I think this describes me. I grew up thinking self-protection was a good thing. It’s not. I know a lot of you reading this are surprised. Just like I was when I read it in Matthew. I was over 40–that’s a real late bloomer.
My husband and I were laying in bed the other morning, snuggled up after reading our two chapters. He said, “This is precious time.” And I agreed. “It takes off the rough edges and corners,” I said. He agreed. We are both those kind of people. Have both admitted that we deserve each other. We’ve been forced to look at ourselves and admit who we are.
People who grew up afraid to get close. Maybe not to the extent of Narcissists, but still afraid enough to duck into corners of hiding. Shame causes that. And it’s mostly tone of voice that causes shame. If you were parented with it, you know what I’m saying. It leaves the feeling that you didn’t do it right–can’t be good enough. (Now I turn inside out when I hear shame tones used on my grandchildren. I can hardly keep my mouth shut.)
Or we put edges in our conversation. Maybe because we weren’t encouraged to build others up, or feel safe enough to risk kindness. Edges tinged with sarcasm, jokes that are hurtful, a shaming tone of voice. It’s not that we mean to, it’s just natural to communicate that way. And our sense of humor was built around put downs. We can be very funny at each other’s expense. But lately we can receive the other’s confrontation and apologize. We’ve had a lot of unlearning to do. I think everybody does. Except maybe people who were always taught to be nice. That’s another issue if you were made to be nice and couldn’t be honest. We were skilled at keeping people at arms length.
Arms length doesn’t make for good relationships. Scared to get close. What are we afraid of? For me, it’s being made fun of. Ridicule will cork me. For him, it’s being left. That’s a common one. For you, it might be not good enough, that’s another common one.
Learning how to be people who can live in love is critical to liking your life.
It’s God’s way, and They worked it out so we can unlearn our programming and choose Their better way. I say They because I believe God is relational above everything. One being doesn’t make sense to me. One position filled by three, who learned to live in love and chose it as the basis of Their government, makes sense. Some of you are offended that I said They learned to live in love. One thing we do know about God is that before we knew evil, They did. So at some point They chose. Now we are learning to choose. It’s not easy. It’s painful to look at yourself and admit that you fail, or that your good intentions cause pain. But people get divorced because they don’t look at themselves. They are afraid to.
So it is very good news that we can choose and change. That admitting fault is not fatal, and failure is not final. Forgiveness is God’s state of being, and They give it to us for asking for other people. It isn’t natural to us but it is to Them and They love to share. Love will be the norm again. It will even be the only attitude we have. Our sorry state of being will be renovated. Thank God!