Back and Forth

“I’m a lover, not a fighter.  I kinda like it that way.”  I haven’t thought of the song for years, but tonight, I’m hearing the country twang of Skeeter Davis in my head, imagining her singing as she bounced along to the steel guitar, fiddle, and guitars.  You see, I picked a fight today.  No, not a fist fight.  But, actually, the way I feel tonight, it might just as well have been.

Earlier, I replied to a post by an acquaintance on one of the prominent social media.  He expressed a viewpoint with which I disagreed and, since it involves a pending referendum in my community, I thought he should know that not everyone agreed with him.  Now, after a number of hours, and a lot of words (most of them by yours truly), I’m wondering if there is a modified DeLorean automobile somewhere in the vicinity to which I might gain access.  I’d like to take a little spin with Marty McFly and turn back the clock on the last few hours of my life.  Can anybody help me with that?

Did I make any statements about which I am ashamed?  Not exactly.  Did I attack anyone personally?  Not at all.  It’s just that…how to say this?  I’m not the guy I used to be.  I guess that’s what I want to say.  I used to be the arguer.  I’ve told you that my mom suggested I would argue with a fence post and expected me to become a lawyer.  I even told you that my brothers called me a little motorboat, since every statement with which I disagreed was met with an instant, “But, but, but…”  I have sat on boards and argued, played in music groups and argued, even been in table conversation with my family and argued; all to the detriment of relationships and the general welfare of the forum in which I chose to be combative.  I’m not that person anymore.

Except that I am.  It’s been a little while since the motorboat was brought out for a spin, but given the right conditions, it sprung to life as if it had never been stowed away.  I can go through extended periods of time without standing next to a single fence post and gesticulating wildly while ranting.  But let someone push (or even brush) the right button and I am in full voice, brain racing ahead (barely) of my words, letting the unfortunate human have a large piece of my mind.  Most of you know all too well that I can ill afford to give away even a small part of my mind, much less a large piece.  I am an arguer.  Worse, I am frequently undisciplined in my control of my tongue.  In the New Testament, James talks about the tiny rudder that directs the huge ship, describing the tongue.   My problem isn’t the rudder of a huge ship, but just the little thing that guides that pesky motorboat.

Tonight, I repent.   REPENT verb (ri-`pent): To turn away from, as from sin; To feel regret for one’s actions.    I want to believe that I will not return to this activity again; I want to say that I am definitely NOT  an arguer.  I will never fire up the motorboat again; will never stand next to a fence post and talk until I am blue in the face.  I want all those things to be true and will attempt to make them so.

That said, I do, in reality, know what I am and who I am.  I know that I’m not man enough to tame this little piece of skin that’s right behind my teeth.  I’ve tried it on my own and failed miserably again and again.  For some reason, the picture in my mind right now is of some smokers I’ve known who tried to quit on their own many times, without success.  They can go for days, sometimes for weeks, without lighting up, but one day you meet them on the street and the little white stick filled with tobacco is smoking away between their lips again.  The Lovely Lady has a brother who was in that situation for many years, until he had a heart attack and the doctor told him that he was certainly going die if he didn’t quit.  Two things moved him from being a smoker to being an ex-smoker – the motivation of the potential death sentence, and the medication that the doctor prescribed, which took away the physical symptoms of his addiction.  His desire to continue the destructive habit was stilled.  With my problem, I’ve definitely got the motivation, but I need the medication.

I think I may have discovered the prescription.  I’m going to put the patch on my arm tonight.  I’ll let you know how it goes (or maybe you can let me know if it’s working).

What’s that?  The prescription?  Oh…James had it all along.  “…The wisdom that comes from Above…”  I thought it had to come from inside meGo figure!

“But the wisdom that comes from above is first of all pure.  It is also peace-loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others.  It is full of mercy and good deeds.  It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.”
(James 3:17~NLT)

“I am not arguing with you.  I am telling you.”
(James Whistler~American artist~1834-1903)

One thought on “Back and Forth

  1. Apparently, I have a similar reputation in my immediate family, except that in my case, substitute my mother’s use of “sign post” for your mother’s “fence post.” Perhaps that’s because I grew up in a city instead of rural south Texas. I remember clearly around age 11 that I was determined to have the last word, even if it gained me nothing. If I was going to lose the arguement, at least I’d poke one more hole in the prosecution’s case. My reasons for arguing have gotten more righteous (in my eyes anyway) but still roll out too quickly sometimes. Oh, for 30 seconds’ delay! Unfortunately (or fortunately), I can be the very worst with people I care about the most, in relationships where I feel the most secure. It’s gotten slightly better over the years, chiefly because I discovered that, in the few cases where I won, I still lost. The winner’s circle has a large diameter that’s difficult to cross, and the isolation is rarely worth it. I’m glad that, because God made us, He knows us fully, and when we ask for wisdom, He gives it generaously without finding fault. It also seems to help to verbalize our weaknesses (confess your sins one to another). “Hello, my name is Elizabeth, and I’m an arguer.” I hope you’ll be encouraged today.

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