I’d had enough.
I’d had enough of the bickering and tension. My husband and I were at odds again.
I wanted to leave.
However, history taught me not to leave abruptly. The last time I’d left upset, I went to sit in my van in the driveway — as we moms sometimes do — and not even ten minutes later, I was greeted by a sheriff’s deputy. My daughter, who was four at the time, had called 911 and hung up when they’d answered. She thought I’d abandoned her (#momfail). On a positive note, she knew how to dial 911 (#momwin), but it was a rather humbling experience to explain the situation to the deputy as he worked to stifle a giggle. (Yes, God has given me Nora to teach me many life lessons!) So this time, I knew better. I changed into workout clothes, grabbed the leash and my headphones, and announced to the family that I was taking the dog on a walk. No one protested, so I left.
At this point in my marriage, I’ve found taking some space to be the best remedy. When I return to the conversation with a cooler head and calmer mind, wisdom and reconciliation can prevail. So I decided to head to the park — knowing it’s far enough, yet close enough to create adequate distance. As I began walking the 2-mile loop, I instantly started complaining to the Lord about Derrick.
Why was he so difficult, God?
Why do our conversations have to take such hairpin turns and spiral into an all-out war of words?
Why do I get to the point where I feel the need to leave to keep from saying toxic words I’d later regret?
Lamenting out loud, my eye caught the little, orange book-sharing box our neighborhood has provided to residents. I decided to stop and peruse the options as I have a challenging time passing up books… especially when they’re free. Plus, curiosity (or sheer nosiness) makes me wonder what my neighbors are reading. I’ve also scored a few great options for the kids, too, so that’s always a plus.
As I thumbed through the mashed-up pile of random books people had cleared from their shelves, I stumbled upon one about grief and loss.
I immediately thought, Why did someone choose this book? Did someone else gift it to them? Did they feel like they’d overcome this hurdle, and that’s why they donated it? Or did they not want to deal with this issue, and that’s why they removed it from their home?
Regardless of the reason, I was here holding it in my hands.
As I flipped to the back cover, I read the summary. Inside, there was a 200 plus-page synopsis of a man’s journey through the loss of his wife. Cancer had stolen her from him, and these pages held his grief-filled story.
I decided to close it and put it back, thinking someone else could benefit more than me. But I hadn’t even taken four steps from the box when thoughts started scrolling through my head.
I wonder if that man would give anything to be fighting with his wife right now? I wonder if he would be overjoyed to be arguing with his wife instead of mourning her loss?
And that’s when the Holy Spirit spoke to my soul and gently whispered, “Angela, love him like you’d lose him.”
Instantly my mental protests and justifications ceased. I felt conviction.
“Love him like you’d lose him.”
Why is the place of concession so tough? Why am I constantly at war with my pride?
I’ll be honest, when Amos 5:24 says, “…let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream,” I get fixated on wanting rivers of justice to roll over those who have wronged me!
I mentally prepare a rebuttal, like a skilled defense attorney pleading my case to “right” myself. But as my pastor has said, “You can “right” the person you love most right out of your life.”
It’s not worth “righting” ourselves out of a relationship.
It’s not worth “righting” ourselves out of a relationship.
I decided to make a few more loops and continue processing this with God.
With each step, I left a trail of tears on the pavement. I thought, I bet that man wasn’t sitting by his wife’s deathbed tallying up the grievances he had against her. And today, he probably drifts to memories of her goodness, not her wrongs.
I wiped my eyes, and a river of peace rolled over me.
As I headed home (praying I wouldn’t run into any of my neighbors), the Lord brought Scripture to my remembrance and prepared my heart.
- 1 Peter 4:8 “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
- 1 Corinthians 13:7 “Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening].”
- Romans 12:18 “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”
- 1 Peter 3:11 “He must turn away from wickedness and do what is right. He must search for peace [with God, with self, with others] and pursue it eagerly [actively—not merely desiring it].”
- James 1:19-20 “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”
I asked the Lord to help me seek peace, even though I believed I’d been wronged. I asked Him to help me assume the best in Derrick and be quick to listen and slow to speak so I could truly understand his point of view.
As I punched in the garage code, I looked down at the dog. I breathed out a sigh and said, “Okay, Koki, let’s put this lesson into practice and pass the test!”
I opened the door to the house and Derrick met me with open arms. While I was gone, the same Holy Spirit dwelling within me was at work in Derrick, too — softening and convicting his heart just as He’d done to me.
I love how the Lord does that. It was a beautiful confirmation that everything falls into order when we seek Him first (Matthew 6:33).
Whether you’re married or not, I pray you can use this humbling lesson of mine.
In the middle of a fight, ask the Lord to remind you — not to strive to be right. Ask Him to help you, love them [your spouse, child, family member, co-worker — whoever!] like you’d lose them!
It puts everything into perspective.
“Love them like you’d lose them.”