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Toxic Words
Photo: Anke Van Wyk
Five thousand feet below the Gulf of Mexico we have a problem. When a BP oil rig exploded on April 25, 2010, the immediate concern was the gushing oil flowing into the ocean and contaminating the environment. That is still the problem. Repeated efforts have been made to stop the flow (top kill, containment caps, etc.). Relief wells are being drilled but won’t be functioning until August.

Much like the oil spill crisis in the Gulf, there is a poison that gushes forth and destroys marriages that is more deadly than we see on CNN. It is the harmful words we speak in anger that spew onto our spouse. The Bible says, “Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it” (Psalm 34:12-14).

Like the uncontrolled oil head that gushes thousands of barrels of oil into the Gulf every day, the tongue can spew forth toxic words that cut into the heart of your spouse. When you are angry or frustrated, you can vent your emotions in ways that leave damage, even when apologies are made. It is better to keep a tight cap on your mouth than to dice your husband or wife with hurtful words.

Sticks and Stones

As the clean-up effort goes underway in the Gulf, it has become increasingly difficult to skim large masses of oil from the surface because it has broken down into thousands and thousands of little floating islands. That is like the challenge of cleaning up the cruel words hurled at your spouse during an argument. It would be nice to scoop up the incident in one clean sweep and be done with it, but words break hearts more than sticks and stones.

The Bible says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:29-32).

One way to cap your toxic words is to take a break when you are having a heated discussion with your spouse. Go for a walk. Spend some time in prayer. Take a time out. But, make and keep a promise to come back together to talk again. Avoidance will not solve issues. If your problems feel too intense to talk about one on one, find a godly person or a Christian counselor to be a third party to help you communicate your thoughts without destroying your partner.

At the time of this writing, oil still gushes from BP’s deepwater well pipe that has gone awry. Several methods have tried to stop the flow without much success. Hopefully it will be contained soon. In the meantime, be careful to stop the flow of toxic words from your own mouth. Put a cap on your speech and share only what is helpful to your marriage.

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By Curtis Reittenour. Copyright © 2010 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW LIVING TRANASLATION and the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®.

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