“Never trust your tongue when your heart is bitter”
I came across this quote some months ago and it has stuck with me. Mostly because before I even heard it, I have been of those women who has to be careful with with my words whenever I am angry. I am a lover of words – long-winded, an attorney by trade and a writer by passion. In heated or emotional exchanges with people I care about, I rather stay silent than utter a foolish word that will do more harm to our ability to love one another down the road. I do best when I have had time to process my feelings, perhaps write them out before expressing them outloud to another person. My temperament is the same in marriage. My husband means the world to me. His pursuit of me modeled Christ to me in a very unique way. My goal is never to damage his heart or his spirit with careless words. I want to remain his biggest cheerleader and closest confidant. I cannot do that if I am spewing venom from my lips whenever we disagree or he fails to measure up to the unreasonable image of perfection inside my head.
Recently, my husband made a casual remark during one of our exchanges that hurt my feelings, deeply. It literally stopped me in my tracks. I had to get out of the house to keep from retaliating in flesh. As I was going about my day, taking our son to his doctor’s appointment and running other errands, the remark would replay in my head and I would cry silent tears of frustration. In my distress I reached out to two people, my younger sister who was also married in Christ and full of wisdom and my mentor who has been counseling me for the past seven years since I came to the Lord.
Both women listened to me, encouraged me, calmed my worries and prayed with me. They both pushed me gently but firmly towards keeping the peace in my home and having a Christ-focused response. My mentor, however, said something that has stuck with me since our conversation. “You are a very sweet wife; I know you love your husband. Do not let the enemy steal your sweetness!”
The advice was simple but profound. It affected me in surprising ways. Immediately I reflected on our first few weeks and first year of marriage – the pleasure I use to take in doing daily simple tasks for my love such as ironing his work clothes or preparing a special lunch for him while he rested before work. I did these things joyfully because my heart was bent on serving my husband and appreciating him for the million ways he loves and cares for me daily. Somehow as life has gotten busier and we became parents, some of those beloved traditions went the way of cherished but forgotten memories. Even if I did not have the same amount of free time as I did as a brand new wife, was my heart towards my husband still tender? Was I the same woman in spirit and demeanor who found any and all reasons to appreciate his efforts in our home? Were my words towards him seasoned with grace as they had been in that first blissful year of marriage? Upon close examination I realized that my conversations with my husband lately were centered on asking him to do things for me or complaining about all I am tasked (graced?) to do in our marriage. I could not remember the last time I appreciated my husband’s efforts or spoke words of encouragement to him after he worked 12 hours overnight on four hours of sleep.
Thanks to my mentor’s gracious reminder I am determined to stay “sweet” in all the ways that matter to my husband. I have encountered so many wives who have been disillusioned by years of disappointing behavior by their husbands. Hurtful words and deep betrayals big and small have stolen the joy from their homes and naturally resulted in bitterness. I do not want to be an embittered wife. I have a vision clearly planted in front of me of the type of wife and helpmeet I wanted to be to my love when we exchanged our vows. Anything that turns that vision on its head, I have to actively fight against.
No matter how valid my complaints or how genuine my weariness, there is grace available to be a loving and respectful wife to my husband. I will fight for my sweetness by uprooting bitterness out of my heart daily. I will fight for my sweetness by choosing to love unconditionally even when I do not feel loved in the moment. I will fight for my sweetness by building my household up in prayer and finding joy once again in the simple tasks I am graced and privileged to do daily. Lastly I will fight for my sweetness by agreeing with my husband over the vision that God has given him for our family and being his biggest supporter rather than a constant adversary.
Keep me in prayer as I fight this good fight of faith.
Yours in Christ,