I thought that being real about the struggle we moms face on a daily basis to be patient with our children would give me accountability and also encourage others as well as being a way to document what I was learning.
Not raising my voice at my kids wasn’t easy, but it was completely do-able. Taking the extra time to not multi-task and go the extra steps needed didn’t result in perfection, but it resulted in immediate growth personally and deeper connection with my children.
My husband returned from a four month overseas deployment to Europe in November. I knew enough to know there would be a brief “honeymoon” period and then a rocky transition. However, for some reason I was swept off my feet and believed that we were back together better than ever. Then one of the most difficult months of our marriage transpired. We have been through some very painful things together, but that first month reunited after living on our own for several months brought everything to a head between us. We began going to a new marriage counselor and he was really helpful. In the new year we began to see hope. I had been putting off writing the post to share that I had raised my voice and needed to start over because it was happening frequently over a several week period in response to the arguments my husband and I were having. He is an incredible man in so many ways and does so much for us, however no one hears the things that he says to me that cut me to the quick. And what do I do in response? My voice raises and words pour out accusing and pleading because I didn’t marry a man that didn’t even like me. I married my best friend and many days I don’t understand where he or I have gone.
But in January there was hope, and I began my year over, praying to complete it gently and quietly in one calendar year. The end of the deployment and birthdays and holidays and back to school all came in a blur and I have not had time to even sit a few minutes behind the keyboard, but I was planning to share about this fresh start as soon as possible.
Until I stumbled all over again.
I have not shared until now about my husband and I, because I know how risky it can be to share that your marriage is rocky. Also the more I soaked in the first year of my daughter’s life, the less real this digital space felt. There are some of you that know and love me, and some that have joined the journey, but sometimes it feels so strange and meaningless to float words on a screen out there to meet the millions more and post them on the surreal little stage that is social media.
But this Sunday as we were leaving for a road trip our wounded hearts broke right open again. He had said one thing and another thing was happening. I tried to raise a concern, and communicate, but angry, hurtful words were exchanged on both sides. I raised my voice, and right there I felt the weight of all the failure and hopelessness I have ever felt.
We went on the trip together and it was beautiful. We came home and I tried to raise another similar concern – it did not go well. Strength, dignity, gentleness, quietness left by the wayside, traded for tears and harsh words.
So I have realized something. I don’t know if I can speak gently and quietly for a year because I don’t know how to respond to the things my husband says that tear at my heart – without letting it all spill out. I don’t know how to fix my marriage. Yes I have read and heard all the Christian advice about how a woman is to serve God, and only effect change through quiet, submissive, behavior. Believe me, I have heard it all. Here is the problem though – I can say “sure honey” to someone I have pledged to live with under a certain contract, but when I let my heart dream and fall madly in love with my husband for the thousandth or more time in our fifteen years together… When I do that I don’t know how to feel rejected or unconnected without all that passion spilling right out.
So I can say that I have not yelled at my children in quite some time, but I don’t know when I’m going to be able to go an entire year without my emotions and voice raising towards my husband. This is me, laying it out.
And I’m beginning to wonder if I even made the right call in setting a commitment to not raise my voice for a year. Because really what would I have done at the end of that time? Said, “Look at me, I am the woman who did not yell for a year.” Also I don’t want to speak quietly and become one of the many people who think that because their words are not loud, they are not hurtful. This was always ever meant to be a step of accountability using these awkward digital tools to grow and show more love to the ones closest to me.
So I’m looking to the Word for my next steps in what feels like a cloud.
The Word says love is not boastful or proud. Is that what I would have become if the Spirit would have given me sure and quick success? The Word says God hates a lying tongue. If my goal is just a year without raising my voice, then will I be tempted to trade loud words for passive aggressive ones?
The Word does say “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
So I’m going to confess here. Whether I think my husband was wrong, or my kids were just too much, I’m going to confess my own sin in this silly digital way.
Each time I raise my voice, I’m going to post on this blog – right away, no waiting for the perfect time to start over. There may not be pictures, it may not sound like much, but I’m going to race to my keyboard and let all the shame and confusion lift as Christ uses these simple confessions to cleanse and encourage.
And you know what… I will complete the challenge one day… You can judge for yourself though, for me I’m just going to celebrate each day of grace God gives. When it has been a year since the last post that announced a raised voice, you will know that the Spirit has worked in me what I had hoped for, and I believe that will be just the beginning.
I am a failure, but Christ is more.