Thursday, 31 May 2012

Where Did That Come From?

Perhaps you were driving on the highway and someone cut you off and words spewed from your mouth that would have embarrassed a hockey player.   Maybe your two year old son just flushed his diaper down the toilet for the third time this week and you were tempted to see if he would fit.   Or perhaps you and your spouse started down a well worn path about your finances and the next thing you know voices are raised, sins from the past are brought up and one of you storms out of the room shouting “you’re just like your father/mother”.  Not a scene that would bring glory to God.

Where on earth did all this anger, frustration and irritation come from?  It came from within.

Paul Tripp has an excellent visual aid that sheds an embarrassing light on these moments.  He takes the cap off of a bottle of Deer Springs water.  He shakes it back and forth and asks the audience why water is coming out of the bottle.  The obvious answer is “because you are shaking the bottle.”  Then he rephrases the question and asks “Why is water (emphasis on the word water) coming out of the bottle?” the answer now changes to “because there is water in the bottle.”

You see the shaking of the bottle represents the situations in which we find ourselves.  Whether you are on the highway or sticking your arm down the toilet the reason expletives and nasty thoughts come forth is because those nasty words and thoughts have actually been part of you since birth, often referred to as our sin nature.  Like the water that comes out of the bottle thoughts of mayhem and murder, lust and covetousness and the boasting of what you have and what you have accomplished come from within.

Whenever we experience a negative emotion we must immediately ask ourselves “what is going on in my heart?”; “What is God trying to teach me at this moment?”  Why am I angry, hurt, afraid or lonely?

In most cases you will find, if you dig deeply enough, that you have replaced God, at least for that moment with someone or something else that became more important.  For the father who comes home from work after a busy day and wants some peace and quiet, he may over react to his children’s noisiness.  At that moment peace and quiet have become more important than his children, they have become an idol.  Or perhaps it is the mom who is refusing to let her daughter wear something to school, not because it is inappropriate, though it might be, but because the mom is more concerned about what others will think of her for letting her daughter wear the outfit.  The fear of man or the approval of man has become the mom’s idol.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Adult Version of Spanking

When was the last time someone sent you to your room because of your behavior, or threatened to spank you with a wooden spoon or took away your TV privileges?  Hopefully your answer is somewhere in the neighborhood of your current age minus 10.

You are probably thinking what a stupid question.  And I would counter with -  is it?  Just because the punishment takes a different form it doesn’t mean that we don’t dole out a corrective action meant to teach our spouse a lesson.

Did you ever give your spouse the silent treatment for hours, days or weeks?    Have you ever withheld physical affection such as sex, or even hugs or kisses?  Have you ever just fled the scene?  Or perhaps you are into the more passive-aggressive forms of behavior, i.e. doing something spiteful, just to re-pay him/her for their mistreatment of you.  Punishment is rarely an effective way to change the behavior of an adult.

Punishment versus Enabling

Now there are times when our husband or wife behaves in a way that is detrimental to us or the children and/or themselves.  In such an instance there should be a consequence associated with the offense.  Perhaps the husband who can never take  a minute to call home and tell his wife that he will be an hour late for dinner should come home to no dinner.  Perhaps the wife who consistently overspends the budget every month loses credit card privileges for a week.  There is an old adage that says “the time should fit the crime.”  We don’t want to enable our spouse to behave in ways that are inconsistent with the concepts of love and respect.

Be an Adult
In the world of text messaging the art of conversation is getting lost.  If your spouse is doing something that is inconsiderate, unloving and/or disrespectful approach them in a way that is loving but direct.  Using “I” messages you need to explain to your spouse the way you are feeling as a result of a very specific situation.  For example the wife might say, “I get very upset when I spend several hours in the kitchen preparing a special dinner only to have you call me at the time you are due to be home and tell me you are running an hour late.  This is the third time this month.  Please do everything in your power to not let this happen again.”  The husband might say “I am quite concerned about being able to meet our monthly financial obligations.  When you make unexpected discretionary purchases outside of what we  have budgeted I get very stressed out.  I would ask you to refrain from making such purchases without talking to me first.”