Sometimes when I just say “OK,” the walls come tumbling down. Those two little letters put an end to so many arguments. It’s amazing. Outside of calling on the name of Jesus Himself, I think this is the next most powerful word in our language.”
– A thirty-one year-old woman resolved to live with grace
We like being right, and we want other people to agree that we are. That’s why one of the hardest things to do in life, in marriage, in our families, and in our homes is to resist the urge to flaunt that rightness. To win the argument. To send the other person away with their head hung in shame. We feel like our sentiments deserve the right to be heard, then understood, then agreed with and acted upon. And so we talk, and discuss, and quit listening, and run the other person down. Into the ground. Into submission.
Those on the periphery steer clear, tiptoeing around the edges of the tension, trying their best to evade commotion in a home that’s supposed to be their resting place. They feel marginalized and excluded, wondering how this is all going to work out.
All because everyone wants to be right.
But it won’t be right. Not until someone is bold enough, confident enough, courageous enough –gracious enough- to kindly, lovingly, carefully acquiesce and say. . .
To finish it. Once and for all. Not because their demands were met or their preferences catered to, but because they prefer peace to madness. They desire restoration above discord. They want a home that feels full, not depleted and empty – a hollow shell that echoes long and hard with the loud racket and chaos of a fiery argument, then turns cold and icy, bristling from the biting sting of silent treatments.
One little “OK” makes the difference.
Now this is not some new age philosophy. It’s an ancient, scriptural sliver of venerated wisdom:
A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath. (Proverbs 15:1)
A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but perversion in it crushes the spirit.
Patience can persuade a prince, and soft speech can break bones. (Proverbs 25:15)
Truly, it’s the wise woman who doesn’t seek to be heard or validated, but who sometimes – in order to protect and preserve relationships, in order to invite peace back into her home – chooses a soft, delicate, gentle response in place of one that’s sharp and explosive, harmful and wounding. She is resolved not to tend the fire of quarrelsome conversations, knowing she’ll only be covered in its ashes long after the embers have burned out. She sees through the veneer of out-of-control temperaments and off-kilter comments, down to the reality of the circumstance, recognizing that the thing she’s making such a big fuss over is likely pretty small and insignificant in the grand scheme. She’s not about to lose the battle of her home over a tiny skirmish on a minuscule hill. She doesn’t stir the pot of people’s emotions just for the satisfaction of watching them cave under the mounting pressure. She is patient. She brings calm to the storm.
And that’s what makes her a picture of wisdom. And grace. Not a pushover. Not a doormat. She isn’t caving or being run over. Neither is she cocky or arrogant with her “OK” dismissal. There’s no air of sarcasm in her comment. No sinister smirk on her face. She’s just strong. God has produced enough courage in her to prefer the long-lasting sweetness of deference over the small, fleeting, unsatisfying victory of winning this momentary battle.
Says . . .
Not easily, but purposefully, powerfully, poignantly.
She inhales. Exhales. Forces a gentle sigh and a smile, coming up from somewhere deeper than human strength has the mining rights to dig. Then with two simple letters, and one great big trust in God, she completely recalibrates this whole experience, not only for herself but for everyone involved – those she lives with and is resolved to nurture.
“OK,” she whispers.
And in the end, she wins the greatest victory of all.
Making this resolution a habit in your home will take time and practice. Resolve to use this little word, in this simple way, as much as you can in the next forty-eight hours and record the impact it makes in your relationships.
Priscilla Shirer, Going Beyond Ministries
*Adapted from Priscilla’s new book, “The Resolution for Women“. To be released September 2011 in conjunction with the movie “Courageous”.