Tag Archives: silence

Lie to Me

He told me he loved me, but I kept noticing what he said didn’t add up.  I wasn’t trying to catch him in a lie, but I noticed one person told me one thing about him and another said something different.  They didn’t know they were contradicting each other.  I quietly observed his behavior, made mental notes, and compared stories.  I asked questions of others.  I discovered that he said whatever he thought I wanted to hear, then told someone else what he thought they wanted to hear.  He lied and schemed his way through life.  He lied to get our church to give him money.  He angrily accused me of all kinds of terrible things when I asked him questions.  He tried to convince me I was just stupid.  It ended in a big blow up with him shaking me in frustration, eyes bulging from his head, and screaming that I knew him and couldn’t actually think he was the monster I accused him of being.  (No.  Perfectly sane gentlemen shake their girlfriends and scream at them.  Really.) 

I threatened to call the police if he didn’t leave.  And when he finally left, I laid with my face in the carpet and cried for hours.  I wanted to call him back and tell him it was all a mistake and surely he wasn’t a monster.  It took me months to shake myself free from him, but I finally did it.  He was like kudzu, creeping in and taking over everything, looking pretty from afar, but full of poison. 

I met him soon after moving to Nashville.  I was 22 years old, ready to meet the man of my dreams and get married, and very, very lonely.  He was strikingly handsome – extremely tall with jet black hair and aqua blue eyes.  People regularly stopped us while we were out to tell us how good we looked together.  He adored me, pampered me, and made me feel like a queen.  We had fun together, seemed to have everything in common and complemented one another well.  Yet I felt constantly suspicious of him.  I knew I couldn’t trust him, but had no reason to suspect anything until we’d been dating for nine months.  I made it three more months with him, trying to work it out, unable to believe the truth. 

I was dating a sociopath. 

After this experience, I find myself very sensitive about lying.  I cannot stand to feel like someone is trying to manipulate me.  And yet, it still happens.  It happens because I am trying to be the sweet, kind, forgiving, gentle young woman who is gracious to all and doesn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or cause discomfort to anyone else. 

Many times in the past I’ve been guilty of glossing over someone’s lie and hoping for the best.  I’ve quietly resented the person who hurts me, rather than speaking up and getting to the bottom of things.  I use the word “guilty” here because the right thing to do is to go to the person and discuss the situation with them as soon as possible. 

It is possible I’ve misunderstood or don’t have all the facts.  In that case, what does it hurt to ask questions?  Rather than silently watch them to confirm my suspicion, I can go to them immediately and give them a chance to set the record straight.  That does two good things.  First, it allows them to explain their reasons for the behavior in question.  If there is wrongdoing, we then have an opportunity to work on the problem together, apologize, and move on.  If there is no wrongdoing, it clears the air. 

If there is a problem and the person confronted refuses to admit it, then at least it lets them know I’m aware of what’s going on and might prevent the problem from getting bigger.  Secondly, it makes our relationship more real, more open.  It makes it a real relationship, rather than an acquaintance. 

When I don’t confront a situation immediately, hurt builds on top of hurt until there’s an explosion.  The explosion doesn’t have to be loud, and the other person doesn’t even have to know it has happened, but once it happens there’s often no going back. 

The problem is that confrontation is hard.  How do you look someone in the eye and tell them you think, for example, they lied to you or they are trying to control you through anger?  I want people to like me.  I don’t want to cause offense.  It hurts me to hurt someone else. 

Confrontation also opens you up to accusation.  When a person feels defensive, they often come back fighting.  They may throw wild accusations your way, and then their accusations might not be that wild.  They may know exactly what to say to hit the sensitive underbelly, the thing you work so hard on and don’t want to fail in.  That is NOT fun.

I write that the truth hurts because it really does.  It’s easier to just walk away.  It’s not so easy to say the hard thing, ask the tough question, and handle the anger or hurt that comes your way.  But if hurt, confusion, or pain isn’t discussed, something inside the person who has been wronged dies.  Maybe it’s the love they once felt.  Maybe it’s the respect or their self-respect that dies. 

