During my almost-nineteen-year marriage, I fought with my then-husband a lot and I argued/angered/annoyed many, many people at my church. It was pointed out to me, more than once, that I should maybe consider that I was the common denominator in all those skirmishes.
So I moved through my twenties and thirties thinking I was a walking conflict. Someone to be put up with. One rough edge away from a sociopath. A woman with virtually no social skills. More off than the next guy.
You might think I’m being overdramatic, but I’m not. I totally thought these things about myself. And I didn’t just occasionally think these things, I felt these things, believed these things, let these things take over my heart.
I honestly thought I was this person that I was being told I was.
But I’m not that girl anymore.
And I’m going to make a bold statement: I never was that girl.
I have two theories as to why I was in an abnormally large amount of conflict with people from church and why I argued so much with my then-husband.
I’ll tackle the church issue first. Because I wasn’t really me. I lived almost two decades as a Type A, controlling leader in a slow-paced introvert’s body. Add that to this little fact: for those same two decades, I was in a marriage that was sapping my strength and personhood and I was doing everything I could think of to keep it tamped down while simultaneously trying to fix it and while hoping no one would find out and yet that someone would come rescue me. Allow me to let you in on a little secret: image management is exhausting. And my personal pain, I have no doubt, was coming out all over the place, including on the people I was trying to lead and serve. (I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: if we served together at church during that almost twenty-year stretch, again, I am so very sorry for hurting you, being unkind to you, trying to control you, using you, and just overall being harsh.)
But now onto why (well, one of the reasons why) I think I argued with my then-husband so much. Because I wasn’t really me. (Yep, same reason as above.) And I was a hard-edged woman who was just trying to protect her heart from being pummeled. And because – and this one is key – my partner and I weren’t good for each other. And here’s how I know this.
Because this new man who has become my friend…..I’m really me with him and we are good for and to each other. Not one argument. It’s just easy. And..…and this a huge AND…..he says things like, “Who wouldn’t get along with you?” (Ummm, a whole lot of people from my past, I tell him.) But he sees me as agreeable and kind and non-annoying and such (perhaps in part because he’s agreeable and kind with me). (New concepts that I’m learning to enfold into my self-perception to break down twenty years of false thinking, by the way.)
So, I used to be a pill.
But now..…turns out, I’m easy. Who knew?
When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly. –Proverbs 31:26