“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. On the lips of him who has understanding, wisdom is found…” Proverbs 10:12-13a (ESV)
They are an odd, but pretty pair; the two candlesticks we have perched on the antique dresser in our master bedroom. While both are crafted from solid brass with similar round and sturdy bases, the shafts of each candlestick couldn’t be less alike.
One is straight and streamlined; not at all fancy, just functional; with tall lines, direct and strong. The second is designed with a touch of flair; two equidistant strands of brass whirl and swirl side-by-side in a “look at me” manner, as they ascend to the top of the shaft that holds the candle in place.
I found each candlestick at a different yard sale, both in the same month. While their styles aren’t the same, somehow this eclectic pair is an interesting match. And more importantly, they are a constant visual reminder to my husband and me, providing a tangible picture of our marriage.
My husband is the first candlestick. No frills. Straight-forward. Only about function. I am the second one. Crazy. Winding. All over the map. Completely about fun. While we both are “forged from brass” in that we are followers of Christ with the same spiritual foundation, pair our opposite-end-of-the-spectrum personalities together and disaster could ensue. In fact, we often joke that if in our college-courting days, we would have been able to send our profiles to an online matchmaking website, instead of pairing us up with each other, the computer screen would have blinked a bright warning. DO NOT DATE!! TOTALLY NOT COMPATIBLE!
Beyond the normal male/female differences, we have a lot in our personalities that cause friction, conflict and sometimes (mostly from me) snapping and harsh words. In fact, it doesn’t matter if it is in marriage, parenting or in a work or friendship situation, mismatched personalities can cause frustration, anger and at times, wounded feelings.
Someone who is not wired as we are, does not think like we do and who makes decisions and carries out actions we would never dream of, can just plain rub us the wrong way. It causes our feathers to ruffle and not-so-nice thoughts to invade our brains.
Usually, if dealing with a non-family member, we manage to keep our composure; tame our tongue; to not do or say anything in the midst of our frustration that we might later regret. With our children or spouses, however, sometimes we open the floodgates and spew out all sorts of cutting comments, nasty words, flying criticisms and awful accusations. My husband and I call it “throwing flesh balls.” At that point, we are not “walking by the Spirit” but “gratifying the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).
My flesh just likes to be gratified sometimes and nothing gratifies it more than a good ole’, all-out verbal assault on my “thinks-and-acts-so-different-from-me” husband. Instead, today’s verse provides direction for how we should handle the inevitable conflicts that arise from trying to mesh two very differing personality types.
We shouldn’t spew hate. We should seek to understand. We should ask God for wisdom. We should love. Not necessarily in an “ushy-gushy, touchy-feely” sort of way; but rather, in an, “I am going to choose to react gently and behave kindly because that is what God is asking me to do” sort of way. Cementing this line of thinking in our mind will help us to make the right choice. There are things we will do because we are doing them for God that we otherwise might never do for a spouse, co-worker or friend who makes us mad!
Will you join me today in purposing to stop stirring up strife when it comes to someone in your life who is oil while you are so water? Yes, even if it is your own spouse. The world is watching; sizing up how we behave. When we are one part of a divergence in personalities, what will they see? Stirred up strife or lovingly covered offenses?