By Sarah Logan, Contributing Writer
I write this with a shrinking feeling of guilt hanging over my head. ‘What right have you to say anything on this matter?’ my conscience whispers. ‘You, of all people, who fail so regularly to communicate with grace, tenderness and love have no place to suggest to others how to communicate…’ And yet here I am writing.
My excuse is that communication has been a hot-button issue in our marriage – and continues to be – and so, instead of offering what I might have to say on the subject I am going to imagine what my husband would wish I would say – or more accurately, what he wishes I would practice.
So here I am, sharing this with the world and you are all free to hold me accountable since my words can do so much damage, and I’d like for that nasty side of me to be put to rest. So I write from a spirit of humble recognition that I am not one to talk — I do not sail the seas of blissful communicative peace. But I’d like to. Really. I would.
Just about every one of our heated discussions ends up on this one rabbit trail: how my words are hurtful and harsh. Ouch. They are, I must admit. Let me say a word to the women here: biting, sarcastic, nasty, harsh, hurtful words are most un-beautifying to you. Now, I’ve never been one to cherish a glamorous look or be super fussy over my hairdo, but just in case you are, be reminded that your words also adorn you. Your latest bling can look tarnished and gaudy when coupled with a biting tone.
I am realizing more and more as I hear my own voice ringing in my ears and the words aren’t pretty – that in my frustration I end up looking and sounding like a crabby old lady. And I’m not that old, and I really shouldn’t be that crabby. Crabbiness comes from fatigue, control issues and discontent. Crabbiness spills over into words that destroy, tear-down and weary those around you.
One time when we were having a family vacation in Zambia/Zimbabwe we noticed a sound coming from the kitchen in the cabin we were renting. Upon investigation we noted a baboon had come in and was stealing our precious goodies we had reserved for deserts en route! We quickly slammed the door shut and were faced with a further dilemma of how to free the angry baboon from the kitchen without getting injured in the process. Who wants to deal with a trapped, nasty, screeching, mad baboon? Anyone? Anyone? What does this have to do with our topic of communication? Well, I often feel like that Baboon.
I am mad about my rights (perceived or otherwise!) being trampled. I am trapped and become furious. My words spill out without reserve. If I were as spry as a baboon I’d zip from wall to counter to floor to table in rage. And perhaps the sounds emanating from my vocal chords could be likened to the screeching baboon. I tell you this story to give you a mental image of what anger unleashed looks and sounds like: most unpleasant and unbecoming. (It all ended well when one brave soul ran outside and opened the door and went running for her life!)
“For as churning cream produces butter, and as twisting the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife.” Proverbs 30:33 (NIV)
I forget that my words have power to heal – and to display grace. I, who love grace and the freedom and joy it brings – I, who revel in the grace God has bestowed on me, undeserving as I am – I, who think I have some grasp on its meaning – fail to show this very same grace that I so freely receive from the hand of God- I fail to show it in my words. Do your words add to or detract from the spirit of grace in your marriage? Too often my words wound and are contrary to the gentle and quiet spirit so commended in Scripture.
“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18
Return tomorrow for Part 2 of Loving and Communicating – Hand in hand!