Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wild Wild West

Photo Courtesy of BBC Radio, TODAY show
Dust blew across the now-deserted dirt road that served as Main Street in Anytown, Wild Wild West.  Curious and frightened townsfolk pulled back their curtains just enough to peek through the windows and watch what would happen between the dueling parties.  Children were hushed and scurried off so they wouldn't be exposed to the carnage sure to follow soon.  Horses stamped nervously and whinnied with the tension.  Crunching of packed-down sand came from two sets of boots and spurs walking with determination to face the foe, six-shooters hanging ready in hip holsters.  Muscles tightened and teeth were gritted in resolution.  The adversaries had piercing, cold daggers in their eyes as they surveyed the rival.  An eerie, heavy silence settled down upon the scene while everyone waited to see who would act first.

It's a showdown!  Wild West style.   Well, not exactly.  No six-shooters.  No holsters, chaps, or spurs.  No tumbleweed rolling across the desolate landscape.  The setting is less glamorous...just my home.  No cowboys and saloon girls.  The characters in this husband and I.  But we have no shortage of stubborn determination and pride.  Piercing gaze for the adversary spouse?  Check.  Teeth gritted in resolution?  Check.  Waiting for the first move?  Check.

I found myself in a showdown recently.  Our relationship encountered a juncture that positioned me on one end of the street while my husband faced me down on the other end.  We had named the issue we wanted to address.  We knew what needed to be done.  Yet we still waited, angry, frustrated, and each convinced the other was wrong. Each was committed to getting our personal brand of justice.  Who moves first?  And  no--don't worry--not for a six-shooter.  In this scene the move is to lay the six-shooter down on the ground.  Hands might be raised in surrender of pride, or in a gesture to reach out to the other person.  But alas, we continued to hold our ground and piously wait for the other to ask forgiveness so we could dole it out graciously, ever benevolent and tolerant.

I probably have spent enough time reasoning about why I'm right to have earned multiple graduate degrees.  My evidence can reach thesis-level documentation and research into the facts pertaining to my case (as I perceive them, of course).  Whether it's prosecution or defense, my verdict is always innocent.  I even like to imagine the presiding judge shaking his or her head at the antics of the other side, clearly seeing the errors of my husband's ways and supporting my claims.  Certainly I cannot be expected to be the first to back off in a showdown?  Why, that would mean admitting I'm wrong.  That I actually contributed to the problem.  That I screw up--well, all the time.  That my pettiness rises up and that my choices aren't always life-giving.  That I like to find the speck in my husband's eye before I remove the log in my own.

Humility has to be one of the most difficult choices, ever!  What if I don't get the apology I--ahem--deserve?

So that I don't leave you in suspense with a cliffhanger, here is the conclusion.  The effort was made, by my husband and myself in different ways.  Each of us took a couple of hard steps that involved humility and a dose of awkwardness too.  I'm incredibly proud to say we both climbed that mountain together.  It felt like a dam breaking open after a crack weakened the previously formidable structure.  Forgiveness began to flow, conversation resumed and even flourished.  Laughter broke forth again and refreshed our dwindling reserves. Our companionship deepened yet another level. 

This isn't only about marriage, is it?  That's just my story for today.  Showdowns happen all the time in different ways with different people living out different roles of life.  May I remember the fruit from this experience and use it for the next.

Linking this here.


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