The hand-painted sign hanging above my desk reads, "Thou Shalt Not Whine." Not the eleventh commandment, but close.
Guess who gave me the "no-whine" sign? My dear husband.
He knows I need that daily reminder because I'm a world-class whiner. When life doesn't unfold as planned, I whine. When someone disappoints me, I whine.
I'm working on changing, honey. Truly, I am. Because nothing wears out a man like a nagging woman. In Proverbs we're told, "A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day" (Proverbs 27:15). Come meet a woman whose whining made her rich, yet cost her everything.
Secrets and Lies
The reluctant hero of the story was Samson, who "fell in love with a woman in the Valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah" (Judges 16:4). Big, strong Samson was a thorn in the side of the Philistines; they visited this valley girl and said, "See if you can lure him into showing you the secret of his great strength" (Judges 16:5).
Delilah used her man's greatest weakness-his love for her-to cut him down. The sad truth is, we often gripe around those who love us most, as if testing their commitment: "Can you hear me now? Can you love me still?"
Delilah had an added incentive for testing Samson's love: The Philistines offered her a boatload of money.
Our girl went for it: "Tell me the secret of your great strength and how you can be tied up and subdued" (Judges 16:6). At least she was semihonest.
But when Samson made up a story about seven fresh cords being sufficient to hold him, then easily broke free of them, Delilah served him a bitter cup of whine: "You have made a fool of me; you lied to me" (Judges 16:10).
Those of us adept at whining love to point accusing fingers-"this is your fault" or "you did thus-and-such to me"-instead of taking responsibility for our actions. True, Samson fibbed and made her look foolish. But Delilah was far from truthful about her motive. And very far from loving.
The High Cost of Nagging
After Samson played the game twice more, Delilah went for the jugular: "How can you say, 'I love you,' when you won't confide in me?" (Judges 16:15). Women have been singing this song for centuries: "If you really love me … "
Sometimes it works. We get what we want. We win the argument. We taste sweet victory. But then it backfires. We damage our relationships. We belittle our loved ones. We grind their affection for us down to dust.
"With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was tired to death" (Judges 16:16). Oh, have I been there, nagging and prodding until my husband couldn't bear another word. Worn to the nub, just like Samson. "So he told her everything" (Judges 16:17).
Delilah gained her silver, but lost her man and disappeared from Scripture, while Samson rose from his ruined life to become one of the heroes of our faith "whose weakness was turned to strength" (Hebrews 11:34).
"Thou shalt not whine." Good advice for those of us with a tendency to snip, snip, snip at the people we most love. When I'm tempted to complain, I hold my tongue-almost an aerobic activity-until I think of something kind to say instead. "The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down" (Proverbs 14:1).
Delilah tore down her man; I'm building toward a happier ending. How about you?
Liz Curtis Higgs is the author of more than 20 books, including her nonfiction best-seller, Bad Girls of the Bible (WaterBrook Press). She lives with her husbandin Kentucky. Visit her website: www.LizCurtisHiggs.com.
Copyright © 2006 by the author or Christianity Today/Today's Christian Woman magazine.
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January/February 2006, Vol. 28, No. 1, Page 16