Who’s your puppetmaster?
I have only ever slapped a woman once. And I was terrified when I did it. It was the first time I met my stepsons’ mother and it wasn’t until later that I learned she had not been told, as I had, that the purpose of our meeting was for this introduction to take place. As a matter of fact, she had no clue I was going to be there and she was furious at my husband and took it out on both of us. Years later, I found myself in the same exact position she was in that evening and immediately I understood why she had behaved the way she had. That night, though, I had no idea what was going on and why she was being such a raging bitch. After all the stories I’d heard about “Satan” (my then-husband’s pet name for his ex-wife), I was quite intimidated when she got all up in my face yelling at me and I lashed out defensively. All hell broke loose. She ended up jumping on his back and began punching him in the head, we had to take down witnesses’ phone numbers, yada, yada, yada…. It was a mess. Yeah, I have a mean streak and I can talk a big game, but when it all comes down to it I’m just not one for physical combat.
That’s not to say that I haven’t had a mind to smack the hell outta someone from time to time. Tonight was one of those nights. I’m not going to go into the whole story, but suffice to say that I was not the only one who felt this woman needed a good slap upside the noggin. It was one of those moments when you’re just so dumbfounded by what’s going on that your eyeballs just fall right out of your head. Instead of exploding, I thanked her for her input, let her know that she was way off base and I didn’t appreciate her judgement, then ignored her as I went about picking up my eyeballs and placing them back in their sockets.
Now, let me stop right here, because I don’t want to give you the wrong impression. No, I’m not one for physical violence. But boy, oh boy can I cut a person off at the knees with my words. I seem to have a pretty good knack for reading right into the heart of people. Oftentimes, I can tell a person what they’re feeling and why before they even know it themselves. It’s only recently that I’ve realized I can use this power for good. For many years, I would attempt to make feel myself superior by exploiting the insecurities of those who crossed me. I knew exactly what would hurt the worst and I stuck that verbal blade in and twisted it. Growing up the victim of verbal, emotional abuse, I know first hand just how damaging my words were. And I had no remorse. If you hurt me, by God, you were going to regret it forever.
That didn’t happen tonight, though. Tonight was one of times when I was able to see that whole “educational variety” of spiritual experience. I left the restaurant with my feathers still ruffled, but it felt like real effort to carry that anger around, so I just kinda gave up on it. Wait, when did that happen? Since when have I been able to just shrug off an offense of that magnitude? I have carried around grudges over much more minor things for YEARS before. I’m not saying I’d like to call up this woman to go shopping sometime, but I’m not actually picturing her head on a spike. No, as a matter of fact, I just feel so sad for her that she feels she has to act like this.
There’s a story about a man who was instructed by God to go push this giant boulder. So every day he goes out and leans into it this way and that, pushing until he’s exhausted. And every day, the boulder just sits there and never budges. After years of doing this, the man gets frustrated that he’s made no progress moving the boulder and yells at God that it’s a worthless endeavor. God reminded the man that the instruction was to push the boulder, not to move it. God says, “If I wanted the boulder moved I would’ve done it myself, but you would not have become strong like you have by pushing against it.”
I’ve got a boulder or two in my life. There are certain people in my life that I will never be able to control; people who really will go out of their way to be mean and nasty, even. The more I put my back into it, though, the quicker I recover from these slings and arrows. Over the past month, I’ve remarked on a few such instances where I have met hatred with tolerance and dismissal with persistence. To some, maybe even most, this may be all “Big whoop,” but this is not something which comes natural to me. I am naturally a very hot-headed individual, more accustomed to reaction than action. Today, though, I choose to not let anyone else pull my strings. Today, I am strong enough to know I don’t have to let others decide how I’m going to feel or act. Today, no one dominates me, no one controls me. And all because I admitted I was powerless….