Have you ever read the book of Proverbs? I highly recommend women read this book, because it is full of practical wisdom and principals on how to live. But one thing it is also full of is cautionary descriptions of unpleasant wives. (Perhaps if Solomon had not had so many wives this would have been better… but I digress) Wives are compared to a dripping faucet, called contentious and it’s said it would be better to be on the corner of a roof then live in the house with one of these “nagging” women. Now to be fair, Solomon also says finding a wife is a good thing, and then describes in chapter 31, that famous description of a wife with noble character. But on the whole, you get the feeling Solomon had endured (and watched his buddies endure), a whole lotta’ nag!
“But, we’re not nagging- we’re helping!” A few years ago the thought occurred to me that “help” is only such if it is perceived as helpful by the recipient. In other words, would your husband and children say they feel helped or criticized? If the person I’m trying to help walks away feeling defeated, unliked or discouraged- did I accomplish my goal? And are they even likely to take my unsolicited opinion? I will freely admit, I fail often in this area. In fact, I have recently come to the conclusion that this is an area I need to focus more attention on. I had an honest discussion with my husband, that left me with the realization that more often than not, he feels criticized by my attempts to “better him”.
So what’s a woman to do? I’ll tell you what the Lord has laid on my heart in this area, and you take what feel might be helpful for you:
1. When I notice something I want to suggest or feel concerned about: pray about it for two weeks. No bringing it up until I have fully prayed it through. Sometimes God shows me that my motives for concern are purely selfish. Sometimes the “problem” resolves itself. And then occasionally I still feel the need to discuss a concern.
2. Limit, absolutely, critique to one item per week. Once you’ve reached your limit, go back to #1.
3. Focus energy on praise. Studies say for every one negative, we need ten positives to balance it out. I find that whatever I focus on, expands. When I retrain my mind to be more tuned in to the good, positive, successful traits and qualities in my loved ones, the areas of concern get smaller naturally. Phillipians 4:8 tells us to think on the positive, and this applies to our view of others as well.
4. Focus heart on Christ. All throughout scripture, we are told to set our hearts on Christ. To remember Him in our day to day life. How does this help with not being a nagging wife/mom? Well, when I focus on Christ I am reminded of His great love and grace for ME! I am full of faults and flaws and sin and weakness, but Jesus doesn’t constantly nit-pick me. In fact, He says His grace is sufficient for me and when I am weak, then I am strong. As I experience His grace to me, it overflows to my family. It’s not saying they don’t have areas they need to improve. It’s realizing it’s not my job to show them or condemn them for where they are currently.