How to Never Have to Prove Yourself Again

Photo: Leigh Righton, Creative Commons, cc license

I’m sipping French pressed coffee and munching on red licorice, a breakfast of champions. In my ear a computer customer service agent talks me through steps to establish my identity for an annual renewal program. It’s convoluted and frightening, the blue screens circling endlessly, dead-ending on the same screen each time.

And what is it about proving our identities that lands us in this same cycle? I see it in marriages, in sibling-parent relationships, and in boyfriend-girlfriend cycles. Too often we fall into loops of behavior or relating to each other that dead ends, bringing us back to the same blue ending. 

And I see it often, how we use words and facial expressions to send messages, but how frequently they are decoded wrongly and misunderstood. It can cause laughter, or raised eyebrows, raised voices, hurt, and frustration. Do you see it too?

I see it in my home sometimes also, sadly, and we’re working on that. My man and I are carving our way through this new season. Choosing daily to try gentle tones, respectful voices, and affirming yet assertive communication, it is harder than it would seem, and we crash miserably in some conversations.

Sunday, while splashing dishes in the sink and planning our day, words sliced and cut in ignorance. We stood, recoiling, wondering how to retrace, recapture, restore. Water slid from the faucet and all was quiet. Fiery minds struggled for words, God’s spirit whispered balm to both of us, and we raced through memory rooms for any psychological tools we could find.

A timed departure halted further forays, and we retreated, replaying sentences in our minds, striving to say them better, flushed faces still hot.

The temptation in that moment was to turn inward, replaying the hurt, and rekindling the fire. My battle (perhaps yours too, friend?) is to stop, remember who I really am, and to respond. Because my identity doesn’t need to be fought for, proven, or carved out. It has been established, created, and sculpted by a Master Artist. I simply need to remember it, and live clothed in it.

Several hour later, my man and I sidled close in the kitchen, toes touching across the linoleum. Strapping on psychology tools and the Creator’s guidance, we spoke again, expressing ourselves, re-stating some things, extending apologies and gentle grace.

And the cycle stopped, the blue screen disappeared, and life was well again, at least in real life.

(My computer problems still exist. Aiye! Pray?) 

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  1. Floyd on July 9, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    That takes true wisdom and love to be able to keep from using our human emotions to derail us. This is a great reminder of what I and we are called to. Great job to the both of you.

    Red licorice huh? Hmmmm.

  2. Brian Miller on July 9, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    my identity doesnt need to be proven, but shaped and sculpted…lot of truth in that….and learning to communicate, oy, i think that takes a life time…

  3. Ceil on July 11, 2014 at 2:16 am

    Hi Jennifer! Of course we can pray for computers! Believe me, without my son I'd be in bad shape.

    My husband and I have been married for over thirty years, and I swear we speak a different language. I understand the misunderstanding stuff. The escalating feelings…good for you for searching out peace right away. That's wonderful!

    Hope your computer issues are resolved by now?

  4. Alecia Simersky on July 14, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    Thank you for this wisdom this morning. Communication-especially when you do it differently- can be so hard. Hurt words fly out before we can catch them and put them back in.

    I hope your computers problems have been fixed! I hate that!

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