IMG_7421It’s shocking.

It is, and I am beginning to realize it now that I am growing older;  this tongue of mine, and the way I can wield it like a sword– cutting, slashing, defeating–can be, at times, shocking.

I can savor verses that remind me that “a wise woman  builds her house, but a foolish woman tears hers down with her own efforts.” (Proverbs 14:16)  They are wise words, sweet words; words reminding me of how much power a woman has in her home.  How is it then, that I can become so foolish, allowing bitter venom to begin coursing through my veins and empower my tongue when I disagree with my husband?

Suki was the name of  my dog while growing up.   He was a soft,  white-haired mix  that had a warm,  tan color scattered over his thick fur.    He was playful, naughty, faithful, and adorable.  Looking into his huge, brown eyes, I knew he understood me. He was a quiet  listener to my 13-year-old heart.  I loved him dearly.

One day, Suki found an opossum trailing along behind our chicken house.  Why it was out in the daytime, I’ll never know, but Suki began to play with it; running in for a quick nip, dashing away and darting back for another, and another, and another, becoming more and more aggressive.  The opossum, on the other hand,  became more and more still; the more Suki went in for the kill, the more lifeless the ‘possum appeared.

We children watched in horror as our beloved dog became an attacker.  No pun intended, but “living up” to their known habits, (well, I guess I do like a good pun,) the poor ‘possum “played dead”… and deader still, to no avail.  Blood began to spatter both the white fur of our dog, and the grey fur of the unfortunate bundle before we could drag Suki away.

What a terrible memory, and yet that is the picture that flashed into my mind one day when I was “making a point” (for lack of a better excuse for my behavior) with my husband. It started as a playful jab, and deteriorated quickly into a mean-spirited use of my words.

He says he married me partly for my pretty good wit, but sometimes my wittiness  isn’t witty.  In fact, it isn’t even good sometimes, and I  must confess, when I have felt that venom flow through my veins, it is definitely not pretty.  I have turned from being an understanding wife, to an attacker.  I am as guilty as my dog, Suki– going in for the kill, when I refuse to drop an issue in my attempt to prove I’m right.

I can feel supremely justified in making my point;  (I may even be correct!) But if he is slow to respond, or is choosing not to respond,  I can easily slip into attack mode.

My silver plated sword becomes an exacting  instrument of death and the more it flashes, cutting and swift, the quieter my husband will become.

It’s ugly and my children have seen it.

Thankfully, my husband is no fool.  He knows words are hard to retrieve once they have been put out into the air for all to hear.  It can be frustrating to me, but if it wasn’t for his quiet, unchanging, patient personality, our home could have been destroyed long ago.  He still loves me dearly, despite my faults.

The wisest man on earth has said:

“Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.” (Proverbs 13:3)

“Fools find no pleasure in understanding, but delight in airing their own opinions.”  (Proverbs 18:2)

“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”  (Proverbs 16:24)

P.S.   I didn’t want to post this little vignette.  In fact,  I vowed I wouldn’t…. unless I found a dead opossum to photograph (figuring that would be highly unlikely.)  God must take my vows seriously, however,  because the next day, after I had determined I was off the hook,  my sister and I drove past this poor unfortunate fellow.   I yelled, “Stop!!” and jumped out of the car to grab a couple of photos.

Could it be God wants others to learn from my mistakes?

P.P.S.  When my husband read this, he was quick to point out that I made myself out to be a monster, and that situations like this are a rarity.  Hmmm… maybe I am learning to control my tongue,  but at times,  there still lurks a little naughty Suki in my heart.