By Lisa Lakey
Early in our marriage, my husband commented to me, “I can’t seem to win an argument with you. It’s frustrating.”
As competitive as I am, I can’t say I was “winning” in that moment.
Because rather than saying what I knew would defuse the situation with my husband, I more often detonated our arguments with sarcasm or seething criticism. If I had a label, it would read “HIGHLY FLAMMABLE.”
And I only left him feeling burned.
Paul told the Ephesian church to “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).
I often feel Paul wrote this directly to me. It’s sobering to calculate how many of my words to my husband have fit into the “corrupting talk” category. I often forget to guard my tongue, spacing on the impact of my words. I’d guess it’s a little like tossing a grenade over my shoulder and walking away.
Funny thing, though: My words could actually serve to construct something—building the people around me—rather than reducing to shrapnel. In fact, they can have a domino effect, setting the constructive tone for the environment I want to create ... or vice versa.
Thankfully, God’s message to me isn’t just to get my act together. It’s the Holy Spirit who renews me, taming my heart (and all the true reasons beneath my anger), followed by my tongue, when I’m willing.
The good stuff: A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1)
Action points: Matthew is clear that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). When you’re honest, what lies beneath that sarcasm, snark, or passive aggression? If you mess up in this area, don’t be afraid to say, “You know what, that was really __ of me. Would you please forgive me?” Or “Can I rephrase that? Because I do care about you.”
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