Like dangerous, infected wounds, the worst situations, deepest problems, and harshest conflicts often start out very small. How did they become so big . . . so destructive? How did our marriage get to this place?
You would have thought I’d been bitten by a cobra or by some exotic spider.
Not quite – it was only a small puncture wound from a hawthorn bush I was clearing for an elderly neighbor. No big deal, I told myself, but after a few days a large, hot bump rose on my wrist and two ominous red tracts were making their way up my left arm.
The emergency room doctor took one look and said, “You’re fortunate you came in. On it’s own, this only ends one way.” Without medical intervention, blood poisoning is a one-way express ticket to eternity.
Such a little wound – so much power to destroy.
The difference between life and death was taking action – doing something about the poisonous wound.
It’s no different with invisible wounds – the injuries that stab from the inside: that sharply selfish act you didn’t see coming, the pointed fangs of a painful put-down, or that series of statements that slice like paper cuts.
Almost everyone has sustained afflictions like this. What is important is how you treat them. Perhaps you choose to do nothing at all? Maybe an infection is beginning to spread?
Like the poison from that puncture wound, toxins from neglected internal wounds of the soul fester just as much. Sooner or later, that venom will overtake you with the intent and power to destroy. The poison of bitterness destroys everything in its path.
Marriages go down because of the poison – the bitterness – from neglected relational wounds. And, just like my puncture wound, the difference between life and death is taking action – doing something about the poison.
When we’re offended by something our spouse did, we often want him/her to come our way – to initiate the reconciliation. Seriously, does she not see that I’m peeved/hurt/angry? Is he so blind he can’t see how much he has hurt me?
Jesus disagrees. He teaches that the offended party is the one who should act first. If your brother commits an offense against you, go to him and tell him his fault (Matthew 18:15 MLJV).
Seek out your spouse. Tell him/her what happened that offended you. Many times, these conversations don’t go so well because we pursue them in the flesh rather than being led by the Spirit. Therefore, approach them with these suggestions in mind:
1) Pray before you attempt to communicate what’s troubling you, asking God to help you remain in the Spirit and to help your spouse see what you desire to communicate.
2) Don’t go in expecting to change Him/Her. Changing a person is God’s job, not yours. Purpose to leave your spouse in God’s hands and choose not to react to the response you receive. Ask God to take away the poison you’ve allowed to fester, and to clean your wound with His grace.
3) Even if there isn’t immediate repentance, remember how much you’ve been forgiven and how patient God is with you. God is at work. Trust Him, stay out of the way, and let Him work . . . which is to say, don’t respond in the flesh when your desired outcome isn’t arriving on your timeline.
Remember God’s words about a man and a woman coming together in marriage . . . The two shall become one flesh? The poison in your life will permeate your marriage and to one degree or another, touch every other relationship you have, as well.
Take action. Do something about that poison in your wound before it destroys you and the people you love.
Matt Jacobson is the founder of FaithfulMan.com a biblical marriage, parenting, and discipleship ministry providing written and audio teaching, as well as couples marriage coaching. He is the co-host (with his wife, Lisa) of Faithful Life Podcast and is author of the bestseller, 100 Ways to Love Your Wife. Matt is pastor of Tumalo Bible Fellowship and is married to Lisa, founder of Club31Women.com (they have 8 kids!).