Waking Up

Okay, I don’t really mean sleeping. I just mean, what do you do when you’ve been awakened to something new and everyone else, it seems, is still asleep? Certainly this is a pertinent topic in today’s political and social climate, but it applies to loads of scenarios. How you deal with your newfound knowledge can be detrimental to the state of your relationships.

First up, let’s get a big topic out of the way. Being “awake” is not the same thing as being “woke.” If there is one thing both of those groups can agree one (and there really is probably only the one thing to agree upon) it’s that statement. Woke people think that awake people are stuck in the dark ages. Awake people think woke people are blind to reality. It’s a horse that’s already long since dead, so let’s not dwell here and beat it.

Nearly every topic I could use as an example is wildly controversial. In today’s climate, every little thing is a reason to find offense. So I ask that you receive this in the spirit it is offered…with love and humility and a hope that my experience may help yours be less painful.

We are going to talk about this topic in light of marriage, but it really applies to any relationship. Have you ever heard someone going through a divorce saying, “he’s not the man I married” or “she just changed.” Well, hello there, Captain Obvious. No kidding. Everyone grows and changes and learns and morphs. The question is, what do you do with it?

My husband and I are both seekers of knowledge, but we approach things from very different angles. I’m direct and intense and to the point. He’s more a circle-the-wagons kind of guy. In college, if I struggled in a class or was super excited about the topic, I sat near the front of the class. My husband always sat in the last row, surveying the landscape. People in my major knew who I was…not in a bad way…I just interacted. My husband could identify roughly 800 of the 1000 people in his graduating class, but probably only 100 knew him. Get the point? We both love learning, but we are far from the same creature.

Faith has been a huge topic for us our entire lives. When we were in high school together there were questions and curiosities between us. Clay was Catholic. I was Protestant. He knew virtually nothing about what I believed and barely anything about his own faith, if we are to be honest. I knew exactly what I believed and pretty much what every other branch of Christianity believed as well.

After we got married, we continued to learn and grow and seek. His seeking made me crazy uncomfortable. He was circling the wagons, as I mentioned before. Truth is, he’s still circling and likely will for his entire life. Me? I want to know more and more of the truth of God. I go directly to the center. He circles around and never quite gets to center. 

Now, let’s talk about navigating this situation. First up, let me speak directly to you, wife. You have great power. If you’ve ever seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding, you know…..the husband is the head, but the wife is the neck and she can turn him any way she chooses. I believe that. Don’t you dare abuse that, however. It is not a good scenario.

I get overly excited when I find a piece of new-to-me truth. I want to share. When I was younger and a whole lot less wise, I also wanted to convince those with whom I shared this new discovery. Why? Because I’m a discerning individual. Once I know something, I KNOW IT. I forgot that sometimes things simply have to be learned by the person themself. Share, but gently and with love.

You are called to love folks where they are on their journey. Just because you know that vaccines are toxic, the election was rigged, and that Disney is evil doesn’t mean that other people are ready to know it, too. Some folks are content not knowing things. And that’s okay. Your job is to love ‘em where they are and be there when some long held belief collapses. (And don’t be waiting with an “I told you so” either!)

A great rule to remember is the Rule of 9. Most people, in order to incorporate a new concept into their psyche, must be introduced or exposed to it nine times. No, not nine times in a row like a broken record, either. Nine times over the course of time, from different sources, with time to consider and ponder and adapt. Just because they give you the stiff arm when you try to talk to them doesn’t mean they will never see what you see. It just means they need more time or more information. Patience is key.

Lastly, I encourage you to employ the concept of chess moves. I love this idea because it not only gives you some specific guidelines, but it also lets you off the hook. The idea is this: you share some bit of information with a person and then you wait for them to respond. Oh, you may circle back a good long time later, but you allow the interaction to percolate in their mind. If they are ready for more information, they will ask. You don’t move again until they respond. Chess moves.

The topic of helping others see what you see is so near and dear to my heart. I used to do it in all the wrong ways. I blasted people with what I knew to be true. And the truth is, I sure don’t get it right all the time now. But thank the good Lord, I’ve learned a lot in the past five years and I hope my experiences can help you!

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