recently about the time she had two wisdom teeth pulled. She wasn’t feeling too well during the day and it was all she could do to rest and care for our two young children. “Ultra-sensitive Bob” casually asked her in the late afternoon, “What are you fixing for dinner tonight?” I wasn’t thinking of her reality. Put bluntly, I was being a selfish jerk.

Hopefully, her patience and prayers are paying off as I believe I’ve made some improvement over the years. I learned from studying Ephesians 5 that I am to unselfishly love my wife and to nourish and cherish her. Understanding the reality of her life -her goals and dreams; how she is doing physically, spiritually, emotionally- helps me love and serve her better and better. It is a joy to make her reality my reality!

The Living Bible states Proverbs 24: 3-4 this way, “Any enterprise is built by wise planning, becomes strong through common sense, and profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts.” Seeking out, understanding, and living in light of others’ reality is profitable for any enterprise. It’s hard to set aside our own thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors to better empathize with others, but the work is worth it.

Even better is to seek after God’s reality and to strive to live accordingly.

How can you live in such a way as to understand situations from another’s point of view? How is your own way of seeing the world interpreting God’s reality?

Bob Reusser directs the Nav Encore Mission of The Navigators. You can learn more about his ministry here.

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