Friday, February 6, 2009

Why We Need to Watch What We Say

I was told a very wise thing by someone when I first got married. I think it was a non-Christian British friend I had when I first lived overseas as a married woman. She was the only one who spoke English, and I hung out at her house often.

She told me a few things about fights. I would go to her house if things were tough. She lived a good twenty minutes walk away. I learned that walking is good when you are upset. It gives you time to think. I learned that talking to a friend is often good. But she told me, "be careful who you talk to, especially with your parents. You may forgive and forget, but your parents won't. It will be harder for them to see your husband in a friendly light if you talk about your problems to them."

She was wise. I took her advice, and mostly followed it.

This situation I am in right now is difficult for these same reasons. This man, our team leader, the one who has vision problems, thinks I am psychologically damaged, so impossible of a person that anyone would suffer living with me. What hurts is that most of the fodder he has for thinking this has come from my husband. From when he was angry, very angry.

My husband is amazing. He saw that he was wrong. He came and apologized and asked for forgiveness. He is doing well.

But it is the power of words spoken that can not be withdrawn; the words he has spoken over the years to this man still color how he sees me. My husband has apologized and realized he was wrong... but the effect still is there... words repeated back by this man... words that hurt enough the first time through.

Tough situation. Tough also because this man is our leadership.

Tough, too, because I know that my husband shared things I told him in confidence to this man without my permission. Now he uses those things to accuse me of having a mental illness of some sort.

Ah. If only people who have no training in psychiatry would keep their nose out of it.

It lingers. The horribleness of my husband's words in his darkest moments of anger linger on in the shadow of this man who believes them as absolute truth and who takes small snapshots and strings them together to make a movie without seeing the whole picture.

And I have to work with him with grace.

The gentle and quiet spirit. God says it is how we win our unbelieving husbands... perhaps it works with skeptical, critical friend/leader with vision problems.

The thing is - he is really a nice guy. I kind of like him. He has quirks, but I like him. I think he would like me, too, if he got to know me. But he never has invested that time, preferring to see me only through my husband's eyes, and usually only through my husband when he is angry and venting at him.

Reason to see the wisdom in my friend's advice. You may forgive, but people don't forget. Reason to chose wisely people you talk to.

I think my husband chose wisely. Honestly. This man should have been a wise choice. A leader, a long term friend, an older man who should have wisdom and insight. I don't think my husband failed. I don't think this man has any evil desire or vengefulness in him. He is only slightly biased, slightly ignorant, and not near us. He hears things. He visits infrequently. He doesn't understand things, and he has an opinion. Skewed opinion, yes, but definitely not a mean or cruel person.

It still hurts.

I've seen him do something similar - different accusation - but similar to someone else once. I know that it hurt that person, too. It makes me sad. In the end, the situation changed, and I saw him hang his head in his hands and groan that he had taken the word of one against another and he had judged wrong. Yet, he still continues to judge that person wrongly often. I puzzle over it at times. It is, I think, at times the horribleness of the great need in missions and the factor of usefulness. In a disagreement or conflict, leaders will often believe the person they need the most. Not necessarily because they might really believe them if they thought about it, but because they can not wrap their mind around how they would cope without that person who is useful, capable, needed.

It hurts.

I am not angry today, no. There are days I have been angry. But I am sad. Hurt. I feel pre-judged, unknown, condescended to, lied to when I am smiled at to my face and things said behind my back.

And I don't want to fight. It would not honor God. It would not reach the goals we both are reaching for. So I hurt. And I have to love. I have to follow this leadership in a way that honors God. I am not responsible for his actions, but I am for mine. I have to honor him and follow well.

It is slightly amusing that I am writing for women, for women who are seen as second class humans, whose voice is disregarded, whose value is degraded, who are seen as weak, and accused of anything and no accusation against them needs proof; and in only a very mild way, I am facing the same attitude here. I am not accusing him of being like those men, not at all. But there is a small similarity.

It is not about me. It isn't. And I have to know that, knowing in not just a head way, but in a walking way. I have to walk this one through.

But... I know a God who sees me, who delights in me, who is pleased with me, who sings over me. And one day, He will lift up my head. And until then, if I have to face pain because this world, including ourselves, is not perfect,.... well, I face it with Him.

Thanks. It is good to have people, women, to talk to. Being heard takes much of the pain at times. Pain hurts more in solitude.


Shan in Japan said...

Thanks! It is good to be reminded of how to handle people who misunderstand us and yet are in leadership. As a single woman in ministry there are a few around, thankfully not close by, who misunderstand me. I often have a hard time respecting them even if they are in leadership above me. You are right. I am not responsible for their actions. I am responsible for mine. Thank you for the reminder. Have a good weekend!

Sharon said...

It is good to know that Jesus has a way of bringing the truth into the light. Just remember to love, love, love...for love covers the multitude of sins.(1Pet.4:8)

Becky Aguirre said...

Hmmm...yes, this would be very hard. Good reminder about discretion not just in who we talk to, but with our words as well.

Had a thought, for what it's worth. Are you and DH to the point where it might be possible for you to go to this man together and discuss this with him? Or at least pray for an opportunity to do so? It sounds like he needs to know that he has a tendency towards misjudging and not offering grace and God might could use your life to minister to him about this? It's a scary thing...would be really hard for me if I were in the same situation! :o At any rate, it's a thought that came to me while I was reading your post...may or may not be worth pursuing, but definitely worth praying about! :)

Karis said...

You're right that pain is lessened when it is shared with those who will bear one another's burdens. I am so sorry about the pain. I am a "fixer", but the older I get, the more I realize that the things I want to fix the most are out of my control. Glad you have this outlet to share with a community of sisters rather than living in isolation.