A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. (Proverbs 15:1 NLT)
Have you ever been out to dinner with a couple who spend the entire evening throwing verbal barbs at each other? Makes for a fun night, doesn’t it? The tension in the air is so thick you can cut it with a knife and everyone within ear-shot of the sparing pair is affected by the strife.
I have vivid memories of a particularly gruesome New Year’s Eve dinner with a notorious couple, whose reputation for verbal warfare preceded them. I don’t know why I thought they’d behave differently that night- perhaps I hoped on such a festive evening they’d be on their best behavior. They were well aware that my husband and I are a peace-loving couple. Never will I make that mistake again.
From the moment we set foot in the restaurant, the assault began.
“Why did you wear those ridiculous pants with that shirt? Hello? Are you color blind?”
“It’s none of your business what I wear! What are you, my mother?”
“If I was your mother I would have stayed home tonight. Why would I want to go anywhere with you dressed like that?”
Jim and I glanced at each other, knowing this was sure to be an interesting evening.
“I thought I told you never to bring me to this restaurant again! What are you stupid, or is it early Alzheimer’s?”
“I can only hope it’s early Alzheimer’s, so I can forget that I ever married you.”
And on it went throughout the evening. Jim and I sat in silent wonder as the dueling duo went at it. Every nasty remark brought a hateful response and I didn’t hear them say one kind thing to each other the entire time. When given the opportunity, Jim and I attempted to change the subject to something more pleasant and hopeful, but our efforts were largely ignored. In fact, the insults escalated to the point that we excused ourselves from the table and left before the midnight toast. I was scared their verbal battle was going to escalate into a physical assault before it was over.
By the time we got to our car, my stomach was in knots; I felt nauseous and had a splitting headache from the tension in my shoulders caused by their fighting. Talk about the power of your words.
I hate to admit it, but I’ve thrown my verbal barbs from time to time and I’ve discovered that when I speak words that wound, kill and destroy, these are commonly the words that come back to haunt me. Cruelty begets cruelty and anger begets anger. Wars have begun over a well-placed word and marriages have dissolved over a careless declaration.
Proverbs 18:21 has this to say about our words. Your tongue has the power of life and death. Those who love to talk will eat the fruit of their words. (NIRV) This verse should make us pause and think about the things we choose to say to those in our immediate circle. It’s not only what we say but how we say it.
I spent time counseling this couple, attempting to help them find a place of peace in their relationship where respect and love could be cultivated. When relationships are combative in nature, and negative expressions have become commonplace, it’s difficult to change the behaviors that have become deeply rooted in the union. The tone of voice, and the inflection used with the words spoken can just as easily damage a partnership.
“She knows I love her! Why do I have to be the one to compromise?”
“If he really cared about me, he’d be the one to change his attitude.”
It’s incredibly important to realize that not only the words we speak but the delivery of those words have the ability to heal or to undermine a situation.
It’s certainly not impossible to alter and renovate the learned behaviors, but both parties must desire the modification and both must want the relationship to begin again on more positive footing. If the changes are not motivated by love, they just won’t last.
Spoken words are irretrievable. Hurtful words leave indelible marks on our heart. Though apologies are made and forgiveness offered, the statements wound the spirit and can be carried the rest of our lives.
Why is it we are so quick to lash out at those closest to us in moments of frustration or insecurity? Probably because we feel most safe with those people. But wouldn’t it be wise for us to cherish them for the gifts they are to us, rather than to attack them? May God help us to set a guard on our mouths and to give careful thought to the words we utter in moments of exasperation.
I’m sorry to say the New Years Eve couple didn’t make it. They divorced not long ago, and went their separate ways. One can only hope they gained some insight as to the importance of the spoken word to either create or destroy life. In truth, our most intimate relationships depend on this knowledge and what we choose to do with it.
Wise words are more valuable than much gold and many rubies. (Proverbs 20:15 NLT)
- Tamra Nashman
- Florida, United States
- I'm a mother of two children, an inspirational and motivational Author and Minister. My greatest joy is to see people gain new insight and understanding about the amazing possibilities that life holds when we put put our faith to action. 'Shoes For The Spirit, is a book filled with real-life stories of people who have walked through great difficulty and have found the right pair of shoes for their personal journey. Whether or not you are a person of faith, there is something uplifting, guiding and compelling in this little book, for everyone. The accompanying CD, 'Songs For the Soul,' is a compliation of original orchestrated tunes, with voice-over verse layered on top of the music. This CD has great encouragement for all who take the time to listen. I hope all of you bloggers will read the new sequel to 'Shoes For The Spirit,' listed in the blog posts below, and if you're so inclined, will purchase my book and CD. You won't be sorry! Be blessed. Love, Tamra
- ▼ 2008 (11)