To Snipe or To Serve

thIt was on Sunday, during the first session of a Bible study my husband facilitates on marriage, that it struck me—I am a nitpicker. The book we’re studying is Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. His premise is that God created marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy. Nitpicking is definitely not an attribute of holiness. And, of course, my husband receives the brunt of my A-type attitude.

I arrived home Sunday afternoon convicted. Although much of my nitpicking is internal, Matthew 12:34 says “For the mouth speaks out of which fills the heart.” And isn’t it our hearts that concerns God? So, I decided to change my attitude. Rather than be irritated by Chris’s shoes left in the living room as a tripping hazard, I’ll put them away or move them aside. Lights left on, closet doors left open, water splattered all over the kitchen counter takes only a moment to rectify without comment or heavy sighs. How much simpler is it to serve than to snipe—even if it’s internal sniping? It didn’t take long for me to discover there was a side benefit to this—joy.

Then it happened. An off-hand comment Chris made this morning, that had nothing to do with me, pushed a button and the snarky attitude reared its ugly head once again. I was ashamed. How quickly I can revert to that old sin nature, and for what—a perceived hurt? It made me wonder how many other times my response to any given situation had little to do with outward appearances, but instead, was a reaction to some deep, hidden hurt or insecurity.

When discussing disagreements in our group on Sunday, I commented that often, what a couple is fighting about has nothing to do with what they’re fighting about. Instead we react to some imperceptible issue or pain that we most likely thought was a thing of the past. But some wounds run deep—so deep, it would take a CAT to dig them out. And how do we work through our issues if we’re not even aware of what they are?

I will be the first to admit, I have it pretty easy. Chris takes to heart Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church…” No, he’s not perfect, but in this, I see how he strives to be a godly husband. Maybe he’s got some internal sniping going on, but I rarely see it reflected in his tone or attitude toward me. I realize there are many couples that have some serious issues that aren’t easily resolved with an attitude adjustment. But I love how Gary Thomas highlights some of the most difficult marriages in his book and points out how God used those difficulties to prepare one or both for something truly amazing. We are honed—as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another (or spouse) Proverbs 27:17.

Each of us is a flawed, sinful individual. None of us is perfect—not even my sweet husband. But God chooses our spouse (or allows it, if you were not led by Him into your marriage) for a specific purpose. I’d like to see each difficulty or struggle as an opportunity to strive for holiness rather than seeking my own. And when that snarky attitude rears its ugly head again (as I’m sure it will) it’s a reminder that God still has a lot of work yet to do in me.

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