Tuesday, March 31, 2009

P4E.103 Where Angels Fear to Tread

"Fools rush in where angels fear to tread." Alexander Pope

(First, please know that I write, not because I've arrived, but to journal my journey. None of these thoughts are "finished" just like Paul said that he had not "arrived." I'm not in a position to "teach" anybody anything. I write to acknowledge my shortcomings, encourage myself, remind myself, urge myself on. I know that not everyone is like me, but if whoever reads is encouraged, reminded, urged on, so much the better.)

One night recently, I was pretty rough on my son, Ben. I needed information that I thought he had to fill out some forms. He didn't have it and was questioning Gwen about where it was. I thought he was being disrespectful towards Gwen. I thought I was trying to protect her from his disrespect, but Gwen didn't feel protected or that she needed protection. I also felt that I was being misunderstood and was trying to clarify what I meant. But I was getting flustered and frustrated with the whole discussion. I felt like I was rushing in where I shouldn't be going, and it showed in my voice and posture and face. I made the situation very tense. The conversation ended up with Gwen calling me "anal" (as in anal retentive personality traits, namely: stubbornness and a compulsion for control) and Ben telling me, "this isn't where you work."

I acknowledged that I was out of line and apologized to them both later. But, the apology isn't enough, really. I need to change my behavior. I'm re-re-reminding myself of this strategy:

That whenever I feel flustered and frustrated, whenever I feel misunderstood and that I need to defend and clarify my position, I immediately stop and be quiet. I back up, retreat, flee. I swallow my pride (or whatever it is that makes me feel I need to defend myself), I swallow my warped sense of justice. I swallow my desire to argue, debate, analyze (Gwen says I'm like a Philadelphia lawyer). I swallow my flustration. I stop and be quiet until all of those feelings go away and I can behave like...well, like Christ.

"...many false witnesses came forward...the high priest stood up and said to Him, "Do You make no answer?...But Jesus kept silent." Matt 26:60-63

No, it doesn't mean I become inward and withdraw into a cocoon. It means I "bite my tongue." "Think twice before I speak." "Get my act together." "Get an attitude adjustment." "Chill." I slow down to gain understanding....

"It is better to keep silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt."

Beyond all of that, is my own need for a heart check. Christ said, "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks." It is so difficult to stay consistently in a good place. But, that is what being Christ-like means. I'm keeping up the struggle...