Smalley's Secret Key to Lasting Love

Blue Fist
Adapted from "Fist" by David Shankbone.
"Keep your anger level as low as possible," said Dr. Gary Smalley when he spoke on Sunday at Mclean Bible Church in Virginia. Smalley is a family counselor, president and founder of Smalley Relationship Center and author of numerous family relationship books.

"Be angry, but don't stay angry." He quoted Ephesians 4:26 and said it was okay to be angry, but he emphasized: "Don't stay there." Let it go. Don't keep thinking about and reliving the anger.

"If we stay angry," he warned, "we move into darkness and can't know the love of God."

He went on to explain some of the damage suppressed anger could do to us physically, emotionally, spiritually and to our relationships.

"You can't bury anger dead. You always bury it alive," he added.

So what can you do? Forgiveness frees us from staying angry. Smalley said he has become a professional forgiver. He now expects to get hurt, frustrated and angry, anxious and stressed. People and situations present opportunities for us every day. So, he's learned to forgive so that he doesn't stay angry. He encouraged us to do the same.

Then Smalley talked about the role honor can play to keep relationships healthy. He quoted Romans 12:10. One translation puts it this way: "Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves."

"You can't really love someone if you don't value them," Smalley said. "Keep your honor for people in life high."

From time to time, Smalley illustrated his points by holding up a green fist or oversized diamond ring. The clenched fist looked like it might have come from an Incredible Hulk costume. Once when he held it up, he said: "Anger kills honor." Then, he repeated his earlier advice to be angry but don't stay angry.

How? He held up a diamond ring King Kong might have bought, and said, "Honor kills anger."

Honor. Placing high value on. Esteeming. Respecting.

Smalley said even people who are opposites could learn to honor one another. He shared stories of how he and his wife who have very different temperaments have learned to get along and work through irritations and frustrations. She was a planner and loved routine, he said. He was a dreamer. Even without trying, they could frustrate one another, as you might imagine. His stories were hilarious. And the conflicts he described sounded so true-to-life.

His point? Choosing to honor one another instead of staying angry has helped them through nearly 49 years of marriage.

This principle isn't only for couples. Smalley said he has even learned to honor his enemies. He doesn't feel like it sometimes, but he's learned to do it anyway. "It is such a powerful force."

So what's the secret key to lasting love? Honor.

It's a choice. The type of choice that can make us more like Christ.

I needed those words on Sunday. And, I'm sure, I'll need to be reminded again. Soon. These are hard-to-live-by words sometimes in a messy world.

Buy, I know they work. Whenever I've chosen forgiveness and focused on honoring another or valuing a tough situation, good things, even love, have had a chance to grow.

How about you? Have you seen Smalley's secret key to help love? Do you know another key secret? Please share by leaving a comment. I value your thoughts.


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