Over the last few years, we’ve had a difficult relationship within my husband’s business. Certainly, his business is full of challenges, which he always meets, head-on, and takes them all in stride. After all, it’s all in a day’s work. However, this was different. No matter what he did, this person found fault, using personal attacks. It caused so many challenges that it began to suck the joy out of a decades-old career that my man’s always loved. This caused stress to trickle down to me, too, as I watched that joy ebb away, and be replaced by a determined focus on fighting that bone of contention.

Bones of contention. According to a quick internet search, that phrase dates back to the 18th century and the act of throwing a bone to a pack of dogs and letting them fight it out. Remove the bone, and they back down from one another. That’s a really great visual, because it’s exactly how the whole thing feels. Constant reaction to that bone stirring the pot. Always on the defensive, because you’re feeling like if you don’t continually hold your ground, you’ll lose it completely.

Our bone of contention was suddenly, amazingly, plucked from our lives. It moved on and took all those crazy challenges with it. The joy has begun to return, cautiously at first, but now with more gusto. It’s trickling down to me, too, and I see a spring returning to his step, and a bold proactiveness, defense taking a back seat. It’s wide-sweeping and thrilling to experience.

It occurred to me that it’s highly possible that I’ve been a bone of contention before. Sometime in my life (hopefully not now!), I’ve probably acted in that manner, putting someone on the defensive and attacking out of my own insecurities. After own experience, I shudder to think I’ve made anyone – ANYONE – feel that kind of stress. If I’m going to throw myself into a pack of people, I don’t want it to be for the reason of causing a contentious row. I want it to be to cause gracious jubilance, spreading happiness, and causing people to want to share in a good thing, rather than tear each other down.

Forget the bone; I want to be a candy bar of joy.

 

Hatred starts fights,¬† but love pulls a quilt over the bickering.” Proverbs 10:12 MSG

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works…” Proverbs 10:12 NLT