“Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” Mark 4:9
My family passed around a nasty cold virus this past December. It started with my son. You might say he was the family distributor. Everyone had similar symptoms except for me of course.
Perhaps because I have scarring from years of sinus infections and surgery, my nasal passages are a bit more sensitive. Whatever the case may be when the cold virus hit me, my sinuses became
all blown up! I was so swollen I couldn’t even speak. I felt as if I could pop at any moment. One trip to the doctor, antibiotics, steroids for inflammation plus a few days to heal, and I was good to go. I’m not sure what triggered my sinuses to swell so badly but it was definitely not a normal reaction.
Our emotions can blow up in abnormal ways too. The area of semantics is one of the most complex of human communication. What our words mean or what another person interprets our words to mean is largely determined by that person’s previous life experiences. We are like an old house that has weathered many a storm. You can’t tell from appearances all the pounding the house has taken over the decades because walls get patched and windows replaced. Beneath the mortar and paint are the the scars of life. They make us overly sensitive to some pretty benign stuff.
As a bystander, the best example of this over sensitivity is played out by people with differing political views. We see it all the time on t.v.; two people from opposing parties going at it with “fighting” words, when it is obvious that neither of them heard what the other one had said. Instead, when hearing a word trigger or phrase, they spout off with a predetermined agenda that was already programmed in their head (perhaps from a past battle lost). The argument each person gives to the other, sounds nothing like the content of the original conversation and you’re left saying to yourself, “Where are they getting that from?”
On the home front, not having “ears to hear” is not as easily discerned. The cracks or damage in our walls (from the storms in our past) are often the source of many marital arguments. The corrosion caused from previous painful experiences (many that we are not even aware of ) make us so sensitive that certain words can pierce through our delicate psyche like shards of glass rip through skin. We hear words that weren’t spoken with meanings unintended. Seemingly innocent verbiage can provoke a blow up much like the eruption of Mt St Helen. Our defenses go up and the punching gloves go on, and all out war ensues.
Most all of us have witnessed this in ourselves, our spouses, or in other relationships. Unless you’ve lived a perfect life (hint, none of us have) you are not immune, however with a little introspection, a dose of forgiveness and a shot of understanding you can be on your way down the road to recovery.
When your spouse says something that sets you off, you might be tempted to say “You made me feel____!?!” (fill in the blank). Own your emotions. No one can make you feel any certain way. You do that all by yourself . Do some soul searching and ask yourself what really caused your emotions to flare up? Where in your past did this come from?
Ask your spouse or friend to forgive you for being defensive and don’t forget to forgive yourself. Also be sure to ask your loved one to please refrain from using words or phrases that spark a blow up until you have it figured out.
Pray for understanding for yourself and your spouse. Our triggers want us to assume the worst. In a healthy relationship, your spouse wants the best for you, so believe the best.
The Great Physician has given us this healing prescription:
“Therefore as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have with one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them altogether in perfect unity” Colossians 3:12-14
Though this might not keep my sinuses from getting all blown up again, it’s a great prescription for clearing my ears so that I may understand what is truly said and not simply what I think I heard.