Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
Strengthening the ties
that make us tight
A remark about a man and a woman got my attention. A friend said, “They have been tight for a long time now. I would not be surprised if they got married.” I had not heard the word “tight” used like that before. I liked it.
Tight, of course, is a common word used in many different ways. The score of a game may be tight when the teams are evenly matched. The seating may be tight when people are densely packed together in a building. Shoes or a collar may be too tight. Violin strings must be tight to produce the right sound. A hunter will sit tight while waiting for a deer or turkey to appear. Pants or skirts may be a little too tight. Busy people speak of tight schedules. Writers like to compose tight sentences. A stingy person is a tightwad. And tight is used in several other phrases which I shall not mention!
I rather like the idea of using the word tight to describe a strong relationship. I am tight with several men who share a common faith and enjoy a weekly lunch together. Each of us is aware that we don’t eat together because of the food; we share a meal because we feel blessed by the fellowship we share. We are tight. Sharing a meal helps us become tighter. The tighter we are , the more we trust one another.
Over many years I have striven to be tight with my church staff. That means we are committed to each other and to our common goal of serving our church family. We are not merely casual friends; we are tight as servants of Jesus Christ. People who become tight learn to love one another, which really means wanting the best for each other.
My wife Dean and I were “tight” for a few years as teenagers before we married. And during 67 years of marriage we have grown even tighter. In our early years, the lean years, money was tight. We had to cut many corners to survive. When you wake up one morning with four growing boys to feed, you have to be tight. We often laugh about the tons of “hamburger helper” we served our boys. Our son Steve still reminds us how bad “powdered milk” used to taste. Our budget was tight but we made it.
Our boys fought with one another when they were young. They recall Mama pulling them apart and quoting scripture to them: “Love one another!” But if some other kid picked a fight with one of our boys, he quickly had more than he could handle. Our sons were tight. In high school three boys jammed our son Mark up against his locker and demanded his lunch money. About that time his older brother Matt did a body slam into the three boys, who took a good look at Matt and ran for their lives. From then on, other students were told, “Don’t mess with Mark; he’s got a brother!” I know as a father that parents feel good when their children are tight.
There are effective ways to strengthen the ties that bind us together and make us tight. One important way is to express positive feelings for one another every day. To do so we must constrain our tendency to say negative things. Being negative is natural to us; we all have 20/20 vision when it comes to seeing what others are doing wrong. Dean and I find it helpful to say to each other, “I feel loved when you …. (do a particular thing that blesses me).” Compare that with “It irritates me when you do that!” One builds up; the other tears down.
Encouragement is a great tool to enhance your tightness with someone, whether it is your spouse, a family member, a co-worker or a friend. Everyone is blessed by encouragement.
Everyone needs encouragement. Everyone who is wise will offer encouragement to those with whom a tight relationship is desired.
No couple, no family and no team can remain tight without forgiveness. We should always be ready to forgive and to ask for forgiveness. Only perfect people do not need a forgiving spirit. And there are no perfect people. So the beautiful words, “Please forgive me,” should be on our lips often if we wish to remain tight with the significant others in our lives.
Tightness with others is weakened by whining, so we must guard against it. Whining tears people apart. It drives others away and kills the spirit. But a merry heart attracts others and heals wounded relationships. Make this the 11th Commandment: Whine not!
When our children rode a merry-go-round, we urged them to “hold on tight.” I am blessed when my wife says, “I love you.” But over our years together, the words I often said to her when I was broken, troubled or bewildered, were simply these: “Hold me tight!” Her tight embrace often helped me believe I could get up and go again.
It has been that, holding each other tight, which has strengthened the ties that bind us together as husband and wife. That tightness means so much that whenever some problem is pulling us apart, I find myself singing in my heart the little chorus, “Bind us together, Lord, bind us together in love.” Truth is, He alone can make us truly tight – and tough enough to handle the demands of life. + + +