I’m something of a word geek. I inherited from my father an interest in etymology. Sometimes I’ll hold a word in my head for a day or two, thinking through all the different things it means and used to mean.
To encourage: to add in the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear.
One of the challenges in the Respect Dare is to do a self-assessment. One of the areas is in that of Communication. Well, pride does goeth before a fall. I should have known better, especially as one of my favorite expressions is, “Today’s peacock is tomorrow’s feather duster.” I wrote my post for that Dare a couple days ago. I was thrilled that there was one area—communication—where I think I rock. So that’s what I wrote in the post. (You’ll see it tomorrow.) I was quite prideful of being a good communicator. So I didn’t even take that section as seriously as I did the others.
Then, yesterday and today I had a series of communication-related incidents that have reminded me that I’m not “all that and a bag of chips” (I overheard this expression in a crowd once and loved it.)
These incidents occurred in several areas of my life. At work, I had a situation with someone who was quite distraught. When I responded with what I thought were kind and caring words, she told me she was tired of being placated. When I offered to help this woman find her way to my supervisor’s office, she yelled at me that she knew where she was going. When I said nothing, she snapped at me that I wasn’t listening. Even though I knew this woman spoke out of deep frustration with something completely unrelated to me, I questioned myself. Did I say the wrong things? Did I say them insincerely? Did I not provide the right facial expression or gesture?
In a non-blog area of my online life, I said some things out of my heart that were perceived as being something other than what I intended. One of my hot-button issues in life is not being understood. When I learn that I haven’t communicated accurately and fully, I have a tendency to spin in a vicious circle of panic. I questioned everything I wrote. I tried to defend myself, which just made the situation worse. I questioned my motives. I cried tears of despair, worried that I hurt people I’ve come to care about and respect. I asked God to provide some encouragement for me and to help me understand what He wants me to do. I have an obligation tonight in another part of my online life, and I worried that I would create a problem there as well.
And then, tonight, in my marriage….oy. My husband and I had just gone to Qdoba to pick up burritos for dinner. On our way home, we drove past a strip mall that had a dance team of teenage girls in, well, short dance outfits jumping and jiggling around. My husband was trying to look. I’ve known him a long time. I’ve NEVER seen the man look inappropriately at women. (Truly, I am blessed by that.) Instead of either asking him why he was looking or just being patient and saying nothing, I said, “Keep driving. Don’t look. You’re not a creeper.” Really? Where did that come from? I was afraid that people would see the middle-aged man looking at the bouncing teenagers and think he was a creepy old man. Instead of being kind or attempting to communicate AND LISTEN, I said words that hurt my husband, who thought I believed he was ogling the girls. Great. My marriage is the one thing that I’ve been working so hard on, yet I was messing up there, too. My husband was hurt. He yelled. And yeah, I realized in Dare 2 just how much I love yelling—so while that reflection was still fresh in my mind and I was still kind of raw from the other things, I sat and felt like a horrible person because it turns out I can’t communicate worth a darn after all. At that point, I said, “Okay, God. I stink at communicating. I get it. How do I move forward?”
I apologized to my husband and walked into the house.
God had my encouragement waiting for me.
I had a message from my boss, thanking me for handling the situation at work yesterday so well. I found supportive messages in my inbox from online friends and strangers, telling me they understood me. And then I turned around, into the arms of my husband, who apologized for yelling at me.
And then I knew…this was not about communication after all. It was about my pride. I prayed months ago for God to help me keep my pride in check in several areas. I’d forgotten about that prayer—but God had remembered. He reminded me to check my pride—and then He encouraged me in all the areas where I’ve struggled the past two days.
And God is always God.
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