It was a bit awkward when my husband proposed to me.
He wasn’t at all awkward. He was perfect. And sweet. And fantastic.
I was totally awkward.
It was the weirdest thing. I knew it was coming. Something had slipped earlier in the week, so I knew when it was happening. And I was excited for it!
He looked dashing in his tux. He’d prepared an amazing dinner, draped the dining room with black fabric in the shape of a diamond, lit candles galore, donned the room with dozens and dozens of roses and rose petals, and adorned every nook with pictures of us. He shared with me how he felt I embodied Proverbs 31. He surprised me with a stunning ring that I didn’t think he had yet.
It was beautiful. He did everything perfectly. Every single part.
And then there was my part.
You know, the part where I say, “Yes.”
The one syllable. The three little letters.
That was my part of the proposal, and I totally botched it.
There was just something utterly humbling about his wanting to spend the rest of his life with me! I’d tried to talk him out of it many times. I’d told him all my foibles and weaknesses. “Are you sure you’re really up for this?”
I knew I wanted to spend my life with him. I knew he wanted to spend his life with me. Yet when he asked, I just froze. I was so beyond humbled. I was stunned by the precious reality of it all. I couldn’t move or speak.
My brain tried to tell my mouth to move, but it just wouldn’t.
Then it tried to tell my head to nod yes. But it wouldn’t move either.
I just stared, frozen. And it got really awkward.
Dave looked at me. I could see him starting to get concerned.
I tried really hard to nod. Really hard. “Nod, head, nod.”
Finally, it moved a tiny little crick.
Dave jumped, “So that’s a yes?”
And it moved a little more, then a little more. We hugged, and he shouted, “She said yes!”
His proposal was perfect. If only I could speak!!
Now that was a lovely situation, but I totally hear you about all this conflict stuff. What if you’re like me – sometimes you just end up stuck? Sometimes you are just stunned, and you can’t make words come out! What do you do then?
I totally hear you. I have been in my fair share of situations where I am just speechless. Stunned. Shocked. I can’t even compute what is going on, much less how to process it or respond to it. Not just happy ones. Uncomfortable, awkward, conflict-y ones.
I can’t figure out which end is up. I don’t want to make the situation worse. And I don’t want to hurt the other person. So I often sit there, totally confused, not knowing what to say.
We’ve talked about the value of connecting with the Lord, even if it’s simply saying, “Jesus.” And having your ‘moo’ ready, “Pardon me,” or “um,” or whatever it may be to break the conversation.
But then the E? You really expect me to put together a coherent sentence?
I get that. It can be challenging. Especially for those of us who are ponderers… who don’t necessary feel like we have a lot of words.
I was watching Beth Moore’s Believing God DVDs at the wise advice of a friend, and one of the things she said was especially helpful for me. It’s part of video #6, in which she talks about a phrase that just echoes in my head with that finger of hers pointing, “Open your mouth and speak!”
Here’s the background. She’s talking about Jeremiah 23:29,
“Is not my word like fire?” declares the LORD.
And she unfolds,
“The Spirit inside of you is flammable. And when you believe, and you speak the Word, you light that flammable Spirit within you, and you become a lamp set on a hill for all to see. And you are intimidating to the Enemy, and he begins to take notice that this is not someone that can be easily defeated.
“The Spirit of truth is within us… When we add the Word of truth to the Spirit of truth, it is like speaking his language…With the Word of God, we begin to speak the language of the Holy Spirit within us. And I want to tell you something: he gets up. He gets up. That’s when the Holy Spirit stands up within us, and we are consumed with a holy fire.”
With the combination of the Spirit and the Word, ♪ this girl is on fire! ♫ : )
You needn’t have a coherent argument. Simple Scripture does it! For example,
“The Lord tells me to think on things that are true and noble, and I am uncomfortable hearing these things.”
That isn’t perfect, but it’s God’s Word, and it does the trick. It may sound awkward. It may sound weird. There may be something better to say. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but try.
“It doesn’t matter what it sounds like to anyone else. It sounds like God to the devil!!”
That is the line that I just love! If someone is speaking untrue or ignoble things about you or someone else, say something. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just try. Your goal isn’t perfection and having everyone believe you are eloquent and said the perfect thing.
“So often we’re afraid of what people are going to think. Half the people that we’re afraid of are miserable. Do we want to be like them? Yes, we want to love ‘em. But I just want to ask you a question: the very people you’re wanting approval from, is it that you want to be like them, or do you want the joy of the Lord? And the satisfaction in knowing you made it to your Promised Land? When we’re standing before God, we’re not going to be able to point, ‘Well she was why I didn’t make it there. Do you remember how she acted when I tried to go?’”
Our Promised Land is a place of possession. It will always involve conquest. There will be invasions.
Our goal is to protect our precious Promised Land. To stop sin. To keep it from creeping in.
“That is the role of boundaries; they define and preserve our property, our soul.” ~ Boundaries
And it surprisingly doesn’t always take that much.
“Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” ~ James 4:7
It doesn’t say defeat the devil or conquer the devil. Simply resist him. That is the goal of your E. Not to convince or win over. Simply to put up a bit of resistance to the devil or the sin or the disparaging.
“As it turns out, I don’t really have to fight the devil at all; I only need to assume the right posture toward him.” ~ Champagne for the Soul
The goal of your E is simply to try to add a bit of resistance. Not to win over the world. Not to change the world. Not to attack or squash. Simply to add some resistance to protect the preciousness of God’s kingdom… including you!
“God will match our effort, but he will never do our work for us. That would be an invasion of our boundaries… The ‘wicked and lazy’ servant was passive. He did not try. God’s grace covers failure, but it cannot make up for passivity. We have to do our part.” ~ Boundaries
So we open your mouth and speak. We simply try! The Lord can use it. Even if we don’t feel like we have the perfect thing to say to stop it, we try. As long as it is not attacking, we try to offer a brief explanation.
As a consolation prize, if you’re coming up blank — or if you’re like I was for years before I understood verbal abuse, not at all believing it was of the Lord, but not having the understanding or words to put to it yet — even if you have to say,
“This doesn’t feel right to me. I need to excuse myself and think about it.”
Do it! Even that little bit of resistance can help. Now that’s not a ‘get out of jail free’ card. You’ll have to come back to it. But if nothing else seems possible to formulate, it may be your runner up.
(Oh yikes. The Lord just convicted me. I should have done this the other day:
“To me, this doesn’t feel honoring. I need to excuse myself.”
That would have been a good E for my situation.)
Hmmm… I may be the only one who ends up speechless. If so, thanks for letting me brainstorm what to say! If you have other ideas, I’d love to hear them.
Now I’m off to work on that missed E!
And maybe practice my head nods. : )
photo credit: Luke Hayfield