I’m a defender. It’s what I do– often without thinking about it.
I see someone on the defensive doing poorly, I jump in on their side. Especially if it’s an argument I know and think I could do better than them.
I think I lost a friend this way last year. He hasn’t spoken to me the same way since I took the other side of his literal-6-days creation debate. It is in my nature to try and homogenize, to find the perfect faerie* argument to make everything “technically” mesh.
For the record: I think the “specific Hebrew word for a 24-hour day” argument is weak. The argument that brings me to a literal creationist stance (which, for the record, I hold) is my belief from scripture that death did not exist before the Fall. Therefore, billions of deaths over millions of years– in order to get to a human creature, sentient and capable both of communion with God and division from him– is not possible.
I have a high degree of empathy– the ability to get into other people’s heads or emotions and imagine how certain things affect them. As a result I can take far too much responsibility for their comfort. For their feelings.
And I recently figured out that to be healthy as me I have to quit thinking so much of others.
Whoa! Is a Christian allowed to say that?
You see for about three years now, about as long as I’ve been homeschooling, I’ve been feeling responsible to keep my choices (for example, to homeschool) from making other parents feel guilty for making a different choice.
Before that it was about being a stay-at-home mom, but it seems more people do that with preschoolers so I didn’t feel the separation as keenly.
The point is, I imagined how I’d feel if I were the other parent, and I downplayed the significance of our different choices because, well, if she wanted to be home, I didn’t want her to feel bad, and even if she didn’t, I wanted very much to avoid any possible conflict or fight over which choice was better or (an even worse word) “correct.”
This sheltering or defending of others has continued as Jay and I made our lives more complicated and atypical: gluten-free, debt-free, tiny house, homegrown (I like to call it “ethical”) meat.
I’ve avoided talking about our choices, especially the whys, because I didn’t want to draw such stark lines as I knew they’d create.
So I basically said what anybody chooses doesn’t matter, because we’re all different, with different needs and different stages. And while that’s true, and I really don’t want to create a hierarchy or polarize folks, it killed me emotionally.
Because I had just said– continually said, over years— that what I invested in, the hard stuff I chose because it was important to me and I felt it was worth it and made a difference– Didn’t. matter.
And I don’t want to do that any more. This is where I need to be my defender and trust everyone else to be grown-up enough to own and love their own decisions.
I’m certainly not going to pick any fights, but I’m going to quit being embarrassed of how hard I work. I do it for real reasons, and those reasons carry me through. Make me stick with things even when they’re hard.
What I do is valuable. Not something to kick under the bed like the shoes my husband won’t get rid of. I’m proud of what I do. It is important and worth defending.
*Faerie are creepy to me on a couple levels. The main one is their commitment to the truth– as it is useful to them. Their methodology is to manipulate the “mortal” they speak with by speaking nothing but the *exact* truth. Of course they will direct, imply and manipulate to their purpose’s end, but they will never be culpable to the charge that they ever spoke falsehood.
When I talk of me speaking faerie I mean it in terms of working words or reality as a puzzle that I’m trying (by means of the exactness or slipperiness of language) to meld differing views enough to bring cooperation if not true peace.
And in case anyone needs me to add it, no I don’t believe in faeries. They’re just a usefully specific type of truth-teller, and I like having a precise vocabulary.
I get this. I too am a defender though not so much from empathy, I’m just not gifted with getting inside people’s heads, but from a justice sense.
And I get downplaying who you are so you won’t make others feel bad, which is one of the reasons I love to write. No one has to read it but I still get to share my beliefs and passions.
And a friend who’s not a friend because you challenged him theologically (or whatever the word is for creation vs. evolution stuff – you now, some ology) maybe wasn’t such a close friend to begin with?
PS. thanks for visiting FIMBY
YES about the writing. I’m just figuring that out, and that’s what’s given me new energy to write: in the same vein as this post, I’m reluctant to “force” my thoughts or teaching on someone else, and realizing (like you say) writing just makes it available leaves me freer to say what I want.
If folk aren’t interested, no one’s making them read it.
Your quote: “If folk aren’t interested, no one’s making them read it.”
This is very true. I’m also a homeschooler, who is gluten-free, (almost) debt-free (1 1/2 years to go), living in a small house. And I’ve walked through the phase of “keeping your outspoken opinions to yourself about: fighting to stay married when 75% (or more) of women are giving up on their marriages; fighting for my kids morality and education; fighting for our family to stay out of debt while all 4 of us dine off of one income in a double (sometimes triple) income world.
*as an aside I’m reminded of a comment that I received directly once: “don’t make Darrell’s (my husband) lunch when you are around me/us (her and her husband) … you make me feel like a bad wife because I’m not the type of wife you are.” (true story!)
Yes, it is soul killing. We are, who we are, because of the growth in Jesus Christ, turning us into who God is shaping us to be, we need to move in it …. and do it unapologetically.