The Right to Fight for Myself

I imagine you are expecting me to share my opinions on gun control, but I’m talking about another kind of fighting: the kind I am most likely to do—the fight to protect myself emotionally, my feelings, my rights in relationships.

I’m a self-motivated, self-propelled person. I like to get things done. I don’t like to wait and I don’t like to be passive.

This is a problem sometimes in my marriage. I, the pusher, am married to a more passive, think-through-it-first man. I love him dearly, but I’m usually ahead of him, either by having made the decision already on what we should, or I’m starting forward before he’s ready.

I know he is supposed to lead our home, but, like many, I have the natural tendency to think that if I set aside myself and submit to his process, his timing, his preference, I’ll get taken advantage of. I’ll become a doormat. I’ll go crazy with the passivity!

I’m wrong. I remember before I got married, a dear friend in Africa told me that whenever her husband was doing something she thought was the wrong thing (not necessarily sin, just not the best idea), if she fought against it, it always ended up badly. If she did not fight, but chose to pray instead, God always worked it out for good.

This has stuck with me over the years, and I, too, have found this principle to be true. I think it is true in more avenues than just a marriage. The Bible says we are all to submit to one another in love. Here’s how it works. If we are fighting for ourselves—our opinions, our rights, our feelings, our goals—people get defensive and fight back for their own goals and feelings. The problem escalates because people continue to defend and fight for themselves, and everyone, even the person who “wins,” ends up feeling unloved and unhappy.

I’ve studied the concept of meekness in the Bible. It seems to me that meekness mostly means not fighting on your own behalf. And consistently, when a person chose meekness in the Bible, God came through and fought for them.

How does this work? Well, to give an example—a small thing that shouldn’t have been important but was—when we were painting our new home here in North Carolina, I wanted a deep burnt-orange color for the dining room. Brian, who is much less flamboyant than I, was hesitant to use such a bright color for an entire room. He suggested a lighter version.

I really wanted that color. If I had pushed my own way, I know he would have given in, and I would have gotten what I wanted. However, I set aside myself and agreed to try the other color. I was disappointed, but chose to submit (not that he was demanding it of me—submission is a choice I make, not something that should be required).

Wouldn’t you know, as we painted one wall with that lighter color, my husband looked at it and decided it was awful, and we should do my color instead.

My favorite room in the house!

Had I fought for my own preference, I would have gotten my color, but likely every time he looked at it, my husband would have felt defensive and emasculated, and I would have felt angry and proud. Instead, I still ended up with what I wanted, but now my husband likes this color best, too. That room is a happy place for our family, not one of tension between us.

If I could learn to do this in bigger and more important ways, as well as the small, everyday things, I would enjoy more peace and joy.

So my goal for today is less pushing, more praying!  How about you? Are you afraid to give up your “rights”? If you stopped pushing and started praying, what do you think would happen?

Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. 1 Peter 5:5

The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord.
 Isaiah 29:19

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