Mark Twain said the difference between the right word and the almost right word is “the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”
I suppose the reverse of this could be said as well – using the wrong words when you know it’s the wrong time to use them can be as destructive as a lightning bolt. I know. I witnessed first hand the effects of my words. I call them trigger words!
Case in point:
We were driving down the road, and we got to talking about some issues weighing heavily on me causing me to feel sad. In fact, I was confessing to Tom how I felt like crying. He made a suggestion he thought would help, but instead of seeing his honest attempt to help me, I reacted. I completely shut him down, and silence ensued.
I hate moments like these. As soon as the words left my mouth the temperature in the car became icy cold. I shivered and struggled, but certainly didn’t repent. I dug my heels in wanting to stay in this place for a while. Why? I honestly don’t know. It wasn’t comfortable – it was miserable! But I stayed in this mood until I awoke the next morning. Or should I say the Lord woke me and began prodding my conscience.
At 5:15a I was up and dealing with my heart. By 7a I had made Tom his coffee, taken it to our room and apologized for the pain and distance my words had caused. He received my words this time for they were the “right words.”
You’ve heard it said, Them’s Fightin Words!
Yet we are oftentimes quick to draw them out of our holster when needed. We point and shoot with the expertise of a gunslinger.
What is the point?
Who wins? No one does – not in a marriage. As partners for life we’re on the same team. Shooting off fightin’ words only kills the life of our relationship. So why do we do it? Because it’s easier to let ’em fly, than it is to restrain ourselves from grabbing the gun in the first place. It takes great restraint to say “no” to the sudden impulse of striking back.
It is helpful to remember what Christ has done for us. He used great restraint allowing the Roman government to not only cast a guilty verdict on his guiltless life, but He allowed them to take it even farther – He let them crucify Him! He had the power to call down lightning from Heaven and put a rightful end to this unrighteous death sentence. But He didn’t. Why? He was compelled by love. Love for His Father and love for us.
Considering this Truth is what helped me walk into our room and surrender my sinful heart not only to Tom, but to Christ. These are the two men who are most devoted to me and allow me to make huge messes with my fightin words, but welcome me back time and time again. It was Christ’s love that compelled me to repent, and Tom’s love that accepted my repentance.
This is kindness. This is mercy. The trigger words of grace.
How have you used trigger words in your marriage? Are they fightin’ words or are they the words of grace?
“When words are many, transgression is not lacking,
but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” – Proverbs 10:9