Love. It isn't rude. It doesn't think about itself. It isn't irritable.
It doesn't keep track of wrongs.
I Corinthians 13:5
Go ahead. Out them.
You have a group of them, don't you? They lurk, waiting to make an appearance when they can exhibit their strength, their power over you. You know what it feels like, that in-the-past wrong-doing committed by your husband at your expense. The giant debit column. The list of wrongs. The gang of bullies in an otherwise congenial community of experiences.
The irritations, annoyances, hurts, and painful memories attached to my husband over the years can get to me (if I let them). I don't have a list in my head that I can rattle off on command, and most of the time, I don't remember a single negative occurrence. But, once in a while, such as when other women complain about their husbands, or when an everyday occurrence triggers a memory, they can get to me -- if I let them have the chance. If I give them that kind of power.
That bully metaphor? Think about it. It has "mean, inconsiderate husband" written all over it. In real life, a bully has power over me when I allow him to intimidate me with words or with physical threat. Our children have experienced bullying, and what do we tell them to do? We ply them with a consistent list of anti-bullying measures:
- pray for your enemy - for good things to come to him
- try to ignore his antics repeatedly until he loses interest/goes away
- stand up for yourself -- say something in response
- get help from someone in authority if you feel you are in danger
These same measures work for me as a wife, struggling against the bullying of Satan as he attempts to exert power over me in my marriage. He wants nothing more than to rule over or destroy what God has created, and ... have you noticed what has happened to marriage lately? Have you ever heard of more turmoil and seen more divorce or separation than you do in these modern, progressive, technologically advanced times?
The Bible and its guiding principles don't read as modern or progressive or technologically advanced, but if you have Divine Guidance in reading it, studying it and praying about it, you have something timeless and that means it keeps up with the times.
God's word follows us into these modern times with consistent measures that work -- if we will put them to use. When we guide our children, we do the same thing, providing them with guidance that will serve them all their lives, if only they respect it and remember it. Our instruction will never fail them, when given with positive outcomes in mind. In other words, it will work for them if it does not focus on restitution, vengeance, self-indulgence or self-righteousness, but on what is just and right.
Do yourself some good. Oust those bullies in your brain. You know they hide in there, that group of sneering no-goods that have perfect timing, never get caught and often turn up to join the fray in an argument or in that group of friends or coworkers who seem to feel vindicated when sharing the lows of their marriages, rather than the highs.
Those antibullying measures work against the negative feelings and hurts. Those bullying forces that play with my senses, encouraging me to revisit pain, to keep opening wounds that have begun to heal, to allow Satan a foot in the door to my thoughts and feelings -- they all need to go.
The approach look like this. I think you'll recognize it:
- pray for your enemy - for good things to come to him. This means praying for protection against your own mind, and asking God to help you refocus on what good things your marriage has brought you, looking for the positives in your husband and praying for any healing and for conviction of sin that may exist -- in both of you. It also means forgiving your husband for those past hurts. Doing so helps free you from the power they hold over you.
- try to ignore his antics repeatedly until he loses interest/goes away. This means don't take the bait. When you recognize a trigger that brings out the bad, don't give in to it. Turn another direction, become interested in something else. Don't let the negatives have any of your attention. Pray.
- stand up for yourself -- say something in response. A good "get thee behind me Satan!" does wonders. Say it out loud, silently command it in your mind. Research a Bible verse that brings you peace and comfort and trot it out in front of the Enemy. God's word has more power than the Evil One ever will, as long as we remember to use it. In the Armor of God (Ephesians 6), the Word (Bible and its contents) is the Sword of the Spirit for a good reason. Use it for good.
- get help from someone in authority if you feel you are in danger. This would be God. Turn to Him in prayer and pour it all out to him. The wrongs of a spouse, if we don't forgive them, will fester and can cause us to sin (turning away from spouse, turning to another person for comfort, act out wrongly, have harsh thoughts). If you really find yourself tortured by bullying memories and , find a godly human guide who will help you through in a way that honors God and your marriage. No gossip allowed, no slandering, no rehearsing of wrongs, and no opposite-sex mentors.
There you have it. When you take the time to train yourself to a better approach, your mind begins to follow more readily. One day, you may find that list of wrongs balled up in a corner of your mind. You may never forget them completely, but you will know better than to flatten the paper and reread it.
When you fill more pages with the good stuff of marriage -- because that's what you choose to focus on -- you will want to celebrate that, instead.
How have you turned away bullying thoughts in your life about your husband or marriage? What's your "go to" Bible verse? What does your husband do that really floats your boat?