I never used to consider myself a nag, just a verbal encourager with motivational skills. When the trash was not taken out and the clothes missed the hamper, I felt it was my duty to let everyone know all the
consequences of such actions. Apparently my family had the ability to tune
out my voice no matter how whiney or loud I became, because as reentry began of the Nag Nebula, my soapbox shuttle began burning up from lack of interest.
In order to stay in orbit I tried communicating with the commander and chief of the “mission,” but never found an appropriate verse
involving neither trash nor laundry. I did find an interesting verse,
Proverbs 19:13. Solomon refers to a quarrelsome wife as a “constant drip.” Instead of heeding these words, I was reminded of the dripping bathroom sink that my husband promised to fix last week. Not wanting the mission to be a
total washout I reminded him three more times.
Ready to return to my quarters, I was struck down by a meteor shower of shoes all over the family room floor. Dodging starboard and then to the rear, I finally tripped over my daughter’s high tops. “Who left their shoes out? Someone could get hurt!” I yelled to no avail. It was mutiny and I needed to reclaim my command. Grabbing one child by the ear and the other by the arm I “suggested” they pick up their shoes. My second in command was finally
located reclining with a remote in his hands.
“Slacking off, you’re slacking off while the crew needs your assistance?” I inquired.
The phone rings and it’s my husband’s work calling him out. “You can’t
leave now, what about dinner, homework and my deadline?” Abandon ship;
Was that a bad dream or too much pizza while watching the Sci-fi channel?
Needless to say, nagging was affecting my family. Worst of all, I was no
longer a wife and mother but a whiny complainer who didn’t know how to let
things go. I had to ask the Lord to set me back on course changing my
nagging spirit into a quiet one.
It all started when my husband called me a nag, which really hurt. I wanted to see exactly what this word meant in order to try to find a positive twist on it. So becomes the surprise source of conviction that starts the path of
letting go. From Merriam-Webster’s on-line, collegiate dictionary the words I read troubled me. First it stated, “to find fault incessantly,” incessantly means: “continuing without interruption,” I was fault finding without interruption? “Nag” also meant: “to be a persistent source of annoyance or distraction.” Could I really be distracting those who I was trying to help pay attention and stay focused? Then I read: “to irritate by constant scolding or urging.” Wow, there it was “constant scolding or
urging,” I thought I was doing my family a favor by scolding them when they were wrong and urging them to do it my way.
Conviction wasn’t lengthy, for I found comfort from God’s Word. 1 Peter 3 instructs us on Godly living. Verse 3 of the NIV encourages that, “it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet
spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” Right then and there I asked God to give me a “gentle and quiet spirit.”
He spoke to me through Romans 5:1“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have
peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” I asked Him to show me where
I was having trouble with peace and quiet in my spirit. Going back to the
dictionary, one definition for peace was, “freedom from disquieting or
oppressive thoughts or emotions.” There were 5 oppressive thoughts that
kept me from having a quiet spirit.
A quiet spirit meant lightening up. Instead of just letting my 5-year-old daughter learn on her own I used to feel the need to preach. One morning we were discussing the 23rd Psalm. She needed to learn it for her Sunday
school class to be read aloud with others. I started explaining the message inside and out. Defining each sentence and word. When I got to the part
about the “shadow of the valley of death,” I noticed her staring at me intensely. I thought, “Yes, she’s really getting it;”
“Speak my child, speak.”
“Is that a pimple on your chin?”
“Does it hurt? Can I touch it?”
“Yes, I mean No!”
Clearly, any hope of insight was lost when searching for interest in my deep conversation; she focused on my morning breakout. I simply asked, “What does this story mean?” She told me everything I was hoping to hear and more. I learned something too. Preaching is a form of nagging that teaches
nothing. Lightening up helped me to quiet down. Now my kids come to me ready to listen because they know I’m not going to nag.
A quiet spirit meant picking my battles. One morning before church I had planned everyone’s outfit around my navy blue, pleated skirt with matching top and sensible shoes. I wanted to look like the “ideal” family. In the middle of preparing breakfast, my daughter showed up in her “around the
house” yellow dress with tennis shoes and purple socks. She had on a blue, beaded necklace that reached her knees. Without so much as a “good morning,” I said “NO!” She hung her head low and stomped upstairs. After I showered, my husband emerged from the closet wearing a shirt with a hole.
