Times have changed. When I was a teen and young person, my peers and I tried to be civil, positive and encouraging to one another. That didn’t hold true for bossy big sisters and little brothers that always managed to get in the way. Still, I don’t remember my words damaging anyone.
Not so today. I have been aghast and amazed at how the present generation call each other names, and use sassy words as jargon, all in the name of fun. My grandson and his wife did this while they were dating. When I mentioned it wasn’t a good idea to talk to each other that way, they scoffed at me, saying it was harmless and I was behind the times. Always on the alert to not be trapped in a generational box, I waited to see how this would work out. As I suspected, the careless words became less fun as the time went by, and slowly turned heated. The laughter stopped. And their marriage ended, not just because of words, but because respect and nurturing was no longer there. Sadly, the love they once knew remained somewhere under all the pain and anger.
Relationships can be like that. A foundation for future success or failure is built on the words spoken, the attitude one has for oneself and others, and the actions or reactions to situations we encounter. All these things reflect on who we are inside. A good foundation can be the basis for lifetime friendships, and for marriages. A weak foundation cannot weather assaults on the soul and the mind.
“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27)
I have found there is a progression in the collapse of a relationship. At first, there are little annoyances that can be chalked up to harmless little quirks in a person’s personality. They can even seem endearing, and can remain as such unless the offending person shows themselves to be self-centered and unapologetic. Then the first person starts defending themselves when they feel less than cherished. This, then, puts them in a compromised position of being quarrelsome, unless they take the high road and ignore the hurtful words. Slowly, animosity builds from both sides, (the “ignorer” may even bury the emotions to keep from facing the truth) until the original offender begins to dislike and blame the other person. True, even the non-offender has lost their appeal and spontaneity from the earlier days. Both people end up despising each other, and feeling at fault. Interestingly, the original offender usually blames the other person, because they will not accept responsibility for their actions. It couldn’t be be their fault. Or both can be equally unable to establish good habits in the relationship. If it is a matter of not knowing better, there are classes, books, counseling, and the word of God to help them find a better way that would lead to peace and happiness.
“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Proverbs 12:18)
“A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but when it twists things, it breaks the spirit.” (Proverbs 15:4)
I think that is the point I want to make: instead of breaking the spirit, we need to nourish, love and encourage others to be the best they can be. Life is not about what we want, and does not revolve around us. The miracle is as we give to others, we find ourselves. And we feel cherished.