In our last sermon series, "Bless this Home", Pastor Erik talked about PeaceMAKERS versus PeaceKEEPERS. As I sat listening to the service, I almost laughed out loud as I recalled a story of when I was newly married:
Kim and I got married pretty young; we were barely 23 years young, and looking back I can’t imagine how we survived those first few years.
One night we had been arguing over a few things and as the evening progressed our patience ran thin with one another and we ultimately decided it was just time to go to bed. As we laid in bed that night, we both silently wondered if we had made a terrible mistake in getting married. The room was completely dark and as I lay there wondering what to do, I heard Kim start to cry. Usually, hearing her cry invokes compassion and a tender heart, but this night my blood was boiling. I was so upset that every quiet tear from her caused me to get more and more upset.
After what felt like hours, but was likely just a minute or two, I just couldn’t take it anymore and I yelled “STOP CRYING!”
Of course, Kim’s response was what anyone in that situation would likely do, she starting crying uncontrollably. It was like a scene from a movie – a clueless man, with a brilliant idea to solve the problem buthis actions only make it worse. In that moment, I was being anything but a peacemaker or peacekeeper.
Recently, I heard a podcast, “How to come home from work and not fight with your spouse” from Dr. C.K. Bray, a cognitive behavioral researcher, speaker, and author. Dr. Bray offered the timeless wisdom of allowing oneself time to let the events of the past fall by the wayside. Maybe take an extra drive around the block, or better yet, walk around the block and let the fresh air clear your mind if you're overwhelmed from your day.
For me, letting time pass before responding is the hardest part when trying to not let my emotions get the best of me. In hind sight, I should have left the bedroom that night and went into another room and prayed a little; maybe opened my Bible and just let God speak to me. I know those answers may seem basic or even “churchy”, but over the years I’ve found them to be the most effective.
How could I have been a peacemaker in that infamous moment mentioned above? A win would have been to get up, walk to the other side of the bed, give Kim a kiss, tell her I loved her, but that I needed some time to myself. It’s amazing what 15 years of life and marriage can teach a person. Often when I start to get frustrated or upset at Kim (and let’s be honest, it happens from time to time with anyone you live with) I remember back to that night. I remember hearing her cry and me getting upset and I make a choice to step aside, cool down, and remember what she means to me. I pick up my Bible, turn on some worship music or pray, and let God change my heart.
If you are struggling in your marriage and you feel like it’s hopeless, I am here to tell you it’s not. There is always hope when Christ in involved. Maybe you need some counseling to work through the hard stuff – that’s okay! Don’t feel shame or embarrassment for that. We all need help working on our relationships! What’s important is that you get the help you need.
That night is now more like a punch line between us, but in that moment I felt like my marriage was over and my life would end. I’m continually working on becoming a better peacemaker in my home. It is an intentional process that I must go through, it doesn’t just happen! Not for any of us.