Thursday, January 20, 2005

Fear Manifests Itself in Strange Ways

I posted this comment over at Boar's Head Tavern in response to this post by Michael. I thought it was worth repeating here.

"Oh jeepers, I'll bite on this one. I agree that something happens when a woman decides where the family goes to church. She no doubt has her hubby by the balls in every other area of life too. Fear often underlies this behaviour. All I can do is share my story.

I was a controlling, manipulative woman when I became a Christian and becoming one gave me a whole new area in which to practice these 'virtues'. I heard all the mantras about men being the head of the household but I tell you I wasn't buying it. Oh, I gave it good lip service and then found a way to get my way to be his way of looking at things. We went all over the map with this. First came the homeschooling then we changed churches, then we home churched then a health crisis had us back at the community church. This was all done in a very small community, in view of everyone. You get to choose between one Protestant church on one side of the river or the other and the Catholic Church. That's it.

I have verbal skills that my husband does not. I could outdo him in any conversation to make it look like my way was THE way. Underlying this whole thing was my need to be right about everything in order to feel secure about my little corner of the world. The reasons for that are a whole 'nother story. I could be vicious and I was. Being right overrode everything. I even went so far as to wear(for a time) a headcovering and dresses to prove my superspiritual state.

The short story is that after a nervous breakdown and eventually learning that needing to be right about everything comes at a huge price, I learned to celebrate the man I married and to celebrate that he sees the world differently than I do. It was a huge gift when I saw that he was not my enemy and not out to 'get me.' We still get teary when we talk about this change in our marriage. It seems impossible that this barrier was broken down considering all the energy I spent keeping it intact.

We eventually made our way back to the community church. It was where we were baptized together 15 years ago. We live in an isolated community in northern Canada. These people are our neighbours. I rarely see eye to eye with many of them about 'church' stuff. I can still fall into the trap of thinking I am better than them for seeing things differently. I rarely am fed more than milk at church but I have a love for the people. They have stood by us through thick and thin.

I recently converted to Catholicism with the blessing of my husband. It is most likely the only church related thing I have ever done without manipulation. We go as a family to the local community church and I go to Mass as well.

A woman deciding for the family where they go to church is a symptom of greater things going on. It is pure grace that any of it gets looked at and dealt with. I always wanted a strong husband who would take the lead in our marriage, not only in where we went to church, but in all areas. My fears kept me from ever considering his opinion as valid for years. Probably more important than me seeing his opinion as valid was that he did the hard inner work that has brought him to the point where he knows his opinion is valid whether I validate it or not. We finally learned to see each other as equals. It's pure grace that has brought us to this point."

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