This year I decided not to give up anything for lent. Yet to my wife’s pleasure, I did decide to give up sodas, Coke, Dr. Pepper, etc.… because of my Diabetes. I’m giving it up just for 3 months or until next check-up whichever comes first. I’m hoping by then I will be able to continue to say NO to sodas, but right now I could use a cold Dr. Pepper. I am committing to water, coffee, tea, and juices (I never said all sugars.) This was a big, big step, commitment, and a dumb move for me.
The torture began. I did well the first day. The second day for lunch I automatically reached for a soda and caught myself and was able to say no. Internally I was proud of myself because I had said no to myself, I decided to reward myself with lemonade. I added Lemon juice, water, and two spoons full of sugar to my glass. As I was adding the sugar to my drink, Patti came in and made the comment “that’s sugar you know.” Well at that moment I blew up and with a raised voice reminded her that I was off sodas and that I never committed to be off sugar. She quickly apologized and asked forgiveness for her comments, that what I said was true and she did not need to be watching over me. I forgave her and went on to finish my drink and lunch.
I didn’t think about the incident again because I forgave her. She had admitted she was wrong. All’s good in Marriage Land, right? Wrong. That night I could tell something was wrong with Patti. I asked, “are you angry?” She said no and we didn’t deal with it until the next day. It turns out she wasn’t angry, but was hurt over my reaction to the sugar incident the day before. I hurt her by raising my voice, being hateful, and then not apologizing and asking forgiveness. This is why I titled this- AM I JUSTIFIED?
My response was unloving, hateful, loud, and condescending; but I was wronged and she admitted to being wrong. My response was normal and justified, if she hadn’t made that comment, I would not have had responded that way and hurt her feelings. Therefore, how could she turn this around on me and make me the bad guy. I was now hurt, angry, and confused. We talked it out and came to an agreement. I finally realized I was wrong in the way I responded and I asked forgiveness.
It took Sir Newton’s Third Law of Motion to help me realize I wasn’t justified to respond to my wife like I did and I did owe her an apology. The Third Law of Motion states “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” “This law describes what happens to a body when it exerts a force on another body. Forces occur in pairs, so when one body pushes against another, the second body pushes back just as hard.” I finally saw it --in a misunderstanding, a conflict, or in misspoken words, etc.… one person offends –pushes, and the offended person pushes back with as much force. My wife pushed. She hurt me with her comments even if she didn’t mean to hurt me, I was hurt by them and I pushed back with loud and hateful words. I also realized that the offended person has a choice to respond lovingly, kindly, patiently, and not rude to name a few. Newton is right, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction” and for every response, a response, for every reaction a reaction, for every interaction an interaction… but how you respond makes all the difference. Emerson Eggerich in Love and Respect said, “My response is my responsibility.”
I’m called to Love my neighbor, and my wife is my nearest neighbor (Matt. 19:19, John 13:34). I am not to re-pay evil with evil, but with a blessing (1Peter 3:9). I am not to use unwholesome talk, but rather what is helpful for building others up (Eph. 4:29). This is not easy to do but with the Holy Spirit’s help I will improve.
I hope we all can hold our response (that equal opposite force) for a moment next time our spouse offends us and respond just as powerfully in a loving Christ-like way.