I visited Pennsylvania last week to attend my aunt’s 90th birthday party. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her so happy and full of joy. In the past year the doctors told her she would need heart surgery. Hospice called her to discuss her plans and told her she was terminal. The doctor advised that she change her eating. (Sure took them long enough to do that!) She carefully watched her diet, and her issues dwindled. There is no longer a need for the surgery (thanks to prayer and good eating), but they would still like to give her a pacemaker.
My aunt decided that she wanted to have a party for her 90th birthday so she could see her friends and family while she was still alive instead of waiting for them to view her in a coffin. Needless to say, she was thrilled to make it to her birthday! What a lovefest at that party of people reminiscing of days gone by and declaring their feelings of love for my wonderful aunt.
Whenever I attend a funeral, I wonder why we don’t celebrate our family and friends more while they are alive then wait for their memorial service to express our love and feelings about them. Wouldn’t it make more sense to share this when they are still around to hear it and enjoy it? Shouldn’t we strive to continually uplift those closest to us with kind, edifying words and deeds?
Why do we hesitate to acknowledge a job well done but are quick to critique? We are only human and tend to be critical by nature – the world fosters it. We have to work on giving compliments and edifying others. Unfortunately, most of us suffer with self-esteem issues and silently hunger for words of encouragement that rarely come. We have difficulty giving what we rarely receive.
How many times have you witnessed your friend performing a generous act or noble deed, but you never said a complimentary word to them about it? Or maybe your child went above and beyond in something you asked but you kept quiet? How often has your spouse blessed you, ever so subtly, and you said nothing?
This is a huge problem in marriage today. After the honeymoon period wears off, we often begin to focus on the negative aspects of our spouse. Negativity is a contagious venom that builds into hate. It eventually kills. I’ve seen many couples compete in slinging insults at each other until they lose track of why they married in the first place. If they don’t stop the vicious cycle of criticizing each other and focus on the positive attributes they once loved, divorce is inevitable.
Ephesians 4:29-32 tells us, “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.”
Funny, but somehow too many “Christians” don’t realize that these verses also apply to their spouses and children. They may only talk sweetness to outsiders but feel it is their duty to criticize and express their negative thoughts to those they love the most. I am always amazed to hear how harmfully many people speak to their family members. No doubt, God has been greatly grieved (vs.30)
So please, if you can’t say nice words to those you love, say nothing. Compliment a stranger – you may change their life. Apologize to your relative you haven’t spoken to in a few years. Don’t wait until they pass away and you can only view them in a coffin. Work on only speaking words that edify and uplift your spouse. It's contagious. You will see a change in the way you communicate with each other and an amazing improvement in your marriage. Edification causes a relationship to blossom and grow into the deepest love.