If Your Enemy is Freezing

FreezingOne night in the early years of our marriage, Corlette and I had such an intense disagreement that we went to bed unreconciled. Yes, we ignored the wisdom principle to not let the sun go down on our anger.

As we lay there facing away from each other, a bizarre contest developed. Without either one of us saying a word, we tacitly agreed that “he who moves first is weak.” I was not going to move until Corlette did. She was just as determined not to budge until I did. So we lay there like two frozen bodies.

I was soon more frozen than I anticipated.

I had been so distracted by my anger when I crawled into bed that I had not pulled the covers over me. It was wintertime, and we usually slept with our bedroom window open, so the room was soon icy cold.

As was I. But I was so caught up in my stubborn pride that I refused to reach down to pull up the covers. Yes, I was really that stupid.

After a few minutes, I began to tremble. Corlette felt it through the mattress and slowly turned her head (so I could not tell she was moving!) to see what was going on. She understood my predicament in a moment: her silly, stubborn husband had backed himself into a corner and needed help to get out.

Giving up her desire to win the ridiculous contest of wills, Corlette made the first move. She reached down and gently pulled the covers over my shoulders.

Her loving gesture was so entirely undeserved that it melted my heart. I finally saw how wrong I had been, both in our earlier argument and in my juvenile response. As my anger and pride dissolved, I was able to turn to Corlette and experience the joy and freedom that come from making peace.

And so I experienced one of the most powerful relational principles in the world, as it was “amplified” by my wife’s wisdom:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. [And if your foolish husband is freezing, cover him with your blanket.] Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

This is often the most effective weapon in any relational struggle: deliberate, focused, undeserved love.

How about you? Have you backed yourself into a corner by refusing to admit where you were wrong? Then find freedom today by humbling yourself and confessing your contribution to the problem.

Or perhaps someone you know has backed herself into a corner through stubborn pride. If so, identify a need she has that you can meet with an undeserved act of kindness. In doing so, you’ll be surprised how quickly the walls between you may come tumbling down.

– Ken Sande

Reflection Questions

  • Why is it so difficult to be kind to someone who has wronged you?
  • What are some of the needs another person could have that you might be in a position to meet?
  • There are times when another person’s deepest need is to face up to the fact that he or she has been wrong and has hurt other people. If you sense you are in a position to help such a person recognize his or her wrongs, visit the peacemaking section of this website for some practical tips on personal conflict resolution. If the other person has been abusive or overpowering, it’s important that you have someone else participate in a conversation.

Permission to distribute: Please feel free to download, print, or electronically share this message in its entirety for non-commercial purposes with as many people as you like.

© 2014 Ken Sande

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