Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage: anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are. – Augustine of Hippo
Rather than store relational hurts – one at a time – in order to avoid conflict, it’s better to address them as they happen.
Paul writes in his letter to Ephesus:
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry … (4:25-26)
When you project to your spouse that everything is fine when it’s not, that’s falsehood. That’s lying. When you don’t say what hurts, you store those hurts. And if you store them, you’ll eventually dump them, and that’s uuuugly.
How do you stop the cycle? Write down this phrase: When I’m hurt, I will say it so I don’t store it and we can get past it.
It’s time to empty your gunnysacks. But listen, you didn’t fill that sack overnight, and it’s going to take sincere, God-directed effort to break the pattern. Start by making some time alone with God where the two of you can talk honestly. Here’s how:
Invite the Holy Spirit to guide you through the bag of hurts you’ve been carrying in this relationship. Empty those hurts before the Lord. Take inventory of each one and write it down. The most recent ones will be easy to remember, but the older hurts will take time and prayer.
Then take that list to Jesus – not your spouse. Ask Him to heal the hurt and then ask Him to enable you to forgive. Forgiveness means choosing to no longer hold it against the other person.
Finally, cross off the hurts that aren’t worth mentioning. Take what is left, sit down, and have a real conversation with your spouse. No dumping. Only talking. Leave defensive excuses on the sidelines. Seek forgiveness for your role in the conflict in your marriage, and pray together for healing and life to flood your relationship.
Once you have both taken time to empty your gunnysacks, make a promise to keep them empty. This means no more falsehood. When something happens and it hurts, agree to talk about it that day.
Say it. Don’t store it. Then there is nothing to carry and nothing to dump.
Jesus, I know words matter; they bring life or death to a relationship. What I don’t always understand is how to use them. I commit to unload my hurts before You this week. I invite Your wisdom to show me how to speak about them truthfully. Let me be slow to argue, eager to listen, and root my words in love. By faith, I believe this is possible. But without You, it’s impossible. I’m depending on You to do this, Lord. Amen.
Listen to Pete, Jill & Stuart Briscoe on the Telling the Truth broadcast at OnePlace.com
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