Won Without Words
winning the marriage you desire through wisdom

Shari Popejoy

50 Days of Encouragement

December 8, 2011

Countdown #26; Like Fingernails On A Chalkboard

The tongue is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. James 3:8b

Why do we let such a little member of our body take so much control?

It is a very useful little part of our body. Who would want to do without the valuable service it performs in tasting and testing — and talking?

And yet it also spews strife and spreads slander.

Who can tame the tongue?

I could — if I were perfect!

“If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.” James 3:2

Oh, to be that perfect!

I blow it too often with that sharp little tongue of mine.

Here’s just a simple little recent example:

My dear husband, gives up an evening he’d planned, to take me to a party instead (he’d probably rather listen to fingernails scraping on a chalkboard!). We’re all dressed up, and I’m all perfectly groomed — but I forgot to accessorize my tongue.

And as we drove to our party, grating on my perfect little nerves, was the sound of those rumble strips the State has so considerately put along the edges of the highway in an effort to keep us between the lines. Now, as a rule follower, I stay obediently in between the lines, never coloring or swerving outside. But, my husband takes a more creative approach to driving.

What is it with men and noises? It’s like a competition to see how long he can keep a tire on the roughened rumble. And I admit, it really takes more talent to ride the roadside rumble strip than to stay neatly and boringly in between the lines.

But, I like nice and neat, and boringly quiet and sedate.

Frankly, I find the noise and uneven washerboard effect of the rumble strips a bit annoying. No — to be honest, it’s more than annoying, it’s almost painful. So, even though I’ve managed to feign composure for months — it really does flat-out annoy me when he strays to the side of the road and drives on the rumble strip for a half mile or so.

So, I thought I’d try to honestly express my feelings, and having such a mature and adult relationship, that would be enough to effect change. So I sweetly said, through clenched jaws, my voice quavering with the jarring of the rumble strips “Honey, the sound of the tires on that rumble strip is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. Really.” *insert sweet condescending smile*

Whew. That wasn’t so bad. He really got me. He was really going to try to avoid the edges of the highway just to please me. That was so easy. What a sweetie.

But could I stop there? No. I had to go on to point out that on a recent road trip with my brother, in three hours, he’d only touched the rumble strip once. . .

Ouch. Fail. Was that really necessary? What did I really hope to accomplish? He’d already gotten the message. (And what message did he hear?  — not only is he a bad driver, but he’s the sadistic, maniacal man who causes discomfort and annoyance to his wife, — and is a worse driver than her brother!). Did I really have to scrape my fingernails across the chalkboard?

Silence. How noisy is the silence of squelched sweetness? I’d rewarded his sweet attempt to please me with harsh screeching rumbling criticism. Oh, and truth be told, the reason he was veering to the side of the road was because he was leaned toward me, holding my hand, gazing adoringly at me!

Would it not have been better to endure miles of rumble strips than to criticize my husband, to use my tongue to strike him with sarcasm?

Wow. A critical tongue. What a harsh and dissonant sound it makes. It’s worse than fingernails on a chalkboard.


p.s. Fortunately, I didn’t ride that rumble strip very long, and got neatly back in between the lines of love and mutual respect very quickly — and had a LOVELY evening!

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About the Author

Shari Popejoy
Shari Popejoy is the author of the book Won Without Words, and the blog Won Without Words, encouragement to wives. She writes the Livingstone Library, an adventure series for young people, and the blog Oh Joy!, (injoyinc.com/oh/) for busy moms. She is a frequent contributor to Christian print and online magazines, and writes from the quiet country of the Ozarks, where she lives with her husband, Marc, and their three children. You can find out all about her at sharipopejoy.com!


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