Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Word Without Words: A Title, A Scripture, and a Way of Life

I love words.  I love lots of words. I love writing words. Lots of words. Verbose much? Yes, with no apologies! Today's words...atheism, word, without, actions

The Preface:
Before I dive into words specifically, let me start off by letting you know that my husband, Keith, is reading my blog.  While I don't need his permission, I do desire his blessing, support, and love.  Some of you will be relieved to know that I have it.  This is our life, albeit from my perspective, and no life exists in isolation.  My actions ripple to touch him and our children as well.  

The Words:
If you haven't picked up on it through the page I added to my blog yesterday (Dawn's Details) or on Facebook,  my husband is an atheist.  Although we married 20.5 years ago on a shared foundation of faith and began raising our family in that faith, he has actively claimed atheism for the last 3 years or so.  The process and reasons,  I'll save for another day, another blog post. (I have some things to say to us Believers on this topic!  Big things.) Early on, Keith grieved his own loss of faith and wanted a return to faith.  Faith provides comfort and our community has always centered around our church home.  As time has passed and we've had more hard things to deal with, Keith does not want or intend to ever return to faith in God or Jesus.

As you can probably imagine, such a drastic change in core beliefs makes for a lot of work and renegotiation in a marriage and in parenting.  This is emotionally exhausting work. The 1st part of this work for me has been facing, accepting, and grieving this loss and this change. I have experienced anger over the stress this has caused us, especially our kids.  It hurts my heart that Keith's change in beliefs has also changed the story of our family, as he tells it.  My telling of our story is a telling of God.  Fortunately, we have a good marriage.  We have been through many other hard things that have helped to prepare us for this hard.  We communicate well mostly, stay connected and have great chemistry.  (Even our therapist comments on our chemistry.  And FYI--even good marriages need and benefit from counseling.  We all always can use fine-tuning, objectivity and improvement!)  We remain committed to each other and to our family.  When we have had big decisions to make regarding our children, and we have been and remain 100% on the same page.

Without Words:
This atheism and faith has been the hardest thing for us to talk about.  Ever. We are both passionate and emotional about our beliefs.  We both want our children to be taught THE truth.  We both feel defensive sometimes over our beliefs and positions.  We both believe we are right. We both would like the other to change positions, if truth be told, because it would make our immediate lives much easier. We both want to discuss our beliefs with each other, our most intimate partners.  But we can't.  We hope to get there at some point.  Right now, we agree to disagree and we agree to tread lightly with each other on these topics.  

Because we can't use words with each other on this topic, we focus on actions and relationship.  We can love each other.  We can laugh with each other.  We can enjoy each other.  We can support each other, even in disagreement.  Early on in my facing and accepting Keith's atheism, I was grasping for anything, anyone, any book who could help me learn how to be in this life and marriage when beliefs are so opposite after such a drastic change.  I searched scripture as well for encouragement and direction.  Many hours of prayers and tears..  A friend came across a book she hadn't read but thought might be helpful.  The book is titled, Winning Him Without Words. Dineen Miller and Lynn Donovan are its authors and they also provide and moderate online support and community.  (Link under For Support and Education)  Although these women began their marriages without faith, these 2 wives have come to faith while their husbands have not.  The book helped change my focus from all that is now different in our lives and marriage, to all that we have in common, is shared, and is good.  

This book empowered me to not use so many words.  The key scripture for this book, and now in my life and marriage, is 1 Peter 3:1-2, "Likewise, wives be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct."  (ESV, emphasis mine)  Words will not save my husband.  Words will not save my marriage.  Words will not convict my children's hearts, or anyone's really for that matter.  Love saves.  Love communicates.  Love is action.  Love models respect while disagreeing to our children.  Love speaks respectfully of each other regarding our beliefs to our children.  My mission in my marriage right now is to love my husband, and that is an oh, so easy one.  My job title does not include persuading, pressuring, convicting, indicting, judging, or nagging my man.  I believe my God is big enough to handle everything that needs handling.  His arm is not too short. (Isaiah 52:10) I have asked Keith to also not use words so much with me when it comes to this topic.  I have asked he only love me in return, and he loves me well.  Words for us on these topics just hurt too much still.  

So, now you have some insight as to why I've titled this blog, Won Without a Word.  This scripture and this way of living is applicable everywhere.  We all often use too many words.  Too many times our actions and the fruit of our lives does not back up our words.  You may tell me one thing regarding your belief, your intent, your heart , but if your actions and fruit do not align, I will not believe or trust your words.  Actions are STILL LOUDER than THE WORDS.  The scripture that heads my blog echoes a similar principle. "The words of the wise heard in quiet are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools."  Ecc. 9:17 (ESV)  A wise teacher, or parent, knows that getting louder does not make your words clearer, more accepted, or more likely to be considered or obeyed.  The wise LEADer knows that to get the attention of a noisy classroom, she must get quieter.  To get a screaming toddler to listen to your words instead of trying to outmatch your loud, whispers quietly.  Our followers will only begin to really listen when they have to become more still and quiet so they can hear us.

Lord, I want to be a LEADer who is quiet with words and loud with love.  May it be so.

Oh, the irony for a wanna-be blogger and word-lover...

P.S.  Please excuse my formatting issues in today's blog post and my unwillingness to struggle with something that isn't even the words...

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