The Cravings in Our Conflict

The following is an enlightening excerpt from C.J. Mahaney's article, "Cravings and Conflict":

"The truth that “cravings underlie conflicts” was vividly displayed in my own life, when I arrived home one evening from work. My family was gathering for dinner, and hugs and kisses and “I love yous” were given all around. Carolyn walked by me on her way to the table with some food and kindly mentioned in passing that I had failed to tell her about a calendar commitment I made for both of us.

There was nothing sinful, either in her words or tone, but my response was immediate: “I did tell you about it.” Walking past me back into the kitchen, she said, with a smile, “I don’t think so.” Still civil, but a bit more firmly, I insisted that I had indeed informed her of this commitment.

After dinner, when Carolyn and I were alone, she humbly appealed: “Lately, I feel as if you have not been keeping me informed of various plans like you usually do.”

I wish I could tell you that I responded with humility. I wish I had heard her out and then humbly evaluated her critique, appropriately suspicious of my own heart and eager to learn from her observations. But I did not. Instead I began to question her, and rather quickly my approach came to resemble that of a prosecuting attorney. I was being misrepresented and this injustice must be righted.

Carolyn was merely trying to preserve intimacy and communication in our marriage, but in my pride I quickly became angry. Before long I had moved beyond disagreement and (since no one else was honoring me) begun to honor myself. I actually said something like, “Dear, it’s tough not to admire how effective a communicator I have been in our marriage.” I followed this up with A Brief History of Our Marriage According to C.J., featuring a number of illustrations portraying me as possibly the most communicative husband of all time. And although she expressed appreciation for what I had done in the past, Carolyn was not persuaded.

My arrogance was pronounced and my anger was escalating; but Carolyn chose to serve and not sin. In my prideful state, that was simply unacceptable. So to my shame, I made several remarks intended to provoke her to join my sinful party. I wanted her to have something to confess as well. But Carolyn wasn’t playing my game, and we ended the conversation in disagreement.

Did I then go to another room, fall to my knees, open my Bible to James 4, and repent? No, I went to our bedroom, sat down, opened my new Sports Illustrated, and dove in. But I wasn’t reading the articles. I was imagining my wife coming into the room and saying, “Love, you really are most incredible husband in all of world history. How could I have possibly criticized you in any way? Will you please forgive me?”

That’s when God, in his kindness, began to convict me. I began to see that I had brought cravings right in the front door with me that evening—cravings for my home to be primarily (if not exclusively) a place of refuge and relaxation, rather than a context in which to serve. I wanted a hassle-free evening. I wanted to be lavished with attention, affection and approval. And I’d received correction instead.

My passions were warring within me, and when they weren’t satisfied, what did I do? Because I coveted and could not obtain, I fought and quarreled. Because I desired and did not have, I sought to drag my patient, loving wife into the mire with me. In the final analysis, I was railing against God and his purposes in my life for that evening.

When the Holy Spirit clarified my sinful cravings, I saw not only that the situation was more serious than I had thought—I saw where the source and cause of this conflict truly resided. It wasn’t complicated. The problem was within me!"

I'm thankful to C.J. for his confession and teaching therein, and wishing that I could do a better job at following suit!

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