I happen to know the co-creator of Ms. PacMan. Lisa and I have even vacationed with he and his wife. So I was primed to enjoy a marital analogy that Kay Warren uses in her excellent (and highly recommended) book Choose Joy:
A few years ago, Rick sat down with me and said something that sobered me up fast. He said, “Kay, I don’t think you like me.”
I said, “What? Of course I like you! What do you mean I don’t like you?”
He said, “You’re always picking on me. You criticize how my shirt is tucked in or not tucked in. You tell me whether this color goes with that color. You tell me my hair is sticking up, and you smooth it down like I’m six years old. You treat me like a child. No matter what my opinion is, you have something to say about it. You just pick at me all the time.”
Kay’s first reaction was to deny Rick’s charge—it just couldn’t be true—but as she prayed about what Rick had said, she started to get the feeling that maybe Rick was right, in which case, “this is really sad and ugly.” Kay stayed with this thought and let God lead her to a passage from Galatians 5:15: “If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”
Kay goes on to write, “Then [God] gave me a picture of Rick as a cardboard cutout—and I was Ms. Pac-Man. I kept coming up to Rick and taking a bite out of him. Gobble, gobble. I took little pieces of him over and over. I could see that if I kept doing that, I was going to destroy him. I was going to destroy the love between us. I was going to kill our joy by this constant gobble, gobble, gobble!”
Women—and husbands—do you keep picking at your spouse?
Do you keep taking little bites out of her or his esteem by the way you challenge so many (often silly) things?
My prayer is that my spouse would consider me her biggest encourager; I fall well short of this, but my aim is that I would be known for seeing things in Lisa that she doesn’t even see in herself. Philippians 4:8 says, “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
Most of us have come to know that whatever we dwell on is what we speak. “Out of the heart the mouth speaks.” Let’s train our thoughts so that our tongues can be tools of encouragement. Otherwise, we’ll act like Ms. PacMan, gobbling up our spouses bite by bite and killing our marital enjoyment.
[photo: Creative Commons, Patrick Hoesly]