Silent Treatment

Silent Treatment photo

I never would have considered myself very competitive until recently.  I’m not sure if I’ve become more competitive or if I’ve just identified something that was always there.  Anybody else out there wonder if they’ve changed over time or if you just get to know yourself better as the years roll by?

Being in a lasting relationship with the same person has given me opportunity to realize this streak; I have to win.

To win what, you ask?

If you have to ask, you’re already a better person than me.

There is a real desire in me to win every argument.   Don’t judge me too harshly, I know there’s a group of us out there who have fought over the years with the sole purpose of winning.  Am I right? Whenever “issues” arise, and inevitability, if there are two people trying to live together issues WILL arise, resolving them was only possible if I was the winner of the “discussion.”

I know, you’re glad you’re not married to me.  I can be impossible.

I’ve worked long and hard not to be such a difficult person.  I’ve read scripture, memorized it and asked God to change my heart.  And He has, I am forever grateful. BUT, occasionally I get a wild hair, and some of my former behavior comes barreling up out of my soul like a bull on the loose and I can’t seem to stop it.

I had hoped those days were behind me.

I say, “I hoped” because I had a “moment” with my darling husband recently that sent me reeling back about ten years in personal growth.

It wasn’t pleasant.

The past few weeks I’ve been in a Bible study with some church lady friends and I am learning so much.  Among the many things we’ve talked about, our personal relationships has been my favorite.  I love people, but I have a hard time letting my guard down sometimes.  I find it easier if I keep up the “wall” so I don’t get hurt or hurt someone.

In our study we talked about having healthy relationships where we feel safe and don’t always have to be in control.

I’ve learned that’s what my “wall” is, my way of keeping control of the situation or relationship or both.

My husband and I were in the car recently talking away about everything and nothing, I was enjoying it, I assumed he was too.  I was IN THE MIDDLE of a sentence when he suddenly reaches forward and turns the radio up loud enough to drown out my voice.   Literally, it drowned out my voice completely.

First I was stunned and then I was livid.

I mean, really?!

If he didn’t want to listen to what I was saying, all he had to do was say so.

And I told him that in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS.

Well, actually, there was no “speaking” involved.  I quietly picked up my phone and began to aimessly scroll through social media.  In my mind I rehearsed all the reasons why what he’d done was completely unacceptable.  Unkind. Unthinkable. Uncaring.

Unforgivable.

So, in exchange for what he had done, I gave him the silent treatment.

Let him listen to the radio, I seethed to myself, the radio was all he’d get for the next hour until we reached our destination.  He’d be sick of the radio by the time I was done.

Sorry if this offends you, it’s just the unedited truth.

There we sat, me scrolling through social media, too blind with anger to see a darn thing and he profusely apologizing once he’d realized what he’d done.

He’d hurt my feelings and therefore awakened the dragon of my desire to be in control; of the situation or relationship or both.   If you hurt me, you pay.  That was my message, and he was getting it LOUD and CLEAR.  Meanwhile, he felt terrible.  All he’d meant to do was share an 80’s song from the radio.

As I was sitting there, the miles passing by in perfect silence, because he’d had the good sense to turn off the radio by then, the Lord began to deal with my heart.   Hadn’t we just discussed in Bible study how we need to quit trying to control those we love with emotional blackmail or the silent treatment.

Still I sat there in silence, determined to “win” and get my point across.  Honestly, I’m not even sure what my point was?  Don’t turn up the radio while I’m talking, maybe?  I’m still not sure why I couldn’t just say that without falling headlong into ridiculous behavior.

But, since I had started the silence, I was determined not to be the one to break it.

He would have to speak first, and then I would WIN.

Don’t ask me what I was winning, I’m not sure, but I’m guessing it had to do with my pride.

As I sat there in silence, I realized I’d come to a crisis of belief.   I could continue in my bad behavior or I could decide then and there to let it go and move on.  I wish I could say I immediately broke the silence, but I didn’t.

I argued with the Lord a bit.

Pride doesn’t die easy.

After all, what he’d done was rude, even though I’d misinterpreted it.  I was talking, after all, he could’ve waited until I was done, that would’ve been the polite thing to do.  But, he really didn’t mean to drown me out like I’d assumed, he wanted to share something with me.

Back and forth it went in my head.

Finally, after several miles of wrestling in my mind about whether or not I would have the last word in this situation, the Lord told me to speak.

So I spoke.

Ugh!   He can be so bossy sometimes!

My throat was tight when I finally spoke, and all I could think to say was, “Can’t believe it’s spring already.”  Kind of sounds like something you’d say in polite conversation with a stranger.  It felt like someone had a hold of my vocal chords.  I literally had to push the words out.

He quickly responded and we slowly fell into comfortable conversation.

As we talked I quietly thanked God for helping me put into practice something I’d learned.  Sometimes l learn a truth and the Lord has to test me on it in four thousand different ways to make sure I get the idea.  I guess I’m thick headed.  By the time he’s done, it’s burned into my soul. But, time has a way of making me forget, so I have to learn the lesson again and again.

There’s a verse that’s been rolling around in my head lately, it has to do with being tested and considering it “pure joy” when we are put through something hard; a test of character.  It’s so important that we recognize a test when we are going through it and then equally important that we pass it.  If we don’t pass, we keep being tested until we do.

