I had been dropping not so subtle hints to my spouse for days that something he was doing was bothering me. It is probably because my hints weren't so subtle that he ignored them. I was torn. I didn't want to come right out and tell him to stop what he was doing. I didn't want to be bossy, demanding or come across as if I were judging him. But I was irritated. I had been praying that God would just reveal to his heart that he should stop what he was doing without my saying anything at all. Yet after several days and no thunderbolts to his heart from God, my patience was wearing thin and the not so subtle hints began.
My husband and I rarely fight. We have had seasons in our marriage where that was not the case, but for the most part we see eye to eye. We may take completely different paths to the same conclusion, but the conclusion itself is normally not in question. Over time we have grown to respect and appreciate the differences in the paths that we take. I should also add that because we can respect each other in this way that our children are much more flexible to do the same thing in different ways depending on whether my husband or I are leading.
On Saturday I decided to take the direct route. To just logically and factually tell my husband what was bothering me. Nine out of ten times, as long as my tone is conversational or he is able to see my heart and not my emotion in the conversation, this route works beautifully. However, I knew before I began that this was that one in ten times that it wouldn't matter what tone I stated it in. In hindsight, I can see that because I knew that it was the one in ten that I should have been more willing to let God do the leading instead of my impatience. I will say that we did not go to bed angry - which is a good rule to live by, but it wasn't a pretty evening.
Wouldn't you know it, Sunday's message at church was titled, "Strength from your Speech." Our church is doing a "Huddle Up" football themed series right now and Pastor Jay's message was all about how words can either tear you down or build you up. One of Pastor Jay's quotes was, "Teams fall apart when the little criticisms begin." (You can hear the "Huddle Up" Series at www.horizonschurch.com then click media) God clearly got his point across to both my husband and me.
The power of the tongue is mentioned several times in Scripture. "Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof." Proverbs 18:21. I loved how Tim Lahaye and Jerry Jenkins wrote the "Glorious Appearing" from their "Left Behind" Series. I had always pictured the final battle between God and Satan as a physical battle. White horse and rider in hand to hand combat with the black horse and rider imagery. But in the "Glorious Appearing," Lahaye & Jenkins had God's words mortally wounding the enemy. He was not having to physically strike. He would speak destruction to his enemy and the blows were tremendous. It was a powerful picture to me of how seriously God takes the words that come out of our mouths. "But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment." Matthew 12:36
The tongue has the power of death, but it also has the power of life. I Thessalonians 5:11 "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up..." Most of the time the words that come out of our mouths are formed by what we are allowing ourselves to spend time thinking about. This past week, I spent way too much time allowing myself to dwell on negative things. In Deuteronomy 30:19 Moses is challenging the children of Israel to renew their covenant with God and he says, "I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life." We have to choose to keep our thoughts and words positive and uplifting. It will mean life or death to our marriages. Think about the words that you have spoken to your spouse today. If their life depended on your words alone, how would they be doing?
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