by Debora M. Coty @DeboraCoty
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1 NASB
I love my man, Chuck. I do. But sometimes he baffles me.
Like the time he noticed the philodendron in my flowerbed had grown so big it blocked the sprinkler. So Chuck, with his logical, fix-it left brain, hacked it off at its base. He’d somehow missed that the whole point of the sprinkler was to grow the plant big.
Now you have to understand that the flowerbeds are my domain. I carefully nurture every plant, talking and sometimes even singing to them. Don’t laugh. They’re my little green babies. So imagine my horror when I found my gorgeous six-foot philodendron stretched out like a dead body beside the garbage can.
I was so devastated I could barely breathe. I turned to stare at the gaping hole in the row of seven enormous, wondrously healthy philodendrons I had planted and lovingly coaxed to adulthood during the past three years. The one in the middle was missing like a six-year-old’s front tooth. The one by the sprinkler head.
I wept. Then I got mad. I was ready to blast the cold-blooded murderer.
But then I remembered the funeral I’d recently attended, during the heart-melting eulogy, the husband of the deceased praised the way she’d held their marriage together for 58 years and said in a grief-choked voice, “She never looked down on me in all those years – she always looked up at me in respect …even when I didn’t deserve it.”
Whoa. Those words hit me hard. I was so convicted about criticizing my husband – sometimes in my own mind, sometimes out loud – that I vowed to try harder to curb my sharp critique tendencies. My husband didn’t need a finger wagging in his face; he needed respect.
“Lord,” I prayed, “help me understand, not criticize him. I know he was only trying to help. Glue my mouth shut. Morph my wrath into gentleness. Help me appreciate, not blast him.”
So as hard as it was, I swallowed my harsh words. And recited my verse of the month: “Keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble” (Proverbs 21:23 NLT).
Later that afternoon, I went back out to the flowerbed to attempt some damage control. To my surprise, there in the gap next to the stark green stump, stood my listing, drooping philodendron. Chuck had dug a hole and tried to replant the poor rootless thing. He’d even watered it.
I burst into tears again, but this time they were warm tears of gratitude mingled with salty tears of joy. Oh, I knew there was no hope for the philodendron, but the point was that by me not blowing up and instead allowing the Holy Spirit to calm me down, what could have been a marital Mt. Vesuvius … wasn’t.
And because of the Helper’s intervention, Chuck got it. Without feeling criticized or belittled, he got that he’d unwittingly broken my heart and was doing his best to redeem the situation. How can you not love a guy like that?
These days, a rocky marriage is far more common than a marriage that rocks. Discerning intent is crucial when we’re tempted to blast Spouse for something he did that we found hurtful. Perhaps the results of his action turned out badly, but what was his true intention?
Replacing harsh words with gentleness is not something that comes naturally to most of us. Sometimes we need a glue stick instead of lipstick. Thankfully the Lord of rage diffusion is well-stocked.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8 NIV)
About the author: Debora Coty lives, loves and laughs in central Florida with her longsuffering husband, Chuck, two grown children and four energetic grandbuddies. Debora is a popular speaker and award-winning author of over 40 inspirational books, including the bestselling Too Blessed to be Stressed series. Join Deb’s fun-loving community of BFFs (Blessed Friends Forever) at www.DeboraCoty.com.
Debora’s newest release is Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms addresses the heart needs of moms drowning in the churning stress-pool of busyness. In her beloved mom-to-mom, grin-provoking style, Coty offers empathy, laughs, real-life stories, practical parenting survival tips, and fresh biblical insights to help you hear Papa God’s still, small voice through life’s chaos.
Join the conversation: When was the last time the Holy Spirit prompted you to keep your mouth closed?