|“Iron sharpens iron.”
What better place to learn this proverb than in marriage, where two warring individuals scrape up against each other countless times over the years, rusted metal against rusted metal? Over the last year, I had been feeling superior to my husband in the spiritual realm. He felt so empty, so lost, so disconnected from God. Where is his get-up? I wondered, turning up my nose (in a posture I believed was internal, but, somehow, creeped itself onto my dissatisfied face). Why doesn’t he just give up trying to figure things out on his own and lean unto God’s understanding? His plans don’t work anyway. Why can’t he just get it together?
But I was a Pharisee, standing– back like an iron rod, unyielding– in judgment of him. My heart was rusty and hardened, not exuding compassion and love. I thought I loved God so much. But, if God lived on the inside of me, my love would not be conditional; my willingness to forgive not so buried beneath self-righteousness, mountains of dung to which I had become immune.
Finally, fed up with my stench, my husband reached for the iron weapon that had been sharpening itself in his anger: “You’re so spiritual, but what good is it helping you? You’re critical, stressed, and just generally unhappy with everyone around you. When we met, you weren’t doing any of this religious stuff. We met dancing. We had fun. Now, you read your Bible and you talk to God, but it doesn’t seem to be helping you.”
Sputtering, my How-dare-you’s got wedged in my throat, slipping back down into the constricting cavity of my chest to break open my heart. My eyes flashed daggers that came back like arrows to my conscience, and I saw and felt with a glaring certainty the truth of my hypocrisy. And so, the real question became:
How dare I?
“Wives, in the same way, submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.” — I Peter 3: 1-2
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” — Proverbs 27:17