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!
The Respect Dare takes me places inside me that I forgot were there. Dare 18 says this: “Choose from this day forward to speak fewer words and to make those count.”
I could have completely skipped this Dare and still told you that I talk too much and say too little. I’m taking the work here seriously, though, so I dutifully answered the questions about how we communicate with others in term of our speaking and listening.
Next thing I knew, I was remembering issues from early in our marriage. Here’s part of what I wrote in my journal:
When I was newly married, I tried to avoid complaining—and I ended up resentful. My husband grew up in a house where his father kept all his shoes on the stairs—each step had one pair of shoes over to the side. So my husband thought he should keep his shoes on the floor of our bedroom. I wanted things in the closet. He didn’t believe everything should have a place, so all my efforts to make us a home resulted in me taking care of his things, or me seething inside because things were out of order, or me feeling unloved because he didn’t care enough about me to do something as simple as close the cupboard after he got a glass out.
I remember just giving up. I’ve never been good at home-making. I’m horrible at it—but my efforts to make us a home led me to feelings of despair and being unloved, so I quit trying. I never knew how to find a balance.
And how did I get here with a Dare about fighting fair? Why am I back at the beginning of my marriage, feeling so unloved because my husband wouldn’t let me make a home in the only way I knew how? It isn’t fighting that’s the problem. It’s knowing what is worth fighting over. I never learned this at all. Early in my life (oh, great, here I am back at Dare 2, all over again!), I learned to avoid conflict. Don’t fight. Don’t yell. Yet sometimes, it comes out—and because I spent so much time avoiding it instead of learning how to do it well and respectfully, horrible and hateful things come out of my mouth. It takes a lot to make me angry, but then I become vicious.
Okay, now I’m looking back at the Dare. It doesn’t say not to speak. It says to save your words for when they count.
And one of the things I do best is connect with other people. How will I do that without my words?
All I can see here is that this Dare is asking me to hold my feelings back—or to not have the feelings at all. If I don’t have my feelings, then who am I? It’s asking me not to talk so much to people. If I don’t talk with people to establish and maintain relationship, then I will feel alone. If my conversations are all about the other people and not about my feelings at all, then I become invisible and don’t matter. Oh, crud. Tears again
This Dare is asking me to be something other than what I am. I just can’t do it. It’s too fast. Why is it so hard for me to let go and just accept that the only thing that truly matters is that I am a daughter of God, saved by the blood of Jesus? Why can’t I just say “thank you” and move on with life? What am I holding onto? And why can’t I just seem to hold on to Jesus instead of this junk from my past that I didn’t know was still there? Why does it always feel like I’m slipping away from what truly matters?
Read these other bloggers to learn about their experiences with the Respect Dare:
The Respect Dare Blog (author Nina Roesner)