Do you ever have a moment where you realize that you've been learning a lesson for a long time without even realizing it? I had this revelation the other night. It was brought to my attention while Jordan and I were having a discussion. If ever I feel strongly about something, oftentimes Jordan will play devil's advocate with me about it. I don't think he realizes how often he does this and when we were dating and first married, I HATED it! I would feel like he was attacking me and just trying to be argumentative. I hate to argue, I'd rather go with the flow or hold my opinions inside. But after our 8 years of marriage, with the help of quite a few arguments, and some (ok, many!) self-help books, I've learned to keep my defenses down when these debates arise. I've learned that I need to keep an open mind, stay calm, and choose my words to get my own point across, and be respectful through it all. Sometimes, I would blow up regardless, mostly out of annoyance that I can't express things to him good enough to win the battle. Sometimes I would just wave my white flag out of hostility, angry that I was surrendering. And when I would resort to either of those options, of course Jordan would get angry as well. Now I realize that all along, Jordan hasn't been trying to 'win', he's been encouraging me to argue back. To get my point across. To stand up for what I believe in.
All my life, I've been the girl that shies away from confrontation. I'm a peace maker to a fault. My name actually means 'peaceful valley'. Suck! For so many years, that has left me feeling like a doormat. I've gotten into some heated conversations in my adulthood where I can only stand my ground for so long before I crumble under the weight of confrontation. There have been times when my faith is on the line with people, but I cannot argue. So again, I raise my little white flag. I've actually been told that I'm a push-over. Ouch! And until recently, I have believed that that is in the fiber of my being.
I just read a really great book, Fierce Women, which is largely about what a biblical submissive wife looks like. I benefited from the book, for sure, and I definitely needed to add to my knowledge of what a submissive wife looks like. But more than anything, I needed to learn about the all-encompassing fierce woman. (CHARACTERISTICS OF A FIERCE WOMAN: Her identity is rooted in her relationship with Christ, gracious, content, courageous, faces her fears, passionate, not trivial, she's more focused on giving love than getting love, battles for a worthy cause instead of shrinking in defeat, protects and defends, a sincere encourager, honest and kind, speaks truth in love, she walks in confidence and humility, her life is lived for God's glory rather than the smallness of self.) I needed to hear for the first time that to be submissive, peaceful, 'soft' doesn't mean I'm a door-mat.
And during a debate the other night and with reminders of that book still fresh in my head, I realized that Jordan has been speaking into that area of my life ever since I've known him, that I need to stand up for what I believe in. I've always been confident that Jordan has never thought of me as just a doormat. Even when he could have fully taken advantage of that personality trait. When he'd play devil's advocate with me, I thought he was opposing me. For years now, I'd leave those kind of discussions wishing that instead of debating, he'd just agree with me. So many times I would bring something up that I knew Jordan agreed with but instead, we'd start 'debating' (which eventually led to arguing). I would wish or pray that he would just stop, just agree, just let me have the final word. I hadn't been trying to get in a fight, but with him pestering me, I would get all defensive. I've always been bad with public speaking, why wouldn't he just listen instead of argue? When I was feeling like a door-mat with someone else, why didn't he just let me vent about things instead of pushing me to make my case? And now I see it!! He's been making me stronger all along! While I doubt that he has had a grand, master scheme, he's been teaching me, pushing me, encouraging me to stand up! To make my case!
Isn't it funny how God works sometimes? I have wondered many times why Jordan and I would be so opposite of each other? I had it all mixed up. What I thought were his flaws were actually mine: Why couldn't he be a bit more gentle, like me? A little less opinionated, a little less challenging?! Again, I have never been a public speaker, I've never been very good with my words. I have always been a quiet listener, a peace maker, a door-mat. I've always longed to be fierce in a loving way, a soft warrior, the kind of woman the bible encourages me to be. Why does it have to be a journey? Why has it taken me 8 years of marriage to realize that Jordan's debates with me are for my benefit? God IS at work in my life, in those personality traits that need to be molded, in the times when I'd rather not stand up for what I believe in because it's easier for me to surrender.
And God's timing is beyond my comprehension!
I have a friend who is going through some tough times right now. I don't believe that anyone else is probably speaking into her situation with the Truth. I feel like what she needs to be reminded of isn't going to be something she wants to hear. And it's definitely something that I would rather not say. But I know that I am in training. I know that I am a 'soft person' which can be either a strength and weakness. And I believe that God has set this challenge in my way so that I might stand up for what the Word says, while using my 'softness' to get His point across to her.
With what I have believed about myself being a door-mat, I have not honored God's call in my life to speak His truth. To stand up for Christ. To take up my cross and follow Him. I've been a people-pleaser. Not an advocate for Christ in a culture that needs the Truth to be spoken. Now that I'm realizing how God has been at work in molding me into a fierce woman (and his using Jordan to accomplish that), I have a greater awareness of my responsibility and my God-given ability. I hope I make Him (and Jordan!) proud!