Quietly escorting my four-year-old out of the sanctuary, we rushed to the bathroom. Once safely inside the stall, I began to cry. Not a quiet whimper mind you, but a full-fledged shoulder-heaving sob.
“Mom-Mom, what are you doing?”
“I’m crying, buddy. Over grape juice.”
A few minutes earlier, my son unintentionally bumped my hand during communion, sending grape juice all over my brand new, light pink, blouse. “This is not the end of the world,” I kept telling myself, “these tears aren’t necessary!” Still, they came with no end in sight.
I had reached my boiling point.
For two weeks I had been running on spiritual and physical fumes. Little time sleeping at night and even less time in the Word will do that to you. I had a mental timeline of when things might improve and believed if I could reach a particular date, life would slow down, and I would be able to catch my breath. Each time I was close, life threw more obstacles, and the date continued to move back. As I sat, in front of my wide-eyed son, heaving dramatically, I thought about how often this scene articulates my communication style in marriage.
Whether I am struggling with fear, upset about a comment, or feeling hormonal (needy), I keep my thoughts stuffed inside. Until, something small, usually accidental, happens and I blow my top. I take an accusatory tone with my husband or give him the silent treatment. Before I know it, he is starting at me with wide eyes wondering from where my fury is coming.
Communication is essential in marriage, and despite being an extravert who enjoys talking, I don’t always communicate well.
And the main reason is that what I am wanting or needed to convey isn’t about my husband, but rather my sin. Not wanting to confess my weaknesses and insecurities is what keeps me from sharing with Jason everything leading up to my boiling point. It is my heart, not the situation that is the problem. The same was true for my shirt:
The problem was with my heart, not the stain.
Earlier that morning I had a conversation with myself that went something like this:
“I’ll wear my new shirt today. (taking the hanger off the rack)
But what if something happens to it? (placing the hanger back on the rack)
I am never going to wear it if I’m scared it will get dirty. (taking the hanger back off the rack)
I’ll wear it to church and then change as soon as I get home. Nothing will happen to it in that time. “
You see, to relieve the stress of the previous week, I did a little online shopping. I didn’t ask my husband his permission before buying anything, and I assured myself the new clothes would make me feel better. I can even recall the Holy Spirit prompting me not to buy the clothes because I was using them as a crutch. As I looked down at my new, now soiled, pink shirt, I kept thinking my tears are a result of my sin.
God didn’t cause my son to stain my new possession, but He knew it was going to happen. He saw, upstream, all the hope I was putting in a piece of cloth! It sounds so silly to write that now, but at the moment I wasn’t laughing.
My boiling point came because I heated myself on the wrong burner.
Maybe it is just me, but sometimes I think my husband or a perfect marriage or the right house or a new outfit will satisfy my heart. We all struggle not to put our trust and comfort in something or someone of this world. While the only One who can truly meet our needs is cautioning us, knowing that what we are seeking will ultimately fail us.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. ~ Matthew 6:19-21
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:18
And just as I can research techniques on how to remove a stain from a shirt, the Word of God is filled with stain-removing promises:
Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. ~Psalm 51:1-3
“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” ~ Isaiah 1:18
I don’t want to be a wife who reaches my boiling point because I’m trusting in my flesh or seeking comfort in sin. Instead, I want to be a wife who avoids the wrong burners so that I don’t explode on my family. Being a safe woman is important for my husband and gives me the freedom to walk in obedience to the Lord. I’m so thankful for the Lord! He is wildly gracious to us!
How can you better avoid potential boiling points in your marriage?