Me in 2005 – 3 years before God opened my eyes
MY OLD WAYS
Ugh. This describes me for so long in our relationship. I would often decide we had an issue. I would think nonstop about it all day – determining all the questions I would ask Greg so I could verbally nail him to the wall. I was completely sure I knew all kinds of evil motives he must have had toward me. I spent hours carefully gathering my evidence against him so I could prove to him how wrong he was with all of my strong arguments.
When he would get home – there was no happy welcome or smile from me on those days. I lit right into him. I was in “prosecuting attorney mode” – determined to get him to admit how wrong he was and how right I was about any and every little issue as I cross-examined him under a microscope. That was all that mattered to me at the time – being right. I had no idea what I was doing to Greg or our relationship.
Of course, if he dared to address an issue in my life, even the smallest thing, I would all-out viciously verbally attack him. I was the only one allowed to do the questioning. I was the only one allowed to confront. Not him. I could disagree with him. But he best not disagree with me or he would suffer my wrath.
I was dumbfounded that I would ask all of my carefully crafted questions and he refused to say anything. Oh, that made me so mad! Fighting mad. I escalated my volume and vitriol when that happened, thinking he would surely answer me if I increased the intensity of my attack. I would make him answer! I thought he didn’t say anything because he knew I was right and he had no ability to defend himself against my superior reasoning abilities and character. I thought he was quiet because he was guilty of all of my accusations against him.
Many years later, after God opened my eyes to all of the sin to which I had been so blind for over 14 years in our marriage – I was able to finally see. Almost nothing about my husband matched up with what I had wrongly assumed for so many years.
Greg didn’t answer me because I put him in a no-win situation.
I had misunderstood his heart, thoughts, words, and actions completely. I was determined that I knew the truth and was right and that he was wrong. That was the only paradigm I would accept all of those years. And how could he even have started trying to explain anything – even if he wanted to – when my vision of him was so distorted?
It turns out, I didn’t know his heart at all. I didn’t know his motives. I was completely in another book – not just on another page.
What I thought was true all that time – really wasn’t. I had deceived myself. I was emotionally and spiritually completely exhausting to be around. I was verbally abusive. I didn’t call him names, generally. And I never cussed at all. I just took many verbal shots at him to undermine him, to label him, to condemn him, to blame him, to attack him, to show him how everything was his fault, etc… Then I resented him for being emotionally unavailable to me. He should love me more!
God! You need to change this man and change him RIGHT NOW! He is hurting me by not loving me the way I want him to. How could he be so cruel to me to unplug from me like this?
I don’t know if I could have understood back then if Greg did try to explain even if I had been willing to try to listen. I had no idea how different Greg’s perspective and mindset was. Usually, if he started saying something, I cut him off. I was convinced I completely understood the situation without ever hearing his side of things. I thought I already knew what he was thinking and what he would say. How I wish I had stopped attacking him and tried to listen.
To answer before listening– that is folly and shame. Prov. 18:13
So his choices at the time were:
- Try to explain himself, knowing I would refute anything he said that didn’t match my pre-conceived (and extremely inaccurate) notions.
- Fight me verbally.
- Say nothing to defend himself and just let me rant on by myself and continue thinking and assuming the absolute worst lies about him.
He knew it was futile to explain himself to me. He didn’t want to fight me. So he often chose #3 – which seemed like the lesser of all of the evils. He withdrew from me. He shut down. He became a shell of the man he was when we got married.
Turns out – men don’t really like to feel like they are coming to a verbal firing squad or to an interrogation with the “bad cop” and the lone lightbulb swinging over their head at the table like they have in the movies. Really, no remotely emotionally healthy person enjoys that. No one revels in the stress of feeling like a criminal defendant who is being cross-examined by a prosecuting attorney who has already judged him/her to be guilty. Most men want to have peace, harmony, joy, and contentment in their relationship. They want to feel safe with their women emotionally. Everyone wants that.
WHOSE INSTRUMENT AM I?
How might we come across as if we are cross-examining a witness at a trial?
It is often our tone, our facial expressions, our emotional intensity, and our constant barrage of pointed, accusing questions.
It is extremely hurtful and frustrating to be utterly misunderstood, vilified, falsely accused, and wrongly condemned by someone who doesn’t actually know your heart and who isn’t even interested in trying to understand the truth or in trying to heal the relationship.
Ultimately, we long most for our husbands to share their hearts with us, to emotionally connect with us, to cherish us, love us, and adore us. So – let me just mention, my precious sisters – this “prosecutor” approach repels our men (and anyone else). It causes them to shut down their hearts to us. It does not make them want to open up to us and be vulnerable. They know they are not safe with us when we act like this because they are not safe.
We sabotage the very intimacy we long for when we do this.
It was sobering for me to realize that I was not acting in the power of God’s Spirit when I acted like a prosecuting attorney, like an accuser. In fact, I was acting like Satan and cooperating with him. “The accuser of the brethren.” I had actually allowed the devil to get a huge stronghold in my life. I didn’t realize it. I was blind to my sin back then.
I unwittingly invited him to set up a base camp in my heart and mind by holding on to pride, resentment, unforgiveness, etc… And I gave him free access to my thoughts, heart, mind, mouth, and body. I thought I was living for Jesus. My words often said I was. But the Holy Spirit was not in control. The fruit of my life was the fruit of the flesh not the fruit of the Spirit. I had allowed myself and my mouth to be an instrument in the hands of the devil to try to destroy Greg.
The wise woman builds her house, but with her own
hands the foolish one tears hers down. Prov. 14:1
How I NEVER want to go back to that awful place again! I had a lot of repenting to do – to the Lord, to Greg, and to other people in my life, too.
Thankfully, there is so much hope for all of us in Jesus! We don’t have to stay in this awful toxic place where we destroy ourselves and our husbands and other people. Jesus can set us free from this snare. We can turn away from our sin and turn to Him to let Him cleanse and heal us by His work on our behalf on the cross! The Lord graciously healed me, and in time, He eventually also healed Greg and our marriage. How can I ever thank Him enough?
That same healing is available to you. You can have peace with God and you can live in peace, as far as it depends on you, in your relationships with people. The key is to know the Prince of Peace and to allow Him to be the Lord and Savior of your life. He has to power to change us as we yield to Him in faith, trust, humility, and obedience.
I have so many posts that may be a blessing to you if you find yourself in this place where I was years ago. If you are ready to stop cooperating with Satan’s plans to steal, kill, and destroy in your relationships and you are ready to cooperate with God’s good plans for you in Jesus, check out some of these resources. He can set you free from Satan’s prison just like He set me free almost 9 years ago.