The Unbroken Woman blog is hosting The Respect Dare. Starting July 10, participants will be using Nina Roesner’s The Respect Dare: 40 Days to a Deeper Connection with God and Your Husband as a guide, posting about their journey. And I will be doing it with you!
I’ll say this about the Respect Dare: it’s challenging me to look inside myself. I am not loving this, but at the same time, I am learning some things about myself. Several patterns are emerging as I see a picture of who and how I have been in my life. Sometimes I’m swirling in a morass of muck as I extract the “what I learned and how it shaped my behavior” from the feelings and memories.
In Dare 6, we are challenged to do one act of kindness for our husbands without complaining or expecting anything. How hard can that be? That should be simple. And in a way, it is. My act is laundry-related. No big deal, right? I already have it half-way done.
Here’s one of the common threads I’m learning in these Dares: being understood is a big deal to me. (And yes, that even shows up while I’m thinking about washing my husband’s socks.)
The verse for this chapter is Phillippians 2:14: Do everything without complaining or arguing. (NIV)
I often complain and argue while I’m in the process of doing something that’s been asked of me. I’ve always done this. If anyone has commented on it, my response has been along the lines of, “Why does it matter if I’m complaining if I’m actually doing the thing you asked me to do?” What I’m realizing about the complaining is that it is my way of making sure my feelings are out and presented so I am understood. Honestly, why do I even have feelings about doing things for other people? I don’t know why, but since I do, I have a compulsion to have them recognized and understood.
We are asked what would happen if we communicated more factually and less emotionally with our husbands. So here’s part of my journal related to this question: Even when I’m stating the facts, I state them with emotion. The outcome would be that he is happy that he doesn’t have to deal with emotions. The outcome for me is that I would be suppressing myself for him. When I think of it that way, communication becomes something with huge implications for me.
And then we’re asked why choosing a good attitude doesn’t make us a doormat. Whoa. True, choosing a good attitude doesn’t make you a doormat. But why is “good attitude” represented by sticking to the facts and communicating in a way my husband likes? What if “good attitude” means something different to me? Nina, dear, you’re rushing me too fast. I’m not here yet.
I’ve bit my tongue (literally) a couple times already today, trying hard not to interrupt him while he’s talking, even if I’m in the middle of doing something else and I’m not interested in what he’s saying. I can just feel a bit of ever-present tension in me. I can’t stand squashing myself down, and that’s exactly how this feels. I’m trying not to argue with him even when he’s wrong. (Okay, even when I think he’s wrong. Is that better?) How can I get into the habit of silencing myself at some times without having that become a permanent self-silencing?
These questions in the Dares about how something isn’t a doormat seem perfectly reasonable the way they’re worded. But I’m having visceral responses where I’m feeling small, irrelevant, invisible, and non-existent. How can this possibly be the process of growth? Why do I have to be broken in order to become a Stepford wife? And why do I think that this is going to make me a Stepford wife? Do I think this process will make me just like everyone else? I don’t think I will lose my self, but I think that deep inside, that is my fear. I have no idea how to let this one go.
There, see? I told you I was going to be transparent and share my mess. As this mess pours out of me, I’m seeing patterns and common threads. Is it possible that at some point I will be able to rearrange all these pieces of me into something that won’t be quite so messy?
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