Her loud voice carried several aisles over…”You didn’t even look this up, you were supposed to check online. I can’t count on you for anything!” I came around the corner and found myself staring at a physically beautiful woman with a baby stroller, standing with her husband in front of a line of vacuum cleaners at a department store. “I think we should buy this one,” he said, pointing to one of the models. “Why? What do you know about them? Nothing. I can’t believe you wasted our time like this.”
He pursed his lips, looked down, mumbled, “I did look,” and said nothing further.
In my head, I saw him folding in upon himself, half once, half again, half again, until he vanished from sight with a <POP!> In reality, his shoulders sagged, his spirit diminished, and his embarrassment and frustration mounted.
He looked miserable as she prattled on loudly about the various models of vacuum cleaners and how pathetic his choice was. She picked up a model and put it in her cart. “I can’t believe I have to do everything. You frustrate me so much – I wish you would just act like a man once in a while.”
Oh my word.
My heart broke for both of them.
Neither of them realized what had happened here. The destructive verbal slicing she’d just unleashed cost her more than the $89 vacuum cleaner she purchased.
Proverbs 21, packed with wisdom for daily living and interactions with others speaks volumes about being disagreeable as a woman. “Contentious” is the word used. Two extremes are given, and the images of a man fill our minds. He’s either alone in the desert or alone in elements on the corner of a roof to escape the berating articulations of a woman whose tongue wields the power to build him up or tear him down.
Men are fully expected in this culture to control their physical strength. It’s inappropriate and deeply frowned upon for a man to harm a woman or a child in any way physically. Men who throw or break things in anger are even disrespected, especially by other men. They are creatures of honor, taking pride in their ability to control their physical gifting. As little boys, they frequently (hopefully!) are told repeatedly, “Don’t hit, use your words!” and thus they learn the physical self-control necessary to thrive and be men of honor in this culture. And the message, “You don’t hit girls!” is clear as they are raised into manhood. Even if they are hit by a female, the “man-code” says not to hit girls.
And what about girls?
Are we helping our daughters grow healthy relationships, or are we teaching them unrealistic expectations and paths of destruction? What are we modeling for them?
All too frequently, I have heard a mom console a daughter who has verbally wounded another little girl with the emphasis on the other child’s behavior – justifying.
So someone verbally hits her, and she verbally hits back. And mom reinforces this. “It’s okay, honey, Susie shouldn’t have said your dress was ugly, she’s wrong. It’s a beautiful dress. She IS stupid.”
Or worse, “She deserved it. Who does she think she is for saying that?”
Or worse yet, “She’s always a mess anyway, her dad can’t hold a job, her mother is fat and mean, too. I’m not surprised she acted like that.”
While all those things might be true, why aren’t women held to the same strength-standard as men? One of the comics in this Sunday’s paper even had one woman encouraging another to “let him have it.” So we encourage each other as women to verbally hit others? Sigh. We need better role models and mentors to grow our strengths. See this blog post for more on gender strengths.
Unfortunately somewhat inept in our own communication skills, we are poor coaches for our daughters. Why aren’t we helping our daughters learn to be self-controlled with their tongues? My guess is simple – most of us don’t have enough control over our emotions to know how.
So ladies, I’m not suggesting that we teach our daughters to be “nice,” but rather to be truthful, and kind, and bold. Like Jesus. And hold them to standard for communication that is worthy of honor – by learning how to do these things ourselves. “I know Susie hurt your feelings when she said your dress was ugly. (empathy) That made you sad, didn’t it? (listen) Is she right? What makes her right? Or What did you think about your dress before she said that? (teaching how to think healthfully questions) Know this, you can like your dress if you want to. Susie’s opinion is just that, her opinion. And she can only make you sad about your dress if you let her – that’s a choice you have the power to make. Now…what about what you said to her? Was that true? Was that kind? Would Jesus have done that? Why do you think she said this to you? What does Jesus think of you? Isn’t He always right?
Etc., etc., until we coach her to the place where she can see that her behavior is her behavior, and it’s never justified because of what someone else did. Sin is still sin. And even better, where she can see that her identity isn’t wrapped up in what the culture says is “cool,” nor what some friends, or even her parents, think of her outfits. There’s way more power in a healthy identity – knowing Whose she is and how precious she is to Him will give her unimaginable strength.
And us, too.
So, today we’re daring you to be strong. Be good. Be a woman of strength and dignity. Remember that one of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control. And don’t damage anyone in your communicative strength. Take the edge out of our voices, nix the sarcasm, and build each other up, instead of being destructive. Learn to control this gift He’s given to most women – refine it, becoming more beautiful in His sight. It’s all the opposite of the “contentious woman” discussed in Proverbs today.
Want to learn more about these things? It’s my life’s mission and one of the purposes of our ministry to help wives figuring out these communication and relationship skills at an even higher level – dare you to pray about whether or not you should join us for a very special Daughters of Sarah® class… the information meetings are December 11 and 18th (come to one) at Faith Church in Milford, Ohio, (5910 Price Road), from 9:15am-10:30am in the Life Center Multi-Purpose Room. This is the class that makes it available to churches everywhere… we’re so excited about what God is doing. Please join us. J The actual class is in January – but you need to know what you are getting into, so please come to an info meeting.
There’s more information on our Facebook link here. Double dog dare you to bring friends…Triple dog dare you to share with friends and help them grow in their marriages as well, via email or on your Facebook® J.
Thanks so much for being on the journey with us!
Love to you,