I woke up with thoughts of yesterday’s realization running around my brain. My takeaway that I needed to pray instead of making life-changing decisions on my own was one thought, but I realized that I can’t focus on that on a day-to-day basis. That’s an important attitude to change and action to take, but it’s not my working daily plan.
So my second thought centered around my propensity for keeping the peace. It sounds so very Christian and Good Godly Wife to say you are a peacekeeper. This is probably at least half the reason I fell so easily into keeping the peace at all costs. I have heard countless women’s talks and read countless articles about how this is something all submissive wives should be doing, without qualifying the fact that you’re not actually supposed to lie to achieve this.
Another part of it stems from the fact that my father did the same thing in his marriage, with disastrous results, which is why my mother was allowed to dominate me and my brother was allowed to abuse me as a child.
And then there’s the fact that I’m an ENFP and any minute of the day I’d rather be having fun and good times with people than being a bummer and confronting.
I remember reading a summary of the ENFP personality when I first took the Meyers-Briggs personality test, and taking note of its warning that ENFPs tend to be the “fun parent” until they get pushed too far, at which point the hammer comes down too hard. I’d like to go on record that Meyers and Briggs knew what they heck they were talking about. The upside is that my now-adult kids and I genuinely enjoy each others’ company. The downside is that the house is never in the state of cleanliness and order I want it to have, chore charts notwithstanding.
(Those that read between the lines probably caught that I just shuffled off my immature desire to avoid confrontation onto my personality type and turned it into almost a positive. But trust me, it’s not. And I didn’t fool myself there, either.)
At any rate, when I read that summary, back in my early 20s as a single person, I had an inkling that this was something I would need to work on when I was married and had kids. What I didn’t realize was that it was something I would need to work on simply when I was married. Because I didn’t realize that I would need to relate to my husband like a child.
The thing about narcissists is that they are actually very fragile. They are hurting children on the inside. If you look at a list of narcissistic behavior and apply it to a six year old, it makes perfect sense; it’s not narcissism at all. It’s just being six. So one of the problems narcissists have is that part of their psyche, the emotional part, stayed six.
When my husband is feeling really stressed out, and especially if he has reason to feel sorry for himself, he actually manifests this in his body language and facial expressions. He slaps his feet down as he walks, lets his arms hang loose at his side and screws up his face and whines when he talks. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it’s a marked change from his usual comportment. When it happens I’ll usually catch my daughter’s eye and one of us will say, “He’s six today” and the other will confirm with a nod, and we will then tread lightly around him and not take anything he says personally.
So there’s a point where this treading lightly, or even metaphorically walking around him in order to get things done, is simply showing grace to someone who is having a bad day.
But then there’s this line that’s so easy to cross, where you find yourself lying in order to keep the peace. That is the line that’s not okay. That is the line I’ve been claiming is grace, or in a more honest moment, survival, but that isn’t actually as shiny as I’d like to paint it.
Yesterday I had to write a paper on Jesus’ words in John 14:6:
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (ESV).
This morning it came to me with a jolt that He didn’t say He was the way, the PEACE and the life. He said He was the truth.
And the truth does not always bring peace.
Peace is what we want though. We humans want peace, happiness and abundance. That’s why we have problems with some of the things Jesus said, like
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. (Matt 10:34)
As much as “Peace on earth” is something people from every worldview tout as the highest goal, it’s not likely as long as there is still sin on earth.
Not that I’m now going to start picking fights with my husband in the name of telling the truth. That’s swinging the pendulum too far in the opposite direction. I could easily become a monster with that attitude, and as long as I’m being perfectly honest here, that is where I have gone in the past when my ENFP personality does its thing upon being pushed too far. The hammer comes down, and because I’m a wordsmith, it comes down with the biting accuracy of a two-edged sword. And not in a good, Biblical, Hebrews-4:12-word-of-God kind of way.
And sure, there are many other mentions of the peace that Jesus brings us in the Bible, so it’s not that I’m throwing out the concept. In fact, my next step is to do a word study on that and see just what exactly He says about peace so that I can correct my obviously faulty understanding of it (a study that may dawn upon one of my other blogs in the next few days).
But I am repenting, right here, right now, of prioritizing peace over truth.
All hell may break loose in my household as a result. It probably will. But this time, I will stand up to that hell instead of trying to tiptoe around it. And this time I will keep firmly in mind that the battle belongs to the Lord; I am not fighting this on my own power.
I truly believe that as long as I stay submitted to Him, he will fight this battle for me, just as He did for the Israelites when they entered the Promised Land. If I can just stop trying to fix things, He can move miraculously.
In fact, it occurred to me this morning that perhaps the reason He hasn’t swooped in and rescued me from this situation the way I’ve been begging Him to for years is that I keep getting in the way.
Maybe if I start doing things His way, with truth, it will lead to life.
Instead of PTSD.