This is the story of our first fight. I’m actually still not sure if it counts as a fight. Is there a time requirement for an argument to be considered a fight? It didn’t last very long and didn’t involve any raised voices, but it was definitely a tense couple of minutes. I don’t want to speak on behalf of Sam or her feelings, so I can only tell you what happened from my perspective.
After church, I went out of my way to do something for Sam that I knew would make her happy. She didn’t realize that it was such a sacrifice for me, because I didn’t tell her. I had a pretty busy evening coming up (our college group was hosting an outreach event in the form of a hoedown), and Sam wanted to spend some time worshipping and reading the Bible together before things got crazy. I had a few hours to spare before I needed to start working, so I took her back to my house, and we spent about an hour playing through some songs. Then, feeling anxious about all I had to do to prepare for the event, I asked if we could run errands.
She said yes.
The first thing Sam did right was not voice the frustration she felt in that moment. And she didn't plan too. I like that about Sam. She is slow to speak, but doesn’t use silence as a tactic. I know her pretty well though, and asked if she was okay. As always, she was honest with me. She told me she was frustrated that I hadn’t given her the time she wanted, and that I was already thinking about preparing for the hoedown. She said that if she had known it would be so short, she would have just gone home after church.
I’ll be honest friends, this pissed me off. I had made a sacrifice to give her that time, and she was acting completely ungrateful. I said something that I knew would pierce her heart, and convey just how heated I was. “I’m going to drop you off at your car.” Not a question… a statement. Something she didn’t get a say in. I made it clear I didn’t want to be with her.
It was silent for a few minutes. In those minutes, I began to regret what I said. Eventually she said, “Hey babe, would it be okay if I dropped you off at your car?” She was offering an alternative to the words that had come out of my mouth. This made me even angrier.
“Can you tell me what you’re feeling?” she said after a few minutes of silence.
I wanted so badly to give her the silent treatment. Drop her off without saying a word.
I want to pause in this moment, and tell you that I have experienced many of these moments in past relationships. One thing is said, then another, then another. All of a sudden you’re too tied up in your emotions to care about the other person’s feelings even a little bit. You think of all kinds of mean and hurtful things you could say. Emotions can become a thick cloud that keep you from seeing what you really love about a person. I handled things pretty well from this point on, but I just wanted you to know that it took many immature fights and arguments for me to learn that it’s just not worth it. Not even a little bit. You have to reject the voice inside your head telling you to unleash all your hurt and brokenness on them. Plus, I love Sam a lot more than I have loved anyone else, and I want to treat her better than anyone else I’ve dated. Anyway, I don’t know why the next words were so difficult for me to say, but they were.
“I feel frustrated,” I said slowly. “It was a big sacrifice for me to spend some time with you this afternoon, and I feel like you aren’t being very grateful.” That was all it took. She threw her arms around my arm, and said she was sorry. I apologized too. Fight over.
Emotions can be embarrassing, huh? It’s not easy to be honest about what’s really going on in your heart. But I think honesty has been one of the most important elements in my relationship with Sam. We say the things that are hard to say, but need to be said. I want to give you a piece of super spiritual advice, and a peace of super practical advice, both from the same verse.
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. James 1:19-20
Here’s my super spiritual advice. What does being slow to speak and slow to anger produce?Righteousness. The righteousness that God desires. Proverbs 21:21 says that whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor. I don’t know about you, but I want my relationship to be full of life, to prosper, and to be honoring to God. I want both of us to live and walk in righteousness, and that can’t happen if you’re saying the first thing that pops into your head. Or the second. Or the third. Because typically all of the first thoughts you have are pretty destructive. That’s why my super practical advice will come in handy.
Take a breath. Literally. Or maybe ten. Not only does taking a breath take time, it also sends oxygen to your brain. And in the middle of a tense moment when your heart is hurting or angry, you’re going to want to rely more on your brain than your heart to guide you. I have a feeling you already know the right thing to say. It just takes self-control and humility to say it.