June 17, 2013
Clashing with Others
"Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. On the lips of him who has understanding, wisdom is found..." Proverbs 10:12-13a (ESV)
My husband and I often joke about what would have happened in our college-courting days if we had sent our profiles to an online match-making website. We are pretty sure that instead of pairing us, the computer screen would have blinked DO NOT DATE!! TOTALLY NOT COMPATIBLE!
We're a lot like the two candlestick holders on the dresser in our bedroom. While both are crafted from solid brass with similar round bases, the rest of each holder couldn't be more different.
One is straight and streamlined, more functional than fancy. That candlestick holder has tall, strong lines. The second is designed with a touch of flair. It has two strands of brass that whirl and swirl from top to bottom in a "look at me" manner.
I found the candlesticks at different yard sales. While their styles aren't the same, somehow this eclectic pair is an interesting match. And more importantly, they're a visual reminder to my husband and me of our marriage.
My husband is the first candlestick. No frills. Straight-forward. Only about function. I am the second one. Crazy. All over the map. All about fun. While we both are "forged from brass" in that we are followers of Christ with the same spiritual foundation, pair our opposite-ends-of-the-spectrum personalities together and disaster could ensue.
Beyond the normal male/female differences, we have a lot in our personalities that cause friction and sometimes (mostly from me) snapping and harsh words.
Mismatched personalities in marriage, parenting or in work or friendship situations, can cause frustration, anger and at times, wounded feelings.
Someone who is not wired as we are, does not think like we do and who makes decisions and carries out actions we would never dream of, can rub us the wrong way. It causes our feathers to ruffle and not-so-nice thoughts enter our brains.
Usually, if dealing with a non-family member, we manage to keep our composure and tame our tongues to avoid saying anything we might regret. With our children or spouses however, sometimes we open the floodgates and spew cutting comments, nasty words, criticisms and awful accusations. My husband and I call it "throwing flesh balls." At that point, we no longer "walk by the Spirit" but "gratify the desires of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16 NIV).
If I allow it, my flesh likes to be satisfied and nothing satisfies it more than a good ol' verbal assault on my thinks-and-acts-so-differently-from-me husband.
There's a different way God calls me to respond though. Proverbs 10:12-13a provides direction for how we should handle conflicts that arise from trying to mesh two differing personality types. "Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. On the lips of him who has understanding, wisdom is found ..." (ESV).
Love is key to wise responses in a relationship. Because we love God, and others, we should seek to understand when we clash. And ask God for wisdom when we don't understand. We should love intentionally. Not necessarily in an "ushy-gushy, touchy-feely" way, but in an "I am going to choose to react gently and behave kindly because that is what God is asking me to do" sort of way.
Cementing this thinking in our minds will help us to respond with God's love and biblical truth. Especially when faced with someone who thinks and acts differently than us.
Will you join me in purposing to stop stirring up strife when it comes to someone in your life? And to choose to love and understand them? Especially when they are oil while you are water. Yes, even your spouse.
Dear Lord, grant me the ability to speak kindly, respond gently and at times, to hold my tongue. I want my actions and reactions to please and reflect You and Your love. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Dig into a Bible study that will help better your relationship with God and others. Visit Karen Ehman's blog for a chance to win one of three copies of the small group DVD curriculum of her latest book LET. IT. GO. How to Stop Running the Show & Start Walking in Faith.
Need help interacting with your family without having a rotten attitude or hurling harsh words? Sign up for Karen's free 5-Day Pause Before You Pounce Challenge, which offers inspirational and practical devotions. Click here for details.
Reflect and Respond:
What is the driving force behind your words when you spew anger? Wanting to be right or to be heard? Anger, selfishness, or pride? Take time to formulate a loving, understanding, and godly reaction for the next time you clash with someone.
Proverbs 15:1, "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." (ESV)
John 13:34-35, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (NIV)
© 2013 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.
Originally published Monday, 17 June 2013.