I have possibly the sweetest husband in the world. He takes good care of me (well…and the kids too). He loves us. He tends us. He prays for, with, and over us. But, most importantly, he loves the Lord. I am a thankful woman to have accidentally found a man who loves God with all his heart. I say accidentally because that wasn’t what I was looking for. Fortunately, God knew what I needed long before I did or even had an understanding that a godly man would be important. That being said about my husband being sweet….I’m going to use him as an example tonight. (Sorry honey!)
Dear husband isn’t perfect. (I know. You’re shocked.) When, on occasion, he does mess up and hurt my feelings, he has a really hard time accepting responsiblity for that hurt. Most of the time, he doesn’t mean to hurt my feelings. He’s not really a hurtful person. But the fact that he didn’t mean to hurt my feelings doesn’t make it hurt any less. However, instead of offering an honest apology and trying to make it right, he gives a perfunctory apology and then explains why my feelings shouldn’t have been hurt to begin with. Now, if I were a good, meek, gentle woman, maybe I could accept that. Sadly, I am not. Generally, what happens is that I get so angry at him because, clearly, my feelings don’t matter to him, that I can no longer receive an apology, even if he does come around to making an honest one. ( I know. You’re shocked again.)
Sometimes, I think things are easier to understand when a word picture is given. So, here ya go….(remember, my brain works a little weird…). Imagine you were walking around your house with a knife. You weren’t angry. You weren’t trying to hurt anyone. You were just minding your own business with your knife. But, as you were walking, you accidentally stabbed me. You stabbed me good! You must’ve been walking pretty fast, cause that knife went in all the way to the hilt. As I’m standing there bleeding, you have a choice. You can tell me all the reasons I shouldn’t be bleeding and hurting….since, ya know, you didn’t mean to stab me. Or, you can do your best to fix it. Take the knife out. Stop the bleeding. Get me stitches if I need them. Do your best to heal the wound. I’m thinking at this point you’re going, “well, duh! I’m gonna call 911 cause I don’t want you bleeding out right here!” Exactly. You’re going to do what it takes to stop the bleeding and get me fixed. It really doesn’t matter that you didn’t mean to, does it?
Emotional wounds don’t bleed like physical wounds. And, just like our physical bodies, what hurts one person may or may not hurt another. But, if you caused the wound, you oughta stick around and make it better….not stand there justifying your actions while I bleed to death.
You may think I’m being over dramatic. (Believe me when I tell you that the dear husband tends to think so too!). But, this is real stuff. Last night in church, our pastor was talking about how the enemy of our souls loves to divide us. If he can wound us badly enough, we’re no good in the kingdom. His favorite way to do that is to use other believers – especially those closest to us. I recently heard it referred to as “sheep bites” and thought that was an excellent way to put it.
So, are you sitting there at this point going, “well, Leigh, what am I supposed to do? I didn’t mean to hurt Joe Blow’s feelings!” I’m saying it doesn’t matter if you meant to make the mess….you gotta clean it up all the same! I found a great quote tonight that exactly illustrates my point:
A stiff apology is a second insult…The injured party does not want to be compensated because he has been wronged; he wants to be healed because he has been hurt. ~Gilbert K. Chesterton
Yes! Exactly! So….what does a good apology consist of? Well, I’ve seen several different opinions on this. But, I have my own opinion on the subject! First, apologize….but make sure you mean it. All a false apology does is rub salt in the wound. Second, acknowledge that you did damage – whether you meant to or not! – and accept the responsibility for the wound. Then, honestly say that you won’t do it again or at least offer to try not to do it again. Finally, ask what you can do to fix it. Sometimes, the first three steps will have done the trick. But, other times, it’s going to require a little more time, effort, love.
One more thing…..sometimes, we get in the habit of doing the same thing over and over because we’re convinced that the other person’s feelings shouldn’t be hurt. Well, that’s unfair. As my doctor said, “If it hurts when you do that, don’t do that!” Seriously, you love that person….why do you want to hurt them??? And, that person could be a friend, a relative, a church member…or yes, your spouse…doesn’t really matter. If it hurts, it hurts. And if you did the hurting, you need to do the fixing.
So….have you wounded someone? I’m not going to ask if you meant to-it doesn’t matter! If you know you’ve hurt someone, you should go to them now and fix it. I promise the end result will be more than worth the temporary discomfort of apologizing! And, you’ll give the devil a black eye! That’s good stuff!
Remember what Jesus taught us….Love God first, love your neighbor next….just like you love yourself. (Yes, that’s a bad paraphrase in the Leigh version. But, you get the point! For the real version, you can find it in Mark 12:29-31.)
And yes, this is yet another lesson God’s been teaching over here at my house….
Be blessed and tell someone you love them!