Christian Self Help
The Line In The Sand
(Part 2) The Line in the Sand - Chapter 9e. - The Way We Are
6. The Way We Are
Little by little, things will surface in our relationship that we must choose how to deal with. For example, I have a habit of teasing you. I tease you about your nose. I tease you about the way you walk. I tease you when you talk and canít get the words out right. I tease you about your possessions.
At first, you might think it is cute until I hit a raw nerve on a bad day. You might choose to blow it off, but you didnít like the way it felt, so you will be on guard for the next time. I tease you a lot so you know it's coming! I tease you in the same way again and you feel it again. You might choose to blow it off or to say something. You might even respond jokingly, thinking I will get the hint. I can tell you that I will think you are playing around because I didnít get it. I will tease again. It will hurt again. You will not live in the present because you will be remembering the hurt in the past and be looking out for it in the future. The canyon will grow.
This is only one tiny, sand scooping way we dig and dig at the walls of the canyon until it may seem to be too late. As these situations continue to hurt in similar ways, we become complacent to the point of excusing the wrongs as, ďThatís just the way he is.Ē There goes another scoop. The canyon grows.
The little things really are worth examining on a regular basis. Daily examination of the wrongs I have done to others is so important to help put some of the sand back in the canyon. Without daily examination the canyon can grow unchecked until you find that you are worlds apart. (Ephesians 4:26b-27) "Don't let the sun go down on your wrath, neither give place to the devil." Howís that for a line in the sand?
Now thereís a subject for the line in the sand. Have you ever had money problems? Have you ever been broke, without any money at all? I have had some brief spells of having no money to spend, however, I have never been completely without. I can only imagine, with deep compassion, what that would feel like. I do understand the powerful crushing sensation, emotionally, of money problems. This is one of the most damaging areas regarding the line in the sand. Money problems will literally blast giant holes in the line, and before you know it you are both staring at a chasm from opposite sides.
Do you spend every penny in a frugal and unselfish manner? I buy candy for my son. I buy coffee and snacks. I buy soda. I buy electric appliances that I use very few times. I am considering buying a new computer. I want. I want. I want. I have discovered my selfish-self repeatedly wanting something. As I look at that object of my desire, I sometimes wonder what is driving my desire to acquire that object. If it is food, is it my hunger, or am I attempting to ease my pain in some way? If it is something that entertains me, what am I trying to avoid by being entertained? Do I really need the food or the object at all? As we consider the line in the sand, we must closely observe our desires and the spending associated with those desires.
Do you think of your money as Godís money? "I earned it so it is mine. That's my money. I'll spend it on what I want!" I tend to think selfishly about the money I earn. It is only in the last few years that I find myself desiring to give back a portion. If I think of the money as mine, I will fulfill my selfish desires first and then think of what I can do for others. It might sound something like this, "Ok, I am comfortable and taken care of. Let's see now, what's left over? Oh, there's not much left, I need to hold onto that in case something happens to me." The point is this: If there are two people in the relationship with the same attitude, or if there is just one selfish spender in the relationship, the line in the sand will frequently get blasted out. Boom!
Do you and your spouse see eye-to-eye on every item you spend money on? I think not. Our family of origin teaches us how to handle money. If your family was open and honest about the value of money, and of credit, then you will carry that belief system into your marriage. Your spouse, on the other hand, could have been taught about money in any of a number of ways. It could be that the family was poor and had very little excess. It could be possible that there was plenty of money and therefore plenty of excess. It also could be that there was plenty of excess purchased on credit with little regard to re-payment plans.
What can happen to your relationship if these issues are not communicated on a regular, daily basis? When we communicate our desires in a loving and unselfish way, we can save ourselves a lot of heartache. If, however, we just go out and spend, spend, spend, we are harming the relationship in several ways. I like to be included in the decision process concerning how the money is spent. I feel respected when my opinion is sought in these decisions. If I buy something that you don't agree with and I do not consider your feelings, there goes another big scoop. The canyon grows wider and deeper and someone feels slighted and gets hurt.
Now it is time for retaliation. She bought $300 worth of clothes, so Iíll buy $300 worth of tools. He spent $500 on a new computer, so Iíll buy $500 worth of new jewelry. Iíll show you. Iíll show you that Iím the one whoís in control. I. Me. Isnít that a selfish way to blast more sand out of the canyon? Boom! The canyon grows.
I am certain as I write this that there are some of you who have experienced this scenario in your life. If you have been the one to ďspend firstĒ you have likely received the retaliation. You might not even know the retaliation has happened because it happened as a secret ďIíll show you.Ē If you retaliated because of someone elseís spending, you know how it hurt to not be included in the decision. If you have refrained from retaliation, Iím proud of you. Did you acknowledge the painful experience? Did you gently tell the other person how you were hurting because of their inconsiderate behavior? Did you get angry and explode, yelling and cursing and belittling them, trying to cause shame? Did you simply sweep it under the rug? Boom! Boom! Boom! We are getting pretty good at this canyon-building thing.