My wife, Heather, says to me a lot of things. I say a lot of things to her.
Spoken words, written words, typed words…
But recently I was thinking about some of the key words she has said to me that have been a grace to me. Ephesians 4:29 tells us that our words are to be used for good, for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear.
Proverbs 16:24 says, Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.
Proverbs 25:22 says, A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.
Through our years of marriage, she has spoken words to me that are like honey to my soul and apples of gold.
I share these with you, to not only honor my wife, but hopefully encourage those of us who are spouses to intentionally speak words of grace to one another. Words for the building up of someone in need, of which we are all that someone.
Here are 8 phrases that she has said, written, and/or typed to me before. Words that have strengthened me.
I love you.
It never gets old. Whether at the end of a text or phone conversation, or before I drift off to sleep in 8.1 seconds, or we are making right something that has gone wrong, or a hundred other opportunities that are before us on a weekly basis.
I am with you.
She often speaks this to me when there is something external exerting pressure against my life, our marriage, and/or our family. She has also said this to me when it is my own flesh rearing its ugly head. It is a reminder that she stands back to back with me, and is committed to be alongside me, contending together for the faith (Philippians 1:27).
I trust you.
She doesn’t speak this one flippantly to me. I know when says it, she means it. Often times, she speaks this in relation to some big decision we are facing. There is a weight to these words that emboldens my spiritual leadership, drives me to prayer and humbly leads us to further conversation where I seek her discernment. And by the way, when decisions have been wrong, she doesn’t then throw it back in my face. A Christ-centered marriage is grace-based, not law-based.
That is sin.
She’s not throwing this one around every hour on the hour. She’s not a legalist wearing stripes, throwing flags on the field continually. She is though, aware that sin is always crouching at our door ready to pounce (Genesis 4:7). And that I am not above the potential to let sin entangle my heart. She’s seen it entangle me before, and so she speaks the truth in love to me (Ephesians 4:15), is willing to love me enough to wound me (Proverbs 27:6), and in the process spur me on to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24).
I am praying for you.
What a gift to hear or receive these words and know she is actually praying for me. Even better is when she prays over and with me in the course of life. Often times before I preach, she places her hand on my lower back and prays. She speaks this phrase not just when the moment or day is significant, but in the mundane of our days. Because we need prayer as much on those days, as the big ones.
I forgive you.
I don’t know if there are sweeter words to hear, after you’ve wronged someone. Someone who you care about and love deeply. Keep in mind, these words are not flippantly shared and then a grudge is still held. Rather, when she speaks this, I know she is choosing to no longer hold my sin against me. She is extending to be grace, which reflects how our Heavenly Father treats us through the gospel (Psalm 103).
Pray for us.
She often gently speaks this to me, when I am prone to try and humanly think my way out of a situation. Or spend time thinking about how to resolve an issue through my own pea-sized, human strength. Or sometimes, she speaks this to me when there is cause for praise and thanksgiving for an answer to prayer. These three words cause me to lift my eyes to our forever faithful Lord.
How can I serve and help you?
She will say this to me, often as a new week begins, or before her day off from work that week. It is a question that is seeking to lighten a load or bless me in some way. I often don’t have a great answer or a laundry list of things to do, but the question itself is one that reminds me we are best friends and co-laborers.