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?
Image Source: designformankind.com via TheVoice on Pinterest
I just popped over from Nony’s at A Slob Comes Clean….. And boy did your post ever hit the nail on the head! I too am loyal to the core & Lord have pity on you when you break my heart or as you said ‘say something about my people’. It takes a loooooong time for me to come to terms with it. Especially if it was a relationship that I put my whole heart into.
I’ve found that it’s hard for me to let go. I’ve always been the ‘fixer’, the ’emotional picker-upper’ in our family (and in my friendships)… it took me a long time to realize that God gives people consequences for a reason and I need to let those people mire in their own consequences. Can I sympathize? Can I support? Can I offer advice (and realize that it’s not a personal affront to me if they don’t take it)? Can I be a sounding board?….. Yes, yes, yes….. But then it’s my job to LET IT GO…. And love those people where they’re AT…. and accept what THEY can give…. Not how much I want back… It’s not their job to do that…. to make me content & feel loved….. it’s my job to make that for me….
I call it the Mother Bear instinct, even when it’s not my children being referred to. I can actually feel her rearing up inside me and hear the wide mouthed roar. Claws come out and it’s Katie, bar the door! I can say what I want to about those I love, but nobody else better dare try–at least not within my hearing. Don’t know who Mark Driscoll is and didn’t click on your link, since I’m pretty sure I disagree with him. Couldn’t care less what he has to say.
Hooray for you and having the courage to stand up for those who mean the most to you!
I guess I’m commenting on the Mark Driscoll thing. Was he wrong? Yes. Definitely. Should he apologize? Absolutely. I also believe he should seek forgiveness. But, I don’t think spiritual leaders should be held to a higher standard or put on a pedestal. They have a degree to be in leadership. They have been brought into leadership by God, but they are human and they fail and they sin, just like the rest of us. They are not immune to sin or acts of stupidity. I look at King David and King Solomon…wise, godly men, placed in leadership by God, and looked up to by many. But, they were both still human and committed very sinful acts. But, both had the humility to confess their sin before a holy God. In Mark Driscoll’s case, Technology is a good and bad thing…often our words are put out there and we have the courage to say things from behind the computer for in our opinion, the ‘sake of honesty’ but many people are hurt in the process.
p.s. I hate commenting sometimes because a person can’t see my facial expressions or hear my voice when I’m commenting…so, I hope my above comment didn’t seem snarky or rude or challenging…I was just coming from the point of view as someone who is currently working in ministry, but it may have come across as curt. Sorry friend!
I did not read your comment as curt, Nik! Don’t worry! I do think the Bible is clear about teachers needing to be careful with the responsibility they’ve been given. But I absolutely agree that we should all practice grace and forgiveness, no matter a person’s position. So we’re not too far apart in our stances here, I don’t think. No worries!
I think you’re right to be offended by what Mr. Driscoll said. I saw on another blog that i read where someone was very upset about his comment. I am not familiar with him as I am not much for popular culture whether it be secular or otherwise. The comment was awful and he does have some apologizing to do.
The Bible is fairly clear about teachers and preachers being held to a higher standard. That isn’t man’s decision or idea, it was God’s. That’s why the Bible says to be careful before taking on positions such as these, because you will be held more accountable. Why? Because you are the bearer of God’s word to others as well as the shepherd to the flock.
I hear you LOUD AND CLEAR!!! Words are very important, and if it happens to be our love language (one of my biggies too), words can hurt us in ways other people can’t imagine.
And I’m with you about Mark Driscoll. He’s got issues.
and BTW James 3:1 makes it clear that teachers will be judged more harshly… and that judgment is directly related to the way they use their speech (Js 3:2-11). When we are in ministry (as I am), our words can do a lot more harm than the regular person on the street. I don’t think we are called to a higher level of perfection than anyone else, but by virtue of the responsability/priviledge that God has given us of being able to serve Him, we need to be more careful about what we say and how we say it. Mark Driscoll repeatedly ignores this, and says things in ways that are offensive. His views on women, marriage and non-macho men in particular leave a lot to be desired.
Mary, I read an account of Mark Driscoll’s comments on someone else’s blog. I just wanted to tell you that I like the way you told about how this relates to you personally. It made your response all the better to read. Although, his comments angered you, and I don’t know how you responded elsewhere, here you have just been clear, calm, and concise, without stirring up divisive emotions in people. I wanted to leave a comment on the other blog I read but I just could not find the words. Your words here say it perfectly: “Spiritual leaders are held to a higher standard and that includes not stirring up hateful discussion about others.”
I do know about Mark Driscoll and this isn’t the first time he has stirred up some controversy, although it’s the first I’d heard about this particular case. I am a words person too, and I know that is my love language. I bet that is true for a lot of writers, you are going to talk peoples words seriously.
I know this is an old blog post but thank you for writing it. Went thru one a hard year and being a former PK, music directors wife and someone who’s love language is loyalty I feel like you described me to a T! Oh man. I think in constantly learning and growing that managing my expectations with people is the best way to counteract the feeling of betrayal when that’s all the person can give or be. I’m still in the learning phase that “well why wouldn’t they do that because that’s what I’d do” oddly enough thru years of failed loyalty in relationships with friends and church leaders I realize that God truly hand picks our friends specific to what we need and it’s been an amazing faith journey for me to take in trust. Loyalist I find often struggle with trusting others. Isn’t that ironic! :) saving your blog for future reads!
Hi Lisa! Thanks for visiting and commenting! I’ll be honest – my first instinct is definitely “why wouldn’t they do that; it’s what I’d do”! :) I was just talking today with a friend about how to not take it personally when someone we know behaves and communicates SO differently than how I do. It’s hard, but when I sit back and think it through, I really AM thankful God made all different parts of the Body. Now if only I could learn to go to that Truth first instead of indignation or frustration!