Written by Doug Apple, Wave94 Sunday, 20 February 2011 08:05
Jennifer and Jeff had a beautiful wedding.
All the family was there, tossing bird seed as the newlyweds departed in a white, horse-drawn carriage trimmed with red roses.
An idyllic scene, right? Until you look inside the carriage.
“You’re sitting on my dress!”
“What are you all snippy about?”
“Get off my dress, you’re smooshing it.”
“Wow, we just got married and you’re already a nag.”
“We just got married and you’re already a pig.”
Fortunately they kissed and made up and life went on…something like this.
Jennifer comes home from a hard day at work and finds Jeff absorbed in a video game. There is a huge slice of pepperoni pizza hanging over the side of a paper plate sitting on the carpet.
She says hello but he is completely caught up in the game. She steps into the kitchen and finds a pizza box balanced on top of a full garbage can. And there’s his oatmeal bowl from breakfast, unrinsed in the sink.
She steps back into the living room and says, “You’re a moron!”
Just then his man dies and he looks up at her. “What?”
“You heard me. I can’t come home to this mess every day.”
“Wow, you’re cranky…as usual.”
“If I’m a crank it’s because you’re a jerk. You never take out the trash and you never rinse your bowl.”
“Never? I ‘never’ take out the trash? And I didn’t rinse the bowl because I was running late because you hogged up the bathroom all morning. Can’t you just go without all that makeup? You’re sister doesn’t wear all that makeup and she looks great.”
“My sister looks great? Well look at you, Romeo, with pizza grease all over your shirt. You eat like a child.”
Okay, let’s stop right here.
Does any of this sound familiar? Have you ever had conversations like this, that just swirled out of control?
What happens is one person says something with a point in it, and the other person reacts to that sharp point with something pointed of their own. The first person reacts to that point, and off they go. It escalates from one jab to the next – and what on earth are they talking about? What are they really trying to communicate?
This is a common mistake in immature relationships. We react to the pointed statement rather than the real meaning.
For example, when the wife came home to a mess and called her husband a name, what was she really trying to communicate?
What she was really saying was, “I’m frustrated to come home to a mess after a long day at work.” Instead of saying that, though, she said something with a sharp point. In fact, their whole conversation was basically a reaction to sharp points.
It is so easy for conversations to get out of hand and become hurtful, and it is so unnecessary. Divorce courts are full of people whose main problems are toxic conversations.
People quit jobs or get fired from jobs for conversations like this. Friendships are destroyed. Families are broken, but there is a solution. There’s a simple cure that can put an end to these downward spiraling conversations.
When someone speaks to you, don’t react to any pointed words. Those words rarely represent what’s really going on, so skip over them. Think right past them. Just let them fall to the floor as you step back and see what’s really going on.
“But Doug, those words hurt. I must react to them.”
Well I say forgive…instantly. You have to forgive anyway, so why not forgive instantly?
You want to defend yourself from sharp words, right? You can do that by firing sharp words back, but it’s better to defend yourself with instant forgiveness. Instant forgiveness causes their sharp words to drop to the floor without hurting you, and that sets you free to step back and assess what is really going on.
For example, when Jeff sat on Jennifer’s dress, she reacted, and he verbally punched her. What he should have done was forgive her instantly, then think, “What is really going on here?”
He would have seen that it was nothing personal. She wasn’t trying to hurt him, it was just a poorly worded way of expressing dissatisfaction. Then he would have had the presence of mind to simply say, “Oh, I’m sorry,” move off her dress and get back to enjoying the honeymoon.
Colossians 4:6 says that our conversation should be full of grace so that we can always give a right response to everyone.
To give a right response, we need to know what’s really going on. And to know what’s going on, we have to look past the pointed words to see the big picture.
That will stop the endless volleys of pointed, hurtful words.
It will stop most arguments before they even begin, and many relationships will be saved in the process.
E-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
May God bless you today! With Apples of Gold…I’m Doug Apple.
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