Slow to Speak


If you are a wife, chances are at some point in your marriage you've felt the bubbling up of emotions over something your husband should or shouldn't have done.  Your expectations weren't met, and suddenly your knowledge of a man's responsibility for biblical leadership becomes as sharp as a tack.  In the heat of the moment, your mind rapidly fires off reasons why your are justified to offer immediate correction, pointing out your husband's missteps.  The hot water inside you continues bubbling, and for a moment you sense that this might not be a productive time to have a conversation.  Instead of being slow to speak, the heat of your passion pushes your right past the quiet warning.  Your tongue lashes words that you would claim are spoken in the name of truth, but instead come out intending to inflict damage.  After you have already spoken, you wait for your words to do their work...to sink in, convict,  rebuke, and make your husband see the error of his ways.  But, something surprising happens... he shuts down or maybe, he even lashes back. What you originally meant as a correction hasn't resolved anything, and you might even be left wondering if things could have gone better had you controlled the bubbling passion, holding off for the right timing.

Now, imagine a different situation where your husband has not met your expectations.  Maybe he really is doing something which requires your rebuke and correction and you know it's ultimately good for him to be confronted about the issue.  You feel the temptation to let your blood boil and to resolve this misstep immediately through the use of your words.  You are convinced that you are justified by so many biblical principles, but instead of speaking, you pause and wait.  You choose to let time pass and to show mercy in the moment, trusting that if God wants you to say something, he will show you when and how to say it.  It feels like moments and days and maybe even months pass as you pray for your husband about this issue and how God might have you approach it.  You listen carefully for opportunities to talk to him about it, and selectively pass when the holy spirit whispers, "not now."  Then one day, in your waiting, the right moment presents itself because God has worked behind the scenes in your husband's heart to receive a hard word of truth.  Now, in the RIGHT timing, God gives you the words, tone of voice, and heart attitude to share what your husband has been prepared to hear... and something miraculous happens.  Your husband doesn't respond in anger or shut down, but instead he acknowledges and considers your words, and even allows himself to be changed by them.  And the best thing is, you know that it was by God's work that he was changed and your faith grows as you give Him the glory.

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I did a lot of the first example until someone challenged me to stop letting myself be controlled by my emotions and start being controlled by the spirit.  This person challenged me to view God as the one who changes my husband and to view myself as simply a tool in that work to be used at His direction (not my own).  They challenged me to consider that my words, unfiltered by God's grace, could cause piercing damage to my husband and my marriage.  With God's help, I made a choice to stop speaking in the heat of the moment and start listening for God's leading.

Yes, this means that I don't always get the last word and I don't always speak the same day an offense is committed.  Sometimes even months go by without any sign of change before I see evidence of God's work and feel led by the holy spirit to share. This type of waiting and faith and giving up control can be difficult.

But by God's help and strength, I can choose to wait for the RIGHT timing instead of my own (and it's had some fairly good results)...
  • I have earned my husbands listening ear.  When I correct, which isn't very often, I know that he actually hears me.
  • I have seen my husband's heart change in big ways as I've offered to be his help and support instead of his mini holy spirit.
  • I have seen my husband connect more with our marriage and our family because he feels safe with me when I don't seek to belittle him or start arguments.
  • My heart has softened towards my husband as I further realize we are on the same team and my job is to love him freely with no contingencies or agenda to make him into a different person.
Just as someone once challenged me to make this massive shift in the way I approach my husband, I want to challenge you.  Next time you feel the bubbles of anger, pride, and justification rise in you...STOP and PRAY.  You can always come back and say something later, but you can never unsay what is spoken in a moment of passion.

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