We hardly argue anymore. My husband Dan and I, with God’s help, finally found another way. Finally, after forty-three years of marriage, we stopped seeing each other as domestic enemies. Finally, by God’s grace, we quit butting heads over every other thing – from why he won’t turn lights off when he leaves a room to why I eat our dinner leftovers for breakfast.
“But that’s our dinner for tonight,” he used to complain, watching me eat chicken and broccoli casserole for breakfast. Or in his words, “Who eats chicken and broccoli – for breakfast!”
Well, I do. I also like the furnace turned down before bedtime – while Dan likes it turned up. I like keeping to myself when I’m in public – while Dan loves talking it up with strangers. So, he jokes with store clerks, flirts with pretty women, and teases other people’s little children.
“But parents don’t like that,” I used to argue, berating him. I felt obligated for some reason to correct every “wrong” thing I saw in him. So, I took offense when he grumbled at me, sulked when he criticized me, felt jealous when at the sight of a gorgeous woman, his antennae zoomed to high and he started his shtick – a funny bit to gain attention, giving him a reason to connect.
Oh, how we used to fight over such things. So I always seemed so angry in our marriage, and I failed to embrace that golden nugget in Proverbs 17:1 — that it’s better to have “a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.”
And, yes, that’s a touchy Scripture to highlight, especially as we end another Domestic Violence Awareness Month (October). It’s no small matter that one in four women will experience domestic violence in our lifetimes – physical, verbal, psychological, and even financial abuse. (That’s when a spouse withholds money, restricts spending, runs up debt, steals from a woman’s bank account, maxes her credit cards, or prevents a woman from getting an education or seeking a job.) Yes, nasty stuff — and it deserves intervention and help.
For the rest of us, however, whose significant others may just be grouchy, prickly, or watch too much cable news, I offer a humble question: What if we just stopped fighting with them?
It’s a question for marriage, yes. But it’s also a question for all the places people find themselves at odds – in real life, online, and even at church. (Or especially at church?)
I’m embarrassed, indeed, that Dan and I left our longtime church three years ago when I took offense at something somebody said. After thirty-seven good years, we just walked out, finding a different, “better” church nearby. But was the new church our home?
In the end, it wasn’t. As Dan and I finally realized, the folks at our old church weren’t just “like” family, they were family. So, recently, on a sunny Sunday morning, we went back, reuniting with gratitude, hugs, humility, and tears.
And, no, at the old church, people don’t always agree. We see the world differently, and sometimes the Word, too. Our pastor’s sermon may sometimes annoy us. We’ll also want the furnace turned higher or the music turned down.
But as the apostle Paul urged, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). Theologian Richard Foster urged it this way: “Lay down the everlasting burden of always needing to manage others.”
Then there is Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. He spoke best, of course, about our grumbles with ourselves and others. As He said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
That means we can stop fighting — each other, ourselves, and the Lord. Instead, let’s take heart – that is, take courage – giving our battles to Him. Then our troubles won’t reign; He will.
Theologian Richard Foster urged it this way: “Lay down the everlasting burden of always needing to manage others.” -@patriciaraybon: Click To Tweet