“Stop making such a big deal of things,” my husband, Steve, reprimanded me a week ago as we rode in the car on our vacation up to the Midwest.
“You were the one who started this,” I insisted.
I reminded him of how our latest trek into pettiness had begun. He misinterpreted a comment I made, became upset, and with my help he turned a molehill into a mountain. We were still talking—or rather obsessing–about it an hour later.
I admitted to him my contribution to keeping the “petty party” going.
We agreed we both had this problem. This time we had failed to say the four words we discovered recently which abort these emotional trivial pursuits that can leave us feeling battered and bruised.
As I oohed over the beautiful autumn leaves that flashed by along the roadside, I contemplated my problem with pettiness.
This habit was something I had learned in my childhood. Even though I hated that people in my growing-up years excelled at being petty, I had become skilled in the practice of it. Perfectionism, fear, and the need to prove myself right (and thus worthy) fueled my dedication to the pursuit of pettiness.
Although I’ve come a long way, I still fight the battle against this relationship crusher.
Steve and I realized within the past few months how often we enter into this pattern. This revelation came from observing someone who has this problem.
This individual gets upset over minor matters that seem as significant as a child screaming, “Mom, he’s looking at me.” She has reported to Steve and me miniscule transgressions–which she sees as horrific offences–that she has had to endure from someone in her life. In one email she proclaimed, “This is a nightmare!”
At first Steve and I judged her and laughed at how petty she could be. Our amusement ended when we realized how often we do the same thing. This person’s statement has helped us become aware when we’re moving into pettiness.
Whenever one of us complains or has a “hissy fit” (as my mom used to say) about some minor offense or inconvenience, one of us says to the other, “This is a nightmare!” with all the drama of a Shakespearean actor.
These four words cause us to stop rather than dragging out these petty exchanges.
On that particular day while traveling in the car, we had both forgotten our “This is a nightmare” statement, so we spent way too long building our molehill into a mountain. The good news is: Even if we do erect a mountain, Jesus promises He can help us to remove it.
And Jesus answered them, Truly I say to you, if you have faith (a firm relying trust) and do not doubt…even if you say to this mountain, Be taken up and cast into the sea, it will be done. Matthew 21:21 AMP
Lord, give me the grace to deal with all that fuels my pettiness. I see now how this pursuit gets in the way of my pursuing You and Your will and robs me of joy. I am ready to be delivered completely. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
How about you? Do you find yourself slipping into pettiness in your relationships? Bring this issue to the Lord and He will assist you in being set free.