I had been doing really good at avoiding arguments with my ex husband lately. It had been months since we had a huge fight and I was so proud of myself. In the past I had allowed myself so many times to get sucked in to the never ending vortex of arguing with him that it was making me sick. We would have phone or text conversations that would normally start out “civil-ish” but by the end of it we were yelling and talking over each other without even listening or resolving anything. It was always a vicious cycle that never led anywhere good and I always felt so gross afterwards. A couple months back I had made the decision that I would no longer allow myself to get tangled up in a situation like that again. I had asked him not to contact me unless it had to do specifically with scheduling time with our children and even then I had to be very careful to limit our conversations to 5 minutes or less. Straight to the point, end of story, goodbye.
It was working well, on my end anyway. He didn’t seem to like that I had set those boundaries but I knew it was the healthiest thing to do at this point. All of our interactions had become so toxic it left me no choice. Not to mention it’s a horrible example for our children. Last week however, I blew it. I was talking with our oldest son and the conversation started to get a little tense, at which point, looking back I should have just simply and lovingly said “I love you. Could I please speak with your brother now?” Throughout the conversation with my son I could hear my ex husband in the background, and although I couldn’t quite make out what was being said I knew he was inserting himself into the conversation which wasn’t helping the situation. I could feel my blood pressure and frustration level starting to rise. And that’s when I broke my promise to myself and asked my son if I could speak to his father. As usual, big mistake.
It started out relatively calm but of course as it went on, his voice started to escalate to the point of his voice cracking because of how much he was yelling at me on the phone…in front of our children. At this point I knew better than to try to interrupt him during his verbal rampage so I waited until I thought there was a gap to try to say my two cents worth which infuriated him even more, elevating his voice level yet again. The entire conversation was on speaker phone with my mother listening in while she was in my kitchen. More than once she turned to me and said “Ok that’s enough, no more.” as she begged me to simply hang up. But I was determined to defend myself and have the last word. I wanted him to understand where I was coming from and to try to reason with him. He wasn’t having it. Which of course only frustrated me even more. From my perspective it’s honestly like talking to a brick wall. It’s painful and infuriating and ultimately pointless.
We finally hung up and I felt defeated, frustrated, angry and gross. But even more so I was disappointed in myself because, once again, I allowed myself to get suckered into another futile argument which accomplished absolutely nothing except raise my blood pressure and make me sick to my stomach. And I had been doing so well up until that point! What happened?
What happened was this: once again I felt the need to defend myself and have the last word. Once again I felt that if I didn’t speak up and defend myself, no body else would. Once again, I decided to take matters into my own hands instead of taking a few steps back and being silent. I allowed my emotions to take over rather than telling my emotions to sit down and shut up. For as long as I can remember I’ve always felt the need to defend myself, because if I don’t, who will?
Last month, I was talking with a couple of my neighbours from upstairs. I’m not sure how we got on the topic but they had said that awhile ago, while I was away, they had caught some guy at my apartment door that had no business being there. He wasn’t a resident of our building and nobody knew who he was but he had been trying to open my front door. I’m thankful that my neighbours were looking out for me in my absence and scared the man away and out of the building. The thing that surprised me was that I had no idea! I wouldn’t have had a clue that night coming home that someone had attempted to open my door earlier that day. I had no clue that my “good samaritan” of a neighbour had stepped in and chased the guy away. I wasn’t aware that I was being watched over and taken care of in that manner. I’m thankful I live in a building that looks out for each other like that.
There are so many examples in the Bible where it clearly states that God is our defender. An ever present help in times of trouble. He is our advocate and stands in the gap for us. But in order for Him to be able to do that, we need to take our hands (and our mouths) off of whatever situation we’re in. More often than not, we tend to get in our own way while God is waiting for us to move OUT of the way so He can do His thing. Even when it doesn’t seem like anything is happening, God is still working behind the scenes on our behalf. Just like how my neighbours came to my rescue and I had no idea, there are probably countless times when God has defended or protected me from things that I had no clue were even happening. Plots that God has foiled without my knowledge.
Resting in the fact that God is in my corner and is ready to defend not just my honour but more importantly HIS honour is one of my favourite characteristics about Him. It’s something that I need a constant reminder of every time I feel the need to open my mouth. By keeping my mouth shut, it allows God to open His. My words are futile and flawed but His words are life. The same words that spoke the stars into existence is speaking over my situation. Me feeling the need to have the last word is actually not all that important. Because at the end of the day, when I choose to remain silent, as I remain still, knowing that he is in control, it’s actually God who gets the final word. Every time.
The defence rests. Case closed.