Jump Start # 2888
Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
A marriage was unraveling. It was taking place right before me. I was in a store having some service done. The owner was on the phone. His door was open. While I was sitting in the waiting room, I heard. I heard too much. I heard more than I wanted to hear. He was mad. He was cussing. He was yelling. Ugly names were being called. He referred to his lawyer and then her lawyer. I quickly got the picture. He was talking to his wife. They were in the process of getting a divorce. And, it wasn’t going to be a sweet parting of the ways. The daggers were out. He ended the conversation. I expected to see smoke billowing out of this office. The phone rang again. He said, “I was just talking to stupid.”
I don’t know the story or the pain, but the anger was real. When he stormed out of the office, I looked down at my phone. I was afraid that he was going to turn on me if I said anything. There is a time to speak and a time to be silent, the wise man told us. That was a time to be silent. It’s hard to talk and harder still to reason with someone who is angry. Let things cool down.
How do we allow our relationships to sink like that? There was a time I expect when he truly loved his wife. They had a wedding. The “I dos” were repeated. A home was bought. But instead of living happily ever after, for them, it came to a screeching halt. Name calling. Cuss words. Shouting. Referring to one as “stupid.”
Some lessons I saw:
First, a person must be careful about what is said when others are around. What took place certainly wasn’t very professional. I expect in some homes, children are witnesses to the ugly things we adults say. And, what is said, doesn’t have to be cussing or even against each other. The trash talking of the church, the shepherds, the preachers, before little ears leaves a lasting impression. What we say about other family members can be heard and damage can result from that. There is a time and a place to say things. Going out the church door on Sunday morning, with a crowd behind you, is not the time nor the place to air your complaints.
It is often hard to recover after we have verbally chewed someone out. It’s like squeezing all the toothpaste out of a tube. It sure does come out fast and easy. But once it’s out, it’s nearly impossible to put back in. So are our words. James tells us to be quick to hear and slow to speak. It seems these days that we do just the opposite. We are fast on the draw when it comes to sharing our opinion or our feelings, but we are slow as a turtle when it comes to listening. Some never do listen. All they do is talk.
Second, relationships rarely stay in the same place. They move. They move forward or they move backward. They move to a better place or they move to a dangerous place. Often they move, much like a boat that is drifting, and we hardly notice, until it’s dangerously close to going over a waterfall. The more good we put in a relationship, the more it will move to a better place. However, the more we ignore a relationship and the more we pour negative and ugly attitudes into it, the more it will likely crash on the rocks or go over a waterfall.
All relationships are like this. This is true in a marriage. This is true between parent and child. This is true among friends. This is true with God. Relationships move. We move with them. We move to good places or we move to terrible places.
I can tell you the man on the phone didn’t just explode out of no reason. Things go south for a long time. Poor choices and indifference and neglect drive out love. Then one day something triggers all of these emotions and the kettle explodes. It’s been coming. It’s not been dealt with. And, it gets to a point that getting out of a relationship seems to be the only option.
Third, disciples of Jesus must do better. Grace and forgiveness must be part of the foundation that we build our homes upon. Trust, love, and the Lord must go beyond the wedding ceremony to everyday living. Without a foundation in the Lord and a commitment to His word, all a person has is his own feelings. And, when those feelings have been trashed, there remains no other reason to stay in that relationship.
Speak kindly, even when you are upset. Get ahold of your emotions. Don’t let them take over and steer your mind and your decisions. Pray. Seek godly counsel. Put the Lord first. Take a breath and think things through. Anger won’t bring you positive results. Much too often, anger only makes things worse. Don’t wait until you see the waterfall before you start thinking of what actions you ought to take.
Death and life are in words—use them wisely.