Soften, did you say soften? I don't know, sometimes I'd rather just bean him on the head, you might think. Why would I want to soften him? Roast him maybe, but soften?
OK, now that I have your attention, I want to share a story with you that someone told me many long years ago. I'm not sure it's true, but it is one that sticks in your mind.... at least it did with me. I don't remember exactly how the story was told to me, so I'm doing my own paraphrase, with the same end in sight.
A woman and her husband were close to divorce and she went to her pastor, hoping for his blessing. She spent an hour pouring out all the reasons to justify why she should leave this man, listing his many faults. Finally, she sat back in her chair & waited for the pastor to try to talk her out of leaving. After all, that was his job, right?
What she heard shocked her and certainly made her sit up & take notice.
"It sounds as though your husband hasn't been at all easy to live with. I have just one suggestion that you might want to consider."
Her eyes narrowed and she braced herself. Here's where he tried to change her mind.
"I have a way for you to really make him suffer and regret your leaving. You know, kind of pay him back for all he's done to you."
The wife listened with glee as the pastor went on to share his idea.
"For the next thirty days, do everything he wants you to do, without complaint. Listen to him, wait on him, treat him like a king. Don't nag him or try to get him to do anything for you. Try to find as many things as you can that will make him happy. Then, at the end of thirty days, leave him. He'll be heartbroken at losing such a wonderful wife and see what a jerk he's been. It'll cause him deep pain and anguish to lose you, because he'll realize what he's losing."
A wide grin spread over the wife's face. "I'll do it," she declared. "Won't he be miserable when I walk out that door and tell him I'm never coming back!" She left the pastor's office and spent the next few hours plotting all the things she could do for her husband to make herself invaluable in his eyes.
Four weeks went by, then six, with no word from the woman. One day the pastor met her in town, and with a twinkle in his eye, asked if her husband was terribly broken up when she left him.
"Left him? Why in the world would I want to do that? Why, he's a wonderful man! He says the nicest things to me and he's been breaking his back trying to fix things around the house. I can't imagine why you'd think I'd want to leave him. No sir, that man is a jewel and I plan on keeping him for a long time."
The pastor went away with a quiet smile. It never failed to work!
So, the next time your husband (or wife for that matter, if any men are reading this) gets crusty and hard, and you want to bop him on the head, try softening him up instead. Putting others needs ahead of our own has a way of boomeranging to our benefit. I can testify to the power of the pastors tongue in cheek advice...the Lord has a way of blessing those who step outside themselves to put other first, seeking to bless them instead....Yes, the wife's motive was wrong, but the pricipal remains the same.
Have a wonderful, blessed week & I hope you'll join me again!