Tender Words for Hardhearted Conflict

During a conflict with my husband the other day (yes, we have them, just like every other married couple), I ignored our habit of saying, “I love you” before we part for the day. To be honest, I didn’t feel very loving right then, so why be hypocritical? The phone rang, he answered it, and I walked out the door.

Boy did that feel good.

Until it didn’t.

Somehow we think slamming the door, getting the last word in, or telling someone exactly what we think of them will make us feel better. And it does, for an instant. But after that, if we are Christians with the Holy Spirit living inside us, we feel miserable. We know we’ve sinned against God and the other person, and guilt and regret weighs on our souls.

On this particular day, I drove all the way to work feeling smug. There. I showed him. Why should I always be the one to say I’m sorry? I’m too softhearted. I need to be tougher and not let things bother me as much. If he wants to be mad, let him be mad. It doesn’t have to ruin my day.

But in the deepest part of my heart, it was ruining my day. I love my husband, and it hurts when I’m at odds with him. But I stuffed the feelings down, determined to carry on with my day as if nothing was wrong.

I took my first patient back to the treatment room and made small talk about the weather and summer vacations.

“How’d your trip to Florida go? You were getting ready to leave the last time I saw you,” I said.

“Not so good,” she replied. “I need to tell you – my husband and I are separated. Our divorce will be final in a few months.”

Her words hit me like ice water on a hundred-degree day. As we talked about the sad events that had led to their separation, all I could think of was the disagreement I’d had with my husband that morning. And how prideful and hardhearted I had been to leave the house without telling him I loved him.

As soon as I dismissed my patient, I grabbed my cell phone.

“David, I’m sorry I walked out without saying I love you this morning. It was childish, and I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?”

He did, then apologized for his part in the disagreement.

“I love you,” I said.

“And I love you,” he responded.

I don’t believe the first patient on my schedule was a coincidence that day. She was God’s reminder to treasure my marriage, set aside my pride, and remain tenderhearted.

The book of Second Kings tells about King Josiah, who lived among a wicked and rebellious people. Despite the negativity that surrounded him, he maintained his soft heart. ". . . because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before the LORD,” 2 Kings 22:19 testifies.

I want to be like Josiah, to resist pride, and remain tenderhearted and humble. This pleases the Lord. And it helps me live in harmony with those around me. 

“Be kind and compassionate to one another,” Ephesians 4:32 reminds me, “forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Before my patient left, I told her about Love and Respect, a book my husband and I are studying with a group of friends. We don’t always get it right, but we’re learning biblical truths that have the power to transform our marriages. I pray she’ll read it and apply the principles to her life, too.

Now it’s your turn. Do you ever struggle with pride and a hard heart? What Scriptures help you choose God’s way for resolving conflict? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

Here's a fun photo from our 2016 time together.

Next month, I'll be leading a one day seminar at Good Shepherd UM Parish in northwestern Pennsylvania on Saturday, July 14, 2018. 

I'd love, love, LOVE for you to join us if you're anywhere nearby. Two years ago I met readers from Delaware, Ohio, and Pennsylvania in this same location -- how fun is that? We got to learn, worship, and pray together. It was a day-long glimpse of what heaven's going to be like when we're all together. If you're too far away, I'd love to work with your church's women's ministry to put together a one-day or weekend retreat or special women's event. Click on the Speaking Ministry tab to contact me.

Here are all the details about Today You Have Two Choices:

What: One-Day Ladies Seminar
Where:  Brookville, Pennsylvania
When: July 14, 2018
Cost: $35, which includes lunch and a prayer journal
Cost Saver deadline: June 15
How to Register: Contact Kathy Shaffer (814-328-2034)

Three Fantastic Sessions:

Session 1 - Today You Have Two Choices: 
Grumbling or Gratitude
In this hilarious session, Lori shares a story from her life that demonstrates how life can go from cruising to crashing in an instant. We'll examine the two options that usually accompany a crash and see what God's Word (and modern-day research) have to say about them.

Session 2 - Today You Have Two Choices:
Bitterness or Forgiveness
Bitterness, it's said, is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die. We know it's destructive, yet we often struggle to overcome it. Sometimes we're not even sure we want to. In this powerful session, we'll study two women who made two very different choices, learn from their examples (good and bad), and discover what God can do when we surrender our bitterness to Him.

Session 3 - Today You Have Two Choices:
Fear or Faith
Hebrews 11:6 says, "Without faith it's impossible to please God," yet it's often easier said than done. When the circumstances of life hit us hard, fear often becomes our default setting. How can we resist fear and choose faith instead? Practical and personal, this workshop will lift your eyes beyond your circumstances to see what God can do if you commit your life to wholly trusting Him. This session includes a simple yet profound method to make your Bible reading come alive.
Melissa Sylvis will lead us in worship. 

When you register, please let me know so I can look forward to meeting you!

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