You’ve seen them – the couples eating their dinner in silence, scowling at one another and looking around the room for anything more interesting to focus on.  They look like they’ve been married forever and would be happy if their spouse disappeared for good.  They try to talk, but they just end up fighting, so they sit in silence.  What happened?  Were they ever in love?  What happened probably wasn’t one big thing, but hundreds of little things over the years that they didn’t think they needed to discuss so they could keep the peace for today.  Then one day they woke up and despised one another.  They can’t point to one specific thing, but it’s there.  Years of resentment and anger and hurt, and if they try to talk about it now it just turns into an all-out war full of acid words and no understanding.  They are cowards who couldn’t talk about the little irritations, so when the big problems came they had no skills to deal with them either. 

Silence kills.

If I had stayed silent and continued dating the beautiful man with the luxurious lifestyle and black heart, what would have become of me?  I might have married him.  I might have had children with him.  And something inside of me would have died.

What’s your story?  Have you experienced anything like this?  I’d like to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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The Gentle Hand

Through tears and trembling lips, a friend confided in me about an addiction she’s been trying to fight alone for some time now. 

Her big revelation didn’t surprise me.  I had known for over a year that she was dealing with it. 

When I told her that, she asked me why I hadn’t said anything, hadn’t asked her about it.  The truth is, I didn’t want to hurt her.  The truth is, I didn’t want to be the bad guy.  I didn’t think her addiction was that big of a deal, but I also knew she must feel terrible shame to not tell me about it.  I prayed for her and wished she would just come out with it, but I kept silent.  Confrontation was too hard.  I didn’t want to risk making her angry or causing her further shame. 

My heart broke for her as she sat across from me, nervously wiping away tears.  She was so afraid I would be angry with her, judge her, condemn her.  She lived for at least a year with that finger of shame pointing at her. 

 

As I think of that pain she faced alone, I realize I am culpable in her year-long battle.  I didn’t know about the problem before and am not even sure how long she’s dealt with it.  But I have known for over a year.  And she has fought it alone.  I told myself I was showing her respect by not saying anything, but was I just a coward? 

What would have happened if the first time I noticed the problem, I had asked her about it?  It would have been an innocent question at that time.  I didn’t ask her because I felt stunned and sure I was wrong.  I didn’t want to hurt her feelings by asking something that might sound like an accusation.  The next time I noticed it, I could have asked her about it and mentioned the other time.  Instead, I didn’t say anything and I noticed it repeatedly.  I hurt for her because I know her well.  I know her well enough to know she hated herself for it and yet felt that she deserved a little pleasure in life.  I know her because I know myself.  Our addictions are different, but I have battled my own.

Perhaps I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t ready to face my own addictions yet?  I did the cowardly thing.  I kept silent while she suffered.  If I’d had the courage to ask her about it a year ago, it’s possible that she would have suffered much less because I could’ve helped her face it then.  It’s possible that my silence, my cowardice, allowed my dear friend to suffer, to feel isolated and ashamed, far longer than if I had spoken up immediately.  It’s even possible that I battled my own problems longer because we weren’t walking out the challenges together. 

Sometimes it’s hard to deal with things right away, but it’s important in the long run.  This situation has been another lesson for me, another in a long line of similar lessons.  If we are willing to do the hard thing, face the hurt, and move through it, we find freedom in our relationships.  Free to love fully, to trust one another implicitly, and to confidently move forward.  We can know that our dear friends will put a gentle hand on our arm to halt us if they see us heading for trouble.  There is such security and safety in that freedom. 

Confrontation is hard, but sometimes it’s the most loving thing we can do.

