Anger and hurt filled my heart and mind. I forced myself to swallow the dinner that tasted like cardboard, my throat tight with tears I didn’t want to fall. I stared without seeing at my plate, the picture on the wall, anywhere but at Van. The agonizing meal over, I wiped off the last kitchen counter. Without a word, I closed the bedroom door as quietly as I could and climbed into bed. Finally, I let the tears fall as I poured out my grievances to the One who listened. Unlike my stubborn husband.
For the next several days, Van and I tiptoed around each other, the only words spoken, “Pass the salt, please.” No smiles or hugs. A home without peace or joy.
Until, finally, one or the other of us offered an apology. Sometimes without quite remembering what caused the conflict to begin with. And then, discussion and forgiveness.
This pattern of behavior is not one we want to bring into our new home. After forty years of marriage, it doesn’t happen very often now, but we don’t want it to happen at all.
Communication in the midst of conflict has always been difficult for me. My default response is to shut down and quit trying. I stumble over my thoughts and can’t express what I’m thinking or feeling easily.
Slowly, with lots of prayers and never completely giving up, Van and I are learning to say, “I need a few minutes to think. Can we try again in an hour?” I have to go into a quiet room and pray and write down my thoughts and feelings. That way I don’t get flustered and give up.
To help us both remember the importance of listening to each other and seeking God in the midst of any conflict, we wrote Ephesians 4:26 on the foundation under our bed.
In your anger, do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger.
If I find myself going to bed without saying good night, when hurt and anger fill my heart and mind, I see those words we wrote together. I still let tears fall as I pour out my grievances to the One who listens, but then I go and listen to Van. And give him the opportunity to listen to me.
There may be long moments of silence, icy stares, and confusion while we talk it out. We may be up until the wee hours of the morning. But it’s always worth it.
Forgiveness, peace, and understanding come from working together, not being trapped in a silent world of anger.
Prayer for Times of Anger, Ephesians 4:26
Lord, I am hurt and angry. I pour out my grievances to You. Fill me with wisdom about what I did was offensive. Help me forgive. Give me the courage and strength to go back and listen and the words I need to express my feelings clearly and without accusation. Replace our feelings of anger with love and kindness. Bring peace back into our home as we work together. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
This is Day Nineteen of the #write31days2017 challenge. To read the previous posts in the #pray31daysforyourhome series, click here.