A few weeks ago Mark and I had a huge fight.
I’m sure you’re shocked to hear this. But even though I don’t talk about it much here, these things do happen. Not nearly as often as they used to, thankfully. But every once in a while, when we’re tired or stressed or facing the limits of our patience, tempers flare and words are exchanged and feelings are hurt.
This was one of those times.
After I stopped crying and yelling and blaming, I tentatively peeked into my heart in an attempt to figure out what the heck just happened. It’s certainly easier, when I’m feeling attacked and hurt, to dump all the blame on my husband and hold onto that anger and resentment with two tight fists. And, honestly, that’s my usual method of dealing.
This time, though, I realized what the underlying issue – my issue – was. The problem, the ultimate cause of our blow-up fight, was my overwhelming desire for loyalty.
I’m not talking about marital fidelity. I’m referring to my [sometimes] irrational need for the people on my side to defend me to the death. After all, it’s what I would do for them.
That’s no boastful exaggeration. If you want to see me get worked up, pick on my people. Make snide remarks or critical insinuations about the people I love. Go ahead and do it. You will see my claws – or, in my case, my biting sarcasm and sky-high soap box – appear before you can say, “Your brother is a dork.”
[And, on the flip side, if you want to see me reduced to shaky, tearful devastation, just reveal that someone has been actively disloyal to me. And if it’s someone I’ve somehow defended, stood up for, lifted up in prayer or otherwise cared deeply for? Well, just go ahead and bring a whole box of Kleenex with you.]
It happened yesterday. First, I read about the comment Mark Driscoll (a pastor at a megachurch in Seattle) posted on Facebook about “effeminate worship leaders.” As the sister to a worship leader who doesn’t fit the typical masculine mold – and got picked on throughout our childhoods – I took issue with that. Actually, I got real riled up.
Then, before I could come to a decision in my internal debate between maintaining my fairly neutral online personality and speaking up against something that really ticked me off, I read a rude comment on a friend’s blog.
And I couldn’t stop myself from responding to THAT comment. Snidely. Gracelessly. And you want to know something? It felt good.
Standing up for my friends, my family, my people is one of the ways I show that I care about them. You just don’t mess with my people.
Including my brother. So, just for the record, I think Mark Driscoll is a rude jerk for saying what he did on Facebook and he should be held accountable for that. Spiritual leaders are held to a higher standard, and I stand firmly behind my belief that one of those standards includes not stirring up hateful discussion about others. In other words, none of us should be jerks, especially pastors. And they sure as heck shouldn’t pick on the people I love.
Edited to add: Mark Driscoll has addressed the issue of his Facebook comment – and the issues underlying that situation – in an article. If you’d like, you can read it here.
I realize that reacting in anger and striking back with snarky comments of my own are not the ways to handle conflicts. I never said I was good at defending people. Just that I feel this urge to do it.
When I first started thinking about this, a friend asked me what loyalty looks like to me. As I explained myself, I quickly realized what she was trying to show me. For me, loyalty is expressed in words, as a person takes a stance or otherwise defends me. And that is consistent with what I already knew: Words of Affirmation is my love language.
If you don’t mind, though, I’m still going to say that loyalty is my other love language. Have you discovered “extra” love languages in your life?