I chuckled when I saw this painting by one of my favorite artists, Norman Rockwell. Loved that man’s work ever since I saw some hanging at a HomeTown Buffet when I was younger. Anyways, I chuckled when I came across this one because it reminded me of Sungjin and me. hehe.
Sungjin claims we’re having a boy because I have such a rough attitude. He says, maybe if I had prettier thoughts or nicer tones we’d have a girl. I usually rebuttal with a, “I don’t have an attitude,” (with an attitude of course) and a, “There’s nothing wrong with my voice.” (We love that we’re having a boy, by the way.) But YES. I hate to admit it, but I know I have an attitude, I know I get angered easily, fight fire with fire, and wrath with wrath. What can I say? It’s my sin nature. My other excuses are usually, “I grew up with two brothers,” or “It’s the Stockton in me.” (Stockton- being one of the top 10 most dangerous cities in the U.S. Also, where I was raised for the 8 most developmental years of my life.)
Why am I bringing this up? Because. Because I realize how much it harms my relationships, be it with my husband (especially my husband), family, friends, students at work, and even surly strangers I’m really tempted to curse out sometimes in my comings and goings.
I recently listened to a message from Pastor Tim Dilena called, “The Soft is Hard.” I recommend it, even to those of you who still haven’t acknowledged that you, YES YOU, can use harsh words in conflicts and are, sorry to say, NEVER justified.
I now realize that every day, every conversation has the ability to become a hot mess depending on my response and attitude. As a participant in the conversation, I have the ability to either put out the fire with water, or enflame the fire with more oil. And as difficult as it is, I want to, I REALLY REALLY want to speak life and words like water to a thirsty or fiery soul.
But, sometimes I fail. (That’s an understatement.) I retaliate because I want to show the other person how strong I am. I remember getting into physical fights with my little brother. He’d hit me hard, but I’d just “take it like a man,” act like it didn’t even phase me, and hit him back. I didn’t want to give up or be nice because being gentle made me cowardly. Plus, I have a competitive spirit, so I just want to win.
Obviously, when you’re not in the heat of the moment, you know that gentleness is NOT cowardice. It’s actually EASIER to stoop down to the same level. It’s HARDER to show restraint and humility in conflicts. I know this in my head. Now, I’m challenged and determined to live it out. I must soften my heart… and my speech :P
My personal “take-away points”:
- These are my choices when I engage in difficult conversations:
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
- If I really want to win and punch someone (figuratively, of course) remember this:
“With patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue will break a bone.” Proverbs 25:15
- Remind myself –> Getting angry will NOT achieve anything good:
“Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-20
- The stronger thing to do is to imitate Christ, and entrust myself to God:
“When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted himself to Him who judges justly.” 1 Peter 2:23
- And lastly, because I ALWAYS want to last word in an argument:
“If you want the last word, apologize.” -G.K. Chesterton
So, I love you, Sungjin Yun… and… I’m sorry :-/
I win. ;-) tehehe