The delightful tour of homes that my husband treated me to on the first Sunday in May closed on a less that stellar note. It was at the last home on the tour that an obnoxious jerk showed up.
I was that jerk, exhibiting a facet of my character that I am not proud of.
At the home’s entry, steep brick steps with no railings had me mentally scrambling for strategies to deal with the intimidating challenge to my stroke-impaired balance. Walter offered his arm, but holding on to someone’s arm doesn’t always offer the perception of safety that keeps me nearer my comfort zone.
When Husband Walter made another suggestion for how to tackle the challenge, I barked, loudly, a negative response. People were gathering and waiting behind us to enter the house, but I still didn’t keep my mouth shut and muttered something else negative.
Talk about biting the hand that feeds you!
I later apologized, but I know my apology didn’t take away the sting I had inflicted. And it certainly didn’t take away the guilt and shame I experienced.
Wouldn’t you know, the next day I was reading in Ephesians, and the verse below popped out at me. Yep, it hit me right between the eyes.
“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29 (New American Standard Version)
It zinged me on my need to work on bad habits of speech and attitude. It also did three other things. It reminded me that the most effective way to change a bad habit is to repeatedly substitute a good action.
It spelled out what the good action should be and why. The good action would have been saying something that strengthened rather than attacked. The why is to share God’s grace, his unearned and undeserved favor. That is far different from launching verbal grenades that hurt the target and inflict collateral damage among others within hearing.
Third, it reminded me that through God’s grace the obnoxious jerk was already forgiven and the eternal record wiped clean. Walter extended undeserved forgiveness to me, too.
Will I ever be better at passing along to others the grace I have received so abundantly?
Thank you, God, for your grace, for your word and for my spouse.