I point to the hole so he would be aware of it and told him to change. My 2-year-old son was easy; I dressed him in his white button down shirt with a blue clip on-tie and then put on his tan pants and white socks.
Unfortunately he returns a short time later with black cowboy boots and his
red fire fighter hat.
With their list of demands, they rally against me, each wanting to wear “inappropriate” attire to church. I compared them to the pastor’s family who was always neatly pressed and finely polished. Nothing. Then I opened up with a heart-felt plea of “What would people think?” In protest, they all turned and walked right past me stepping over my still-beating, broken heart and climbed into the minivan black boots, holey shirt and beaded necklace in-all.
I whined about how it wasn’t too late to turn back, during the entire 20-minute drive to church and then cringed when we headed into the building. Now I had to get past the greeters, “My what a lovely necklace,” the first said to my daughter. “What a great pair of boots,” the other said to my son. Rushing to their rooms I heard passers by saying “Nice hat,” “Great tennis shoes” and “What fun outfits;” without stopping, we arrive at their classes. The teachers gave each of them hugs as the other children looked on with envy. Ignoring the fact that no one cared how my children looked, I
found seats in the back row of the sanctuary with my husband and began mumbling about how I hope no one sees us. Then he did it, my husband took off his jacket and there it was, his pale flesh staring right at me. I never heard the sermon. My mind was busy convincing me everyone was laughing at me.
I realized during the drive home that nothing bad happened to us. The fashion police didn’t come and haul me off to jail; the Center for Disease Control didn’t quarantine my minivan nor was there ever a public service announcement of what could happen when attending church in comfortable and
mismatched clothes. I know there are some battles I should fight like when my kids want to watch an inappropriate TV show or eat too much candy, but picking my battles gave me peace and reduced my nagging.
A quiet spirit meant giving up control. It started as a simple day of errands. The problem was my husband was driving and he went to the “wrong” place first. He took the “wrong” road to the next stop. Without consulting me, he added an unexpected stop. I spent the entire morning nagging, how he was driving too fast or taking the “wrong” roads and even how he should let me know about every stop. He had enough. Handing the keys to me he said, “You drive.” I wasn’t expecting to drive just for him to read my mind and
have my plan executed without thinking of anybody else. I gave up control, letting others have a say in the day as well. I also surrendered my expectations of others to the Lord. Once I did, there wasn’t much to nag
about and my husband was able to drive in peace.
A quiet spirit meant knowing when to keep quiet. I love it when I am right. When questioned, I considered it a personal attack. My husband and I were listening to the radio when I smile and say, “I love Kathy Troccoli.”
He said, “This isn’t Troccoli it’s Rebecca St. James.”
Instead of letting go, I argued back, “I know this is Kathy Troccoli and the name of the song is ‘Parade.’” When he shook his head no, I felt I had to press on. The song was over but I insisted he “prove his case,” but he just
walked away. Wanting to set him straight I ignore the Holy Spirit and chase after him. We argued back and forth a few times. I head to the computer and bring up Kathy Troccoli’s web page. There it was, from her 2000 album Love has a Name “Parade.” I printed it out, rushed downstairs and tossed it
at my husband. All I could say was, “I’m right and your not.”
Which he promptly replies, “What are you, four?”
If you hold up arguing and nagging against the light of God’s word, they both look the same, dark and ugly. Job said it best in 16:3 of the NIV, “Will your long-winded speeches never end? What ails you that you keep on arguing?” I think the name of the ailment is rightitis. I decided to stay
quiet even when I knew I was right and now my rightitis is in remission.
A quiet spirit meant casting my care. Worry started me nagging endlessly
until the situation passed. For instance when I agreed to teach the Women’s Bible Study at our church, I had a lot of anxiety of public speaking. I would obsessively quiz my husband with “What ifs.” At first my husband would have a supportive answer but soon all he could say was, “So what’s the big deal? Just pray and ask the Lord to deal with it.” He was right. Psalm 55:22 (NIV) instructs us to, “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” I began to pray about my class and even though I was still a little nervous, I did fine. Now I am excited to teach, and my “what ifs” became “know what’s.” In short, casting my care on the Lord eliminated worrisome nagging.
Nagging comes in many forms. Whatever the form, nagging can be devastating to those who have to listen to it. God can give us an inner quiet spirit if we just ask and then learn from our past. Instead of nagging, turn to Him to help you lighten up, pick your battles, give up control, keep quiet and cast your care. Your family is worth it.
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