Proverbs 12:18 says, “There is one who’s rash words are like sward thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
I have a difficult time holding back my words.
I wear my heart on my sleeve and easily share with others what I am thinking. This can be helpful when I am in group situations or getting to know a new friend. I have found that words of affirmation truly can bring healing. Wise and loving words can bridge gaps, heal wounded hearts, and improve intimacy. A kind word can make someone’s day. But sometimes I feel angry and those words tend to spill out just as easily. It takes a tremendous effort for me to hold my tongue when I feel upset. According to Proverbs, I think that makes me foolish. Being angry is not wrong. God created our emotions. It’s how I treat others when I feel angry that matters. I am actively working on this in my life. I may feel angry at my husband, but I don’t need to unleash mean words. Yesterday I wasn’t so successful.
I just spent a few minutes with some friends at our homeschooling co-op. I told them I was trying to complete a blog post on marriage, but felt a bit lacking because had been angry the day before, and kind of wanted to shake my husband, not hug him. Aren’t I supposed to be sharing our beautiful moments that glorify God? I was struggling with what to write when I didn’t feel all starry-eyed and in love. I felt edgy and grouchy. My friends reminded me that I was writing about real life, and told me to share just that. After all, this site is called Nitty Gritty Love. Far be it from me to trick you into thinking we are a picture of marital bliss. And I want point out that working through the tough days and sticking with it, does glorify God. Not only that, God can handle His own reputation and thankfully does not need ME to help Him out.
Yesterday, my husband brought me coffee after I finished tutoring. I was so happy he thought of me and I told him he was the best thing ever. We began talking and out of nowhere some friction arose over the kids’ schedules. It was normal marriage stuff, but we exchanged some biting words both got defensive. I found myself getting frustrated pretty quickly. As he walked away, I saw him slightly shake his head. For some reason, I found this incredibly aggravating.
Even though just a few moments before I felt like kissing his face, I now wanted to pinch it.
How can emotions change so quickly? I hollered a few harsh words as he walked across the parking lot and walked off. I instantly felt the weight of it, and regretted my rashness. Sadly, we can’t lasso our words and drag them back after they are spoken. All of those wise verses in Proverbs came to mind as I stood there dealing with my anger. But instead of apologizing, I sent a few texts, telling how mad I was and what I thought. The thing is, my words didn’t really match what I truly thought, I was just angry. I only created more damage by what I said.
A friend recently told me a story of a father who instructed his son to pound a nail into a piece of wood each time he lost his temper. The boy did this until the wood was covered. After a while his father told him to remove the nails. One by one, the boy pulled the nails out, but the holes left behind were still visible. That is such a good picture to keep in mind before I sling arrows with my tongue. When someone hurts me, my first reaction is to lash out and hold them responsible for their actions. As God walks me through sanctification, my prayer is that I would learn to let go of offenses, and pursue reconciliation and kindness instead.
There are many important things we can do in our marriages as we love each other in spite of our humanity and brokenness.
If we can repent and forgive, it doesn’t matter how different we are, we find closeness. Communication is important, but we can communicate ourselves right into a corner. Forgiveness is emotionally costly, and can feel a lot like voluntary suffering. It takes a lot off effort and maybe a lot of tears. But we are called to repair tattered relationships. Instead of hoping our spouses feel some of the pain they have inflicted on us, we can pray for their growth. Forgiveness deepens our character and makes us more empathetic. It frees us. It allows us to talk with our spouses and love them, instead of becoming bitter and resentful.
My husband called me a few hours after our disagreement. He told me he was sorry. I told him I was also sorry. The only word I can use to describe how I felt after that was, joy. It feels good to forgive and be forgiven. It brings life into any relationship. Forgiveness is the best starting point I can think of. It’s what gave us salvation. We can’t erase wrongdoing, but we can choose to cancel debts against our spouse. To keep in mind the end goal; a warm and loving relationship. (And don’t pinch his face.)
Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:13-14)
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[Photo Credit: Sean McDevitt]