“Better to live on the corner of a roof than to share a house with a nagging wife.”
I don't think any of us would consider ourselves to be nagging wives. I certainly didn't. But there was a moment of blinding revelation when the rose-tinted glasses were ripped from my eyes and I came to the humbling realisation that I was one.
The moment came quietly enough. During my quiet time one day, I was praying for various people. My husband was one of them. And the word I kept receiving was - “humble yourself”. I continued praying - “Lord, my husband has humbled himself what more do You want?”
Yet, the word kept coming until I finally realised God was telling me to humble myself. What an epiphany that was! Now you may be wondering why I didn't realise the obvious sooner. The words were clear enough – “humble yourself”; not “ask your husband to humble himself”!
Well, I have a confession to make: I believed I heard more clearly from God than my husband. So I felt it was my responsibility to hear from God and tell my husband what he ought to do. Even as I write this I realise how horribly pompous that sounds yet that is the unpalatable truth. I believed this because, of the two of us, I'm more comfortable expressing my faith – struggles, revelations, et al.
Insidiously I had begun to think I knew more than he did, which meant I was at a higher level (spiritually speaking) and it was my job to point out areas I thought he could improve, and go on about it incessantly until he finally did things my way. And there we have it. Me – the nagging wife!
Thankfully God intervened before my husband decided to start living on the terrace.
I read a funny meme the other day which said “Not sure who is harder to raise – husbands or kids.” Though I chuckled at the time, I realise that – consciously or unconsciously – I'm always trying to improve my husband. I think that is one of the underlying reasons I nag. I feel the weight of responsibility and it doesn't sit easily.
There is a fine line between nagging and verbal motivation. Our words have an effect – they can either build up or break down. It doesn't matter if I am right. It does not give me the right to say “I told you so”, nor is it an excuse to harp on and on about how correct I am and how things would have been different if only people had listened to me. Negative words come more easily. It's easy to point out the faults in others and easy to give advice on areas they can improve.
The difficult part is acknowledging that there has been improvement and giving credit. Somehow words of encouragement always get stuck in our throats. We think them in our minds and presume that, since we thought them, that's good enough. We also assume that the other person knows what we are thinking and will understand the silent kudos we are giving them. But – here's another epiphany – if the words aren't spoken the other person doesn't know you thought them.
For every correcting, advising, accusing, negative sentence we speak either to our husbands or children (since they get to bear the brunt of our wisdom), we should consciously speak twice that many encouraging, kind, helpful and loving words to them. Imagine if our heavenly Father always spoke words of correction and incessantly found fault with us. How would we feel? There are loads of areas in our lives that need improvement, yet God doesn't nag us into changing.
He encourages us with kindness and transforms us with love. The fact I need to remember is that it is not my job to change or improve my child or my husband. It is God's. Mine is to encourage and love them; to build them up with my words.
“Life and death are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
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