I want to introduce a friend of mine to you…her name is Karen Ehman and I am honored to have her sharing on the blog. I admire Karen and her passion to live life God’s way! Her encouragement in this article is necessary for all wives and it is the theme for her newest book Keep It Shut! There is a free online bible study beginning January 26th through Proverbs31Ministries.com based on her book! Details to sign-up for that can be found HERE!
I’m not gonna lie. I get mad at my husband sometimes.
Really, really, REALLY mad.
Oh, it might be over something considered “big”—like the time he forgot to introduce me as his wife when he was speaking at a college reunion function in front of hundreds of people. I stood there looking crushed and very out of place.
Or—more often than not—it is over some seemingly trivial little thing like the ketchup not being put back in its proper place in the fridge or him picking up creamy instead of crunchy when grabbing peanut butter at the store. (I know. Such awful offenses!)
Hurt happens in marriage. Little mistakes do too. We can’t change that. But do you know what we can change?
This was illustrated to me one day by my then fifteen-year-old son.
My son Spencer has a fondness for iPod games, especially ones where a creature has to jump, twist, dodge, and dart in an effort to stay alive. He often plays these games on our short commute to school each morning.
As we drive, we go over pick-up instructions for that particular day. At the middle school after wrestling practice? Or at the high school if there is optional weight lifting that day? And what time?
I also give my “Be sure your sins will find you out” lecture that my own sweet mama often gave me. The man-cub just keeps playing his game, acting as if he’s not listening. But I know he is.
Sometimes when I’m jockeying for position in the parental car-pool line, I inform my boy it’s time to get out of the vehicle. Still engaged in the game, he will say,
Hang on a second. I gotta die.”
As in, “I’m still finishing this round. I don’t want to power off just yet. Let my character finish this round until it dies. Then I will get out of the car.”
As he said those words one morning, they spoke to my soul. As a follower of Christ, I am to die to self. But so often, I choose not to. Instead, I elevate self. I promote self. I think little of the other person and much of me. But before I react … before I hurl a harsh word … before I pass judgment or speak unkindly to my husband or snap at my child, perhaps I need to take a deep breath and say, “Hang on a second. I gotta die.” Die to self. Die to flesh. Die to my “rights” that too often result in my wrongs. Yes, Paul said it best—“I die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31 KJV).
Does this mean in everything?
Consider Jesus’ statement,
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” – John 15:13
My initial response is to imagine all the dramatic ways that could happen. I might jump in front of a car in order to get my friend out of harm’s way. A soldier might willingly give up his life on the battlefield. A father might risk his life in a dangerous operation in order to donate an organ to his child.
But what if laying down one’s life includes dying to self in the everyday details of married life?
In my interactions with my husband, even at those times he makes me so stinkin’ mad? These daily, hourly, and even moment-by-moment dying-to-self decisions sometimes seem more difficult than the dramatic ones!
And if we’re trying to die to self in our own strength, they will also be impossible. In order to die to self in the daily, routine hassles and relational challenges we face, we must draw deeply from the available power of the Holy Spirit, surrendering our life and words to His will.
So the next time you’re tempted to react to your husband in a way that won’t please God, remember my game-lovin’ man-cub. Take a deep breath, a pause that centers your heart, snaps your soul to attention, and gently declare …
Hang on a second. I gotta die.”
Karen Ehman is a woman whose words have often landed her in a heap of trouble —in her new book Keep It Shut, she shares from experience the how’s (and how-not-to’s) of dealing with the tongue. Using biblical examples, as well as Karen’s own personal (and sometimes painful!) stories, Keep It Shut will equip you to know what to say, how best to say it, and when you’d better just keep your lips zipped! You can connect with Karen at karenehman.com where she helps women to live their priorities and love their lives.