Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Blame Game

God is good.  He is faithful and steadfast.  He is loyal and trustworthy.  

Today something was festering in my heart.  I needed to talk to my husband about it, but I knew it would have to wait a day or two.  I anticipated conflict and tension.  

But, God is good.

This afternoon as I was driving I was struck by my own error.  I realized I had started this thing that I needed to talk to him about.  So, when my husband called tonight, I admitted it to him.  We talked and after I got off the phone, I was simply thankful.  God knew.  I wonder if it's part of our sinful nature to automatically jump to the conclusion that whatever is wrong is someone else's fault.  Actually, I think it is.

Have you watched any episodes of Modern Family?  Do you remember Married With Children?  I watched one episode once.  I figured I ought to know what it was like so I understood what people were talking about when they refer to it.  But, I knew from descriptions of the show that I was concerned about the "modern values" of the show and I shouldn't be critical of something that I've never even seen.  So, I watched one episode.  It was the one where the middle daughter was valedictorian of her 8th grade class and was set to make a speech.  I was struck by one particular thing that I saw throughout the show.  Everyone picked at each other.  Sometimes everyone thought it was funny, but then other times they ganged up on each other and picked all together at one person.  The picking and sarcastic criticism of one another led to this perpetual cycle throughout the show.

I know it's just a show.  The problem is--this is what happens in real life, too.  Someone gets irritated, so they pick at another person and that person picks back.  This happens a lot in marriages.  I remember that it used to happen a lot to my husband and I when we were first married.  The first few years I said a lot out loud.  That was bad.  The next few years, I stuffed it all inside.  That was bad, too.  Then, the next years have been a journey of me figuring out how and when to say things--and a lot of trusting God.

Here's my theory of what often happens.  We're told over and over in the media that if we don't stand up for ourselves, then we've been walked on--and basically that we should never be walked on.  So, when someone says something to us that is critical or is irritated with us and we don't think they have a right to be or rubs the wrong way, then we react.  Then, that person reacts in kind.  Then, we react in kind...  And so the cycle goes.  Sometimes it's little picking and sometimes it's big.  It leaves this bad taste in one's mouth.  

So, how do we stop it?  

I think by stopping ourselves.  God tells us that He will be our defender.  Don't react right away.  Wait till you're both calm then talk about it.  John Piper explains what it means to bear with one another in love in his book This Momentary Marriage (good food for another post).   

I've also had a lot of Bible studies, older women, and the Bible tell me something else... to look at my own heart first. 

English Standard Version (©2001)  Matthew 7:5
You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

I'll be honest.  That verse has at times has been hard for me to receive.  And my husband, unfortunately, knows it.  I'm learning.  I know he knows that too.  

So, today seeing the log in my own eye was the answer.  It doesn't mean that I'm less in any kind of way as the world would have me believe.  I'm not crushed.  I'm broken and God put me back together.

I remember my dad telling me in high school that if someone hit him, he was going to hit them back harder.  I responded by telling him that if someone was mean to me, that meant that they were hurting in the first place.  Hurting them back wasn't going to help me or the other person.  I know the world would have us believe what my dad told me.  

I'm worried.  But several friends have shared with me or said things just in the course of conversation that have reminded me of how easily we can fall into this cycle.  I don't know if you've ever found yourself in this cycle in your marriage, but if you have please know that I'm praying for you.  I know that probably sounds strange, but I'm going to pray that God will break this cycle in the lives of anyone who reads this.  I know that probably sounds crazy and impersonal, but it's not. 

And I don't mean that everyone should be doormats.  I'm afraid that someone might even think that I think a person should endure abuse.  I don't.  That's not what I'm talking about.  I'm talking about the picking. The kind of picking you see on Modern Family or Married with Children or Jon and Kate Plus 8 (when it used to be on) or...  

Now, I really need to get to bed.

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