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The Truth Hurts, but Silence Kills

In seventh grade, there were two boys in my class who were bigger and taller than me.  I was the tallest kid in my elementary school, so this phenomenon was new.  I was friends with them and even flirted occasionally.  Well, I didn’t know too much about flirting, but I tried.  One day the bell rang and I was slow to gather my things.  The teacher left and I was alone with the guys.  I don’t know how it started, but they ended up chasing me around the room (fun and a little exciting) and grabbing my butt (um, NOT fun).  Shocked and a little frightened, I scooted outside fast.  This happened repeatedly and their actions escalated until I made sure I was never alone.  What started as an innocent flirtation turned terribly frightening. 

What did the teacher or my parents do about it?  The answer is:  nothing.  They did nothing because they never knew.  I didn’t tell anyone. 


My family and church taught me to be sweet and kind, to overlook offenses, forgive, and do all I could to make each day a good day.  Good lessons when they aren’t taken to the extreme.  The extreme is what caused a lot of hurt and pain in my life.  The extreme kept me silent when I should scream and it led to all sorts of dysfunction.  Today I’m grasping at the truth, trying to absorb it, but unlearning is hard to do.

Sadly, the story above repeated itself many times.  I blamed myself for flirting and accused myself of leading the offenders on.  I thought I couldn’t complain when someone crossed the line because before it happened, I laughed with them and seemed easy-going.  Of course, I had no idea laughing or being friendly and easy-going gave anyone permission to paw at me, but I still decided it was my fault.  Plus, I was sure they didn’t really have bad motives.  They would never really hurt me.  I needed to get over it and be quiet or I would create trouble. 

The truth is, their actions DID really hurt me.  They crossed the line.  They did something inappropriate and unacceptable.  And I reinforced their behavior by keeping quiet.  Rather than speak up, I insulated myself.  I gained weight.  I gave mixed messages to men, leaving them wondering who I was or what I wanted.  The truth is, I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted.  I was too busy trying to figure out what everyone else wanted and thought.

God is teaching me who I am in Him and I’m a slow learner.  Who I am, what I think, and what I want IS important.  I’m learning that it’s okay to express myself to others, even before I know who they are, what they think, and what they want.  I don’t have to adjust myself to fit in.  It’s too exhausting to live that way. 

I don’t want to come across as too godly and ostracize myself from one group.  I don’t want to come across as too worldly and offend another group.  I don’t want to be too flashy in the way I dress, but I don’t want to dress too conservatively.  I don’t want to be too opinionated for a woman.  I don’t want men to think I’m unable to hold my own in a conversation at work.  I don’t want anyone to think I’m arrogant about my education.  I don’t want anyone to think I’m uneducated.  And the list goes on and on…  It’s ridiculous and impossible to balance. 

How about if I just figure out who I am and be that person?  How about if I learn how to be okay with myself and let others feel what they want to feel about me? 

The problem is that the truth hurts sometimes.  It can be painful to know you aren’t included in a group because you’re different from them.  It can be painful to let someone know you think differently than they do.  Differences of opinion often lead to anger and resentment.  Speaking up and telling things that are difficult can make you seem like a trouble-maker. 

But keeping silent often leads to something that kills our souls. 

Grocery shopping about a year ago, I smiled in a friendly way to two men in my path.  To them, that apparently meant an invitation to harass me.  They followed me down several aisles, making catcalls and loudly expressing themselves.  They got closer and closer, more and more bold.  I wanted to run, but something rose up inside me and I decided I was not going to let them get away with their offensive behavior.  I stopped very suddenly and they were so close they ran into me.  Stunned, they backed up as I turned to face them.  All I said was, “Excuse me!” with a look that left no doubt about how I felt.  As they sputtered apologies, I turned and walked away.  I didn’t see them again.

As I grow to understand more of who God has called me to be, I grow in boldness.  I am a Christian, a minister, anointed by God to lead others in worship and to administer the sacraments of the church.  I’m not called to celibacy, but I am (as every Christian) called to purity, which means my sexuality is reserved for the man I will marry someday.  That means no one may touch me inappropriately or say degrading things to me.  If they do, I have every right and responsibility to correct them.  There is nothing unladylike about it.  It also means I will boldly speak the truth of God’s word when I speak or teach or preach or write on my blog. 

