November 29, 2017
Saying No to Nagging
As the oldest of seven children, an analytical puzzle-solver who is rarely wrong (sarcasm), and a perfectionist, I also have a rather uncanny knack of nagging to get people to do stuff (I heard a sermon on the persistent woman before the judge and thought nagging was the same as her persistence.) Since I was about ten or twelve, I started to learn (mostly from watching my Daddy while he was driving) that I don’t have to say what I’m thinking to that person’s face. Because of this, I learned how to keep my nagging thoughts to myself around my siblings. The younger ones who didn’t remember the nagging dictator began to enjoy my company and actually listen to me when I suggested they do something! (This was an amazing and empowering discovery!)
Fast forward to when I’m a young woman considering long-term relationships with a fearful heart. (I actually have to talk to a person I know nothing about? GOD! How I am going to do this?) I think I could actually hear God laughing, and the wind blew my Bible open to Proverbs 31. (Anyone else remember singing that catchy song a guy sang about a “P31”? Airplane-crazy younger me thought he was talking about a plane. At least, teenage me realized he meant a woman.)
Have you ever read Proverbs 31? The whole thing?? I freaked out and thought, “no way can I be all that.”
God said, “one verse at a time.”
So I started studying about the ideal woman. (Most of the time, I laughed and journaled stuff like “I am NEVER going to be that!” and “This is IMPOSSIBLE!”) Slowly I realized that this perfect woman just loved God first, loved her husband second, and allowed love and wisdom to rule her. (Her business savvy totally intrigued me.) Then came the part that is still my hardest challenge… I study by flipping to suggested parallel verses and almost everywhere in Proverbs this poor guy was saying stuff that I interpreted as “it is better to be buried in the deepest, darkest, scorpion-infested, cave that belongs to lions named “Ghost” and “Darkness” than to live in a palace with a nagging woman.” (I thought, “CRUD! Okay, God, this one you will really have to do for me.”)
In my study I realized that by “nagging” the Bible meant a woman asking, telling, or pleading with a man to get him to do something. (I substantiated this by interviews with older married men I knew and they agreed. One guy even said, “ask me once, I heard ya; say it twice and I turn my ears off.”) I decided that once I was married, I would practice not nagging by only voicing my opinion once. (At this point, I still “know” I’m right 99.9999% of the time, so I made an asterisk in my journal that added, “but in important matters I will remain firm.”) I think God laughed at that too because who is to say what is important?
God’s timing is always perfect.
I finished writing my five-pages-in-my-journal decision after almost a year of study – writing everything I thought a Biblical woman in today’s world should be and listing the qualities I wanted to cultivate in preparation for being a wife and mother. I ended it with a prayer (as I usually do when I journal) that read: “God, I think I’m ready to start my forever relationship. If you think I am ready, please let the guy ask me out if I have met him…”
And God laughed again. (That was written Monday, July 1st. Louis told me we were going out on Wednesday, July 3rd. We were engaged on July 20th & married life began on November 22nd.)
Have I conquered that nagging thing? (NNOO!!) My brain still talks back, but I have learned to keep my sarcastic thoughts inside, take a breath, form a perfect suggestion, SPEAK IT ONCE (ONLY ONCE, remember? You promised God that! – I had to argue that with my brain for the first 12 or 13 years of marriage every time.), and leave the rest to God.
This was also a HUGE trust issue for me. (See, I like to be in control so giving that to another human even if I trust God to lead him is just bonkers to my analytical brain.)
I learned that to respect my husband meant to trust him to trust God with his decisions (our decisions) and over time, God has taught Louis that most of the time; it’s a good thing to listen to my suggestion. (He said that, not me. I never even mentioned this challenge until about a year ago when it was mentioned to me that “you never nag” and I had to answer the question, “why?” It had always been something between me and God.)
Well, I guess the good thing is that Louis hasn’t lamented for people 3,000 years later to read “I wish to be in Daniel’s lion cave instead of with this nagging woman!” (At least, he hasn’t said that yet.)
Thanks for reading!
Type at you later…