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 Such Distasteful Dinners!

   I have spent most of my life trying to eat my sour words before they made it past my lips. So very unpleasant!

   Taught early to behave myself, by my godly mother, I was richly blessed. I behave for the most part, like a pleasant, godly, well-mannered lady. But there is a wealth of low-key criticism running in circles within my brain. I am ashamed to admit how many things irritate me inside.

   I was taught to be pleasant, no matter how I felt. From five years old, I knew to be polite even when I felt most terribly disappointed. (I remember the beginning of this lesson, from being rude and ungrateful at my fifth birthday party, and what my mother did after it, to teach me.) And to put a smile on my face! My mother's excellent lessons have helped me all my life.

   Being nice has always been what I really wanted to do. But just acting nice does not guarantee that I am a nice person inside. Right now, I am most concerned with becoming a truly giving and loving wife. I am rather new at marriage. But I wish for all negatives to flee away, and to be simply and totally flooded with love for my husband.

    * My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD. Psa 104:34

   Today, I was noticing how many nasty things I was thinking, but did not say. "Why don't you ever hug me?" "I didn't like it when you woke me up early this morning to make you coffee, just because you woke up early." "I'm tired of bringing you coffee all day."

   And toward my adult disabled children: "Couldn't you have remembered to bring me your laundry sooner, when it would fit in one washer?" "Will you EVER learn to wipe off the table after you eat?" "Must you talk all afternoon, about nothing?"

   But I did not say any of them. I thought "he's busy, he didn't think of hugging me." "He woke me because he wanted coffee. He figured I had had enough sleep." And "isn't it my wifely duty to bring him coffee? He doesn't ask that much. Plus, remember, he always says thank you."

   I thought "No, she couldn't remember to bring her laundry sooner, because her brain is damaged. 'Sooner' is an abstract concept which has no concrete basis, to help her remember." "Yes, she probably WILL learn to wipe off the table after she eats, but only if I remind her after EVERY meal, for several more years." And "he likes to talk, and to him, his conversation is meaningful and interesting. Watch the sparkle in his eyes, and hear his laughter. Listen to him tell you he loves you, every single day."

    * Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. Psa 19:14

   Years ago, during my first marriage, which I was in no way prepared for, the sharp words would spill out. Learning to keep them in was a very long process.

   But now I am continuing this learning. It mustn't stop with keeping them in. I must resolve things. To stuff them back in, unresolved, is a sure fire guarantee that one of these days, there will be a great explosion, and I will yell, and say things I don't mean to say, and regret horribly, later.

    * My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding. Psa 49:3

   My mind is always very busy. But there really isn't a bees' nest in there! My thoughts are not truly a garbled, jumbled unidentifiable mess. It is all a matter of sorting it out. Not much different than cleaning up the kitchen.

   To keep the door to my mouth carefully guarded, I must stay attuned to the things that irritate me. The cliché "don't sweat the small stuff" is my motto for most things these days. I must identify the things that really don't matter. I have done this, to a very great extent. And if it is truly small stuff, I must just let it fly away, unspoken, in the wind. How I yearn for the day I can truly say:

    * All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them. Pro 8:8

   If it is medium stuff, like teaching my daughter to bring her laundry "sooner", it is up to me to decide how to show her when "sooner" is. For instance, make a large mark on her mesh laundry bag, and ask her to bring it when her laundry gets to that mark. I haven't done this, but I know she could learn then. It hasn't meant enough to me, to really work on, yet. So in that case, for now, I must let it go.

   If it is medium stuff, like wishing my husband would hug me, which used to be big stuff, I must let it go. He isn't going to, because he is not a huggy person. I've done everything I could do, to inspire him to hug me. There is no use to work on that any more. So I must let it go. If I want to hug him, I can.

   But if it is big stuff, like my disabled son talking for hours, repeating himself over and over, I need to put a time limit on it when he begins, set the timer, and let him know that when the timer rings, I must get back to my work. All this with a cheerful face, and a loving way. He will cooperate. He will not mind. And I am not cramming irritation with him, back inside, with no resolution, which is not fair to either of us.

   If it is big stuff, like my husband waking me up early to make him some coffee, I need to ask him not to wake me up, just because he woke up early. That I'm getting older, and need my sleep. That he is not going anywhere, and could make his own coffee. Please not to wake me up until (and pick a time). If he does it again, repeat, with his full attention, and a little more emphasis. Let him know if it important to me. It may or may not work with a husband, but chances are, it will. He loves me, and I ask very little. Even if it doesn't work, I must remember these words:

    * The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace. Exd 14:14

   There have been times that I was terribly angry at my husband. But I have usually managed to keep my mouth shut until I could calm myself, and speak correctly, and peacefully. I have actually put scotch tape across my lips, to remind me to keep the sharp words in. And it has occurred to me that this is giving a peace offering to Christ; and in its very difficulty, I think I could safely say it was made by fire. The following verse is not in this context at all, but then ... perhaps it could be, so I offer it here:

    * And he shall offer of the sacrifice of the peace offering; an offering made by fire unto the LORD. Lev 3:3

   The point is, to let go of the small stuff, make decisions on what seems to be medium stuff, and file it in small or big. If I file it in small, I must let it go, and not allow it to bother me any more. But when I file it in big, I must take that big stuff, and seek out solutions until they are solved.

    * Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Mat 5:9

   That way, there is no angry mess boiling inside. That is not God's way. God's way is peace, and wisdom; self-control, humility, and patience. These strengths only God can give. And He will, to all who ask it of Him. I fear the Lord with a mighty love, and an enormous gratitude for His love for me.

    * The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate. Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength. Pro 8:13,14

   I'm really tired of eating my words. I am on a mission to have less on my mind's plate. To clean up my cluttered mind, and throw out the messes that are not necessary. The sharp thoughts, the sour attitudes, the critical words. If they are gone, I will not have to eat them any more! I want to be as sweet inside, as I appear on the outside. For this, I ask of God. And every time He helps me keep the negative words in, I can pray this prayer:

    * ... To day thy servant knoweth that I have found grace in thy sight, my lord, O king, in that the king hath fulfilled the request of his servant. 2Sa 14:22

   I have a long way to go. But I have already come a long way! God is helping me nurture gentle thoughts, and kind ones. He is working with me, cultivating patience and mercy. The more of these things that God gives me, the less distasteful, bitter words I have to eat. They are becoming less and less. Praise God, for the increasing forgiving and kind thoughts and words He is giving me! He is answering my earnest prayers, and protecting me from my own impatient human nature.

    * And I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand. Isa 51:16

2005 Rosemary Gwaltney