The girl who played with fire
By Leslie J. Barner
While living in California, I once stood outside my home and watched as a wildfire stalked my neighborhood, flames licking the perimeter. It was terrifying.
What amazes me is it only takes a spark to awaken one.
I watched this unfold in real time once as a woman viciously berated her husband in public. His pain and embarrassment were palpable; he looked like he wanted to disappear.
Those scorching words set ablaze an inferno fanned over years, eventually causing the death of their marriage and the destruction of their family. From that couple’s story, I learned a lot about the dangers of using my tongue irresponsibly.
Have I ever said things I shouldn’t have? Yep! Or hurt my husband’s feelings with my words? Unfortunately, I have.
But one thing I hope to resist at all costs is embarrassing Aubrey in public.
Proverbs 18:21 says, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue." This truth is both a caution and an encouragement about how I should speak to my husband—publicly and privately—to build him up, not tear him down.
Of course, we won’t always do this perfectly. So make it right by apologizing (maybe even publicly, depending on the situation), and be willing to forgive when a spouse has blown it.
We can choose to protect “Team Us” rather than our own feelings by resolving our issues privately—no matter how much we dislike what our spouse is doing or saying.
Fire isn’t all bad. Controlled fires, like kind, encouraging, supportive words, are life giving and warm the heart. Wildfires only break hearts. We can choose which type of fire we will stoke.
The good stuff: Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29)
Action points: If there has been a time when you’ve said or done something publicly that hurt or embarrassed your spouse, confess it now and ask your spouse to forgive you. Ask God to help you in finding forgiveness if you have been the one hurt or embarrassed.
Then make a commitment together to protect each other—and your marriage—by watching what you say to or about each other in public, and by handling conflict and disagreements in private.
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