As challenging as this post was for me to write, I hope my sharing will help someone else stop excusing the inexcusable.  I hope this post will help someone start loving the person God made them to be.  I hope someone will speak up, say the hard things, and allow God to work out the details.

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A Time to be Quiet

So I’ll admit it – I really like to watch TV.  I know it’s not the most Christian thing to own up to (and when I was doing eHarmony, it wasn’t something I put on my list of enjoyable ways to spend my time) but at the end of a long day when all the world seems to be asking for a piece of me, I really enjoy turning off my phone, sitting down on the big, comfy chair with the remote, and clearing out the shows on my DVR.  It’s mindless, it’s relaxing, and it’s my little guilty pleasure.  I can fast forward through commercials and only watch the shows I’m really interested in now that we have the lovely DVR in our house. 

television

So when I felt God tugging at me to give up the TV and radio for a few weeks, I wasn’t thrilled.  I knew I needed to do it though.  It seems that sometimes there’s so much noise and commotion around me, that God has very little opportunity to speak.  I do my devotions nearly every day, but I’m often rushed, trying to fit it in between my shower and breakfast, and don’t always take time to really listen. 

I’ve been dog/house sitting for a friend for nearly three weeks and during this time, the TV and radio have basically stayed off.  After about three days, the silence was SCREAMING at me.  I felt like I was going to lose my mind.  It was so hard.  All I wanted to do was turn on the radio just for a little background noise.  But I knew that wasn’t what I needed to do.  So I sat in the silence, in a peaceful, lovely home, and read, goofed off on Facebook, and wrote in my journal.  I didn’t really even talk on the phone much. 

PonderingAfter I got over the initial discomfort of the silence, I started to get used to it.  After nearly three weeks of basic silence, I’m even enjoying it a little.  Today is actually the last day of my stay and all the season openers for my shows are stacked up at home, waiting patiently on my DVR for me to plow through them, and I’m seriously considering just deleting them and (shock and awe) not trying to catch up.  I’m not making a commitment to that craziness right now.  I’m just thinking about it.

During my time of silence and listening, I believe God has spoken to me.  In August, I went through a very deep, personal struggle – begging God to provide some things that seem to have been terribly delayed.  My birthday is coming up this month and as I get a year older, it seems like much of life that others enjoy is passing me by.  I have a fantastic life and am so grateful for what I have, but some of the basic things that are common to adults are missing.  Additionally, some of the dreams I have that aren’t so common have yet to come to pass.  My spirit was screaming at God, demanding to know what’s taking so dag gum long.  I’ve done all the self-examination I know to do.  I’ve prepared myself spiritually.  I’ve read the books.  I’ve followed all the suggested steps.  Nothing is working.  I am ready for more. 

Gift WrappedIn my time of silence, God has been assuring me that His provision is already here.  He has been working out the details of my life for a long time and has everything under control.  What is to come has been coming ever since my life began and I just need to be still, stop struggling, and wait for His redemption.  It’s a very reassuring message.  It’s not the message I hoped for, which would include gift wrapped results that are delivered to my door yesterday (and a fantastic book deal).  But it’s a good message.  It’s a message of trust. 

The thing is, I’m a “doer,” a “strategic activator.”  I have documented proof of this in the form of numerous personality and work-style assessments.  I like to be moving!  I like to have a goal to accomplish and steps to take. This thing about sitting still and waiting makes me feel like I’m sitting on my hands while others are getting everything done.  I like to be in the middle of the action, not on the sidelines.  Yet God seems to be reassuring me that He needs no help from me to accomplish His perfect will for my life.  It’s my job to enjoy the calm and be delighted when the provision is finally in my hands. 

Tomorrow I will decide what to do about the TV.  Tonight I will enjoy one more night of waiting in the silence.

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