Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Number One Complaint I Heard from Husbands (Part 4)

This is a continuation from Part 3. (See also Part 1 and Part 2.)

I think one of the reasons we are on this planet is to understand our passions and to get them under control. I've noticed in the scriptures that the Lord never says, "Don't have any passion!" but there are numerous appeals to bring them under control and to keep them under control. James chapter 3, for example, is a plea for us to overcome our fiery tongues.

One of the ways our adversary deceives us is by tempting us to seek gratifying results when what we really want are satisfying results.

For example, we sometimes let our kids raise our hackles and then we justify using anger or loud voices or sharp words or threats or whatever to get them to do what we want them to do. When we get a quick response we are deceived into thinking that bitterness is a great motivator when really it is not.

We may use the same method with our husbands or wives and get fast results, too. We learned this as children when we said to ourselves in essence: "If I throw a hissy fit, I might just wear down my parents and get what I want." Then we get older and use the same methods in our marriages or with our children and pow! Instant gratification. We're hooked!

But consider this verse:
And, ye fathers [and mothers], provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4.)
And then cross-reference that verse with this one:
For the wrath of man [or woman] worketh not the righteousness of God. (James 1:20.)
The long-term results of wrath will not be satisfying. Over the years, as I have seen parents and spouses use "wrath" as a means to an end, I have seen their children or spouses get quite disheartened. Some even lose their way.
Fathers [and mothers], provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. (Colossians 3:21.)
We cannot work the righteousness of God with our wrath, as the scriptures teach. The two are incongruous. Too often we justify our "reproving betimes with sharpness" but then don't show "an increase of love" (see D&C 121:43-44). We err on the side of reproving, and don't do enough loving.

What we don't always realize is that we are planting thorns and thistles as we treat our loved ones this way, the deep seeds of resentment and rebellion. Those seeds may take time to grow and bring forth their ugly fruit, but they certainly will bear that fruit if we don't root out and displace poisonous plants with flowers.

The discouragement created by a parent's or spouse's wrath can lead to a child or spouse to seeking acceptance elsewhere, often with the wrong crowd or with new companions or through secret, virtual pleasures. The seeds of wrath may very well bear fruit by the shocking delivery of divorce papers, a last minute exit before entering the MTC, or the announcement, "I don't love you any more." The reasons behind those tragic moments are wide and varied, but sometimes we plant the seeds that bear this fruit without realizing it.

Satan is always tempting us to go after things that will bring us quick, gratifying results. Perverted uses of alcohol, drugs, money, pornography, sex, even junk food which can also bring us down physically and emotinally. He likes to throw things like this in our path when we are physically, mentally and emotionally worn down, when we are the most vulnerable.

Sin does not usually bring with it an instant punishment, but it often brings an instant "reward"; however, a moment's indulgence can be followed by decades of regret.

So my advice to couples and parents is to turn away from the temptation to go after gratifying results and instead seek for deeply satisfying results.

One last verse:
Bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love... (Alma 38:12.)
This verse seem to indicate that when we get our passions under control, it makes way for love to flourish. Invest in patience, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness and love unfeigned. (See D&C 121:41-42; see also Galatians 5:22-23.)

Our passions are real. They don't go away. But we can bridle and control and guide them. Don't let the adversary deceive you any longer. Sharp-tongued words cannot bring you what you really want.

Only the virtues of love, patience and gentleness can bring you the deep, meaningful and peaceful relationships that you really want. Those virtues require discipline and perseverance and daily repentance.

Those virtues will not let you down. Those around you may let you down, but true principles and virtues will not. Like a seed planted in the ground, they take time to grow, but when nurtured, they will in due season yield their beautiful, satisfying fruit. 

5 comments:

Patty Ann said...

Mike,

Love this one today. It is so beautiful.

Jon said...

I love this! This is something I sometimes struggle with - not in my marriage, but in parenting. So thank you for the reminder and for your wise insight! :)

Anonymous said...

I was recently visiting my daughters ward, and the Bishops wife was giving a talk. Appearently my daughter had mentioned in a RS lesson that she had never seen her father loose his temper. The bishops wife thought this so remarkable that she mentioned it in her talk. Which made me very proud.

But there is a downside. It is my observation that along with emotional control comes a lack of spiritual sensitivity. I've also had a councilor ask whether this was a problem when my wife told of emotional control.

Any thoughts?

Mike Fitzgerald said...

Anonymous,

I think there is a difference between emotional control and emotional suppression. I believe we will be healthier and happier when we express all of our emotions, but in a positive way. The art form is in expressing negative emotions in a positive light. Not as a cover up, but the discipline to keep those emotions in a boundary. When we lose sight on that boundary, that's when we find ourselves in trouble. I feel we should not suppress our emotions (after years of stuffing them!). Otherwise, we will explode! We best do so wisely, not letting the emotion control us, but the other way around. I hope that makes sense.

Mike

Anonymous said...

I understand what 'Anonymous' is talking about. In my case it isn't a lack of spiritual sensitivity because of emotional control, but rather an attempt to block out the negative emotions and unfortunately a byproduct of that is blocking out most all emotions. It's not that I don't have them, but sometimes easier to block out. So, my question, though it may be a naive one, is how to express negative emotions in a positive way in order to keep the 'emotional channels' open, so to speak, to allow the flow of more positivie, spiritual things?