I am so thankful the Lord helped me realize this “radio misunderstanding” was a test and I was able to do the right thing even though I didn’t feel like it.

I passed.

I am sure I will be tested three thousand nine hundred and ninety nine more times, but for this one time, I PASSED!  I still don’t consider it pure joy that I went through it, but I’m working on it.

One little mishap, conversation, relationship, day at a time.

You wonder what song my husband wanted me to hear on the radio?  You know, I don’t even remember, I was too busy talking.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”   James 1:2-4

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Waiting

girl-waiting-for-train-alone

I think I’m having a midlife crisis, or maybe I’m just a bit crazy, or maybe both.  Nothing seems to satisfy this longing in my heart.  This emptiness.  For the first time since I can remember my calendar is not busting at the seams with activity and no one is expecting me to be anywhere.  I find myself wandering around the house aimless from time to time wondering what to do next.

I’m waiting for the next thing.

I have no idea what the next thing is, but I’m standing at my window watching for it as though it holds the key to saving my life, or at least my sanity.

I thought I might travel once the kids were out of the house, turns out I’m not cut out for weekend jaunts.  I don’t recover like I used to.  I find packing the excessive amount of necessities I need for forty eight hours stresses me out more than relaxes me.  I’ve never learned how to pack light.  I drag multiple suitcases filled with way more stuff than I’ll probably ever need, but, I have to bring it, you know, “just in case.”

I thought I would remodel the house or something in these midlife years, but I’m pretty sure I’ll hate the mess it makes so, that’s out.  Is it too weird to move to the college town where my kids live and follow them around?  Why can’t we just agree to be one big happy family under one roof forever?

I’m not handling these empty bedrooms well.

I hear the whistle of the wind outside when I sit on the couch in my outdated living room; has the sound of it always been there?  Our house was always a buzz with activity before so I never noticed.

So, in my distress, I turn to the Lord and pour out my lament.  Where else can I take all my frustrations and fears?  No one else cares like He does.  Well, your momma cares, but since mine is with the Lord, He gets a double dose of me.  I would apologize for that, but, after reading Psalms, I see David was as whiny as me and God loved him, so, I’m pretty sure He’ll keep loving me too.

Day after day I cry out to God, “What do you want me to do with my life now?”  And day after day I hear….

Silence.

Nothing, crickets, nada.

My house is empty.

My mom is gone.

My dad is happily remarried.

All the things I thought I would be doing right now…I’m not doing.

I feel unneeded and sometimes unwanted.

And still God says nothing, so I wait.

Waiting for instruction, waiting for direction, for purpose and for healing… anything.

 

Speaking of waiting, have any of you ever spent any time in a waiting room with a sick child pining for a nurse to call you back only to wait again in the examining room for the doctor?  And if you have, have you ever said to yourself, “I’m so glad to be sitting here waiting, there is nowhere else I’d rather be, this is so great to just sit and wait.”

If you are a soul that loves the wait, I’m pretty sure we won’t be best friends.

Waiting makes me pace the floor, figuratively and in reality.

Waiting makes me frustrated and sassy.

I don’t like it.

It seems the good Lord knows this and has decided I need to grow in this area, so here I sit in the waiting room of my life.

And I’m not happy about it.

I’m trying to be so careful not to fill my days with meaningless activity, I really want my time to be used wisely. BUT, he didn’t get my, “I am bored,” memo so here I am on a weekend dusting the house and looking out the window waiting for life to come barreling though my front door and fill me with purpose.

Yes, that’s what missing these days, purpose.

What is the purpose in all this WAITING?

What could God possibly be doing?

He must’ve forgotten how much he NEEDS me to be out there helping him.

But, no, he tells me in his word he never forgets me, he knows the number of hairs on my head.

So why all the waiting?

I don’t have an answer, maybe I’ll get one sooner or later, but I bet it has something to do with obedience.  Obedience and probably some issues that lie deep within my heart he knows I need to work through.  But, it’s easier to keep “busy.”

It’s hard to stay put when it hurts, it’s hard to rest when it’s uncomfortable.

The Lord has brought me so far, but loss and loss and more loss has left me deeply wounded.   In my zest to be past all of this hurt, I run on and on to the next “thing.”  It’s much easier to HIDE and SUPRESS those painful feelings when you’re too BUSY to think about anything except what’s in front of you at the moment.

I wish the Lord would give me a map or a sheet of instructions of what I’m supposed to be doing right now, wouldn’t that just be helpful?  Then I would get up each day, look at the list and know I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.  It would be so much easier.

But, where’s the relationship in that?

No reason for communication when I could just get out my handy dandy list and follow along for the day.

So, here’s what I’ve established for this “I have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing” period of my life.

I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing.

Brilliant, huh?  You may have been hoping for an insightful answer, but this is all I’ve got.

I’m going to keep praying and lamenting until the Lord shows me what’s next, or until he gets so tired of hearing from me he moves me on to the next season of life.

I may not like all of this waiting and feelings of purposelessness, BUT I am going deal with it.  As a matter of fact, I will deal with whatever emotion or unhealthiness he brings up out of this broken heart.

And while I’m sitting in this waiting room of life, I guess I’ll clean my house or bake cookies or something.

And wait.

“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up on wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not be faint.”  Isaiah 40:31