Showing Restraint


I’m a little person and I’m quick. When I’m in a rush, I have this unique talent to maneuver my way through a crowd quite easily and much to the chagrin of my companions who get lost behind the slow family, the fat man and the couple holding hands.  I make my way toward my destination and it’s really a very difficult habit to break.  While on the surface it seems like an innocuous trait, it has come back to bite me many times because I lose the people I’m with.  They get frustrated, and I get frustrated waiting for them to catch up.

I’m generally a goal driven person, and once I set my sites on a target I’m locked in like a jet fighter and nothing short of a crash landing will distract me.  I know this about myself.  I know that I’m good at it.  I push usually only hard enough to get what I want but not enough alienate people around me.  I prod enough to be uncomfortably truthful but not so much as to be reactively flung out the window. I’m bold but not brash.

I’ve grown much more tactful as I have gotten older.  But I know this is one of those things I do.  Innate in my being like a pit bull locking its jaws onto a victim.  In my case I don’t do things to hurt people just to achieve a goal.   Invariably it happens anyway I guess and that is the danger.  I have to be careful.

While the aggression comes very naturally to me the restraint is what takes the effort.

I hate to make the dog analogy again but its like when you are looking for a pet to adopt and you check out their temperament.  Some people are looking for docile, others playful, others watchdogs.  My ex-husband and I were just not a good fit.  Because I was ambitious and feisty and that turned into a very bad thing in his eyes.  He was a hound dog to me being a Jack Russell terrier.  He was content and loyal and easy-going.  (Well that is until he wasn’t loyal…he appeared to be loyal)  I was always looking for something new to discover and master, full of energy that if left pent-up would come out in destructive ways.

I was happy with his hound dogness most of the time.  Sometimes I nipped and barked and tried to motivate him into sparing with me or helping me out with one of my goals.  But I think, no I know, it left him feeling like he couldn’t measure up or somehow he wasn’t good enough.  And in the end I felt the same.  It was a push and pull of two very different people trying to make their way just being who they were born to be.

I still think we could have made it work.  I think when you put your mind to it anything is possible.  But there is my Jack Russell coming out again.  He wasn’t so convinced thus the divorce.  Well, one reason for it anyway.

People used to tell me that I was “too much” for my ex-husband.  I had too much personality, too much drive, too much energy, too many opinions, too much thought.  Always 20 steps ahead of him in any given scenario.  I just figured things out faster.  I could do the research, the reading and come to a well-thought out conclusion in a quarter of the time it took for him.  I was always trying to slow myself down, treading water for a while giving him time to catch up.  But instead of trying he just gave up and said, “Well whatever you think is fine.”  And that is how my life played out.

What kind of mortgage, cereal, car, potting soil, carpet, or olive oil: the decision was mine.  What sort of school, church, or credit card we should sign up for was my decision as well.  The burden was on me to figure everything out and I hated that burden.

I wanted an equal partner who can stay up with my pace. But he didn’t want to have to try that hard and looking back I understand that.  He wanted to be what felt comfortable being him and I wanted to be what felt comfortable being me.

Sad.  Did I know this before I even got married?  Probably.  But I didn’t think it mattered how different we were.  Opposites attract and all that.  And I liked how he was different from me for the most part.  I did long for someone to jump up and sing Karaoke with me like Martin did at my sister’s house last week.  I did long for someone to have a plan and say, “leave it to me.”  And especially longed for someone to tell me after listening to an impassioned explanation about how something could not possibly work, “I get what you’re saying but I think you’re wrong so I’m going to do it my way.”  Instead of caving every time.

But as much as we are born with certain tendencies all of us need to keep ourselves in check.  Hound dogs need exercise just like Jack Russells to keep fit and healthy.  Just because they don’t feel like moving doesn’t mean they can get away with it without consequence.  And I know my fierceness gets in the way sometimes so I have to restrain myself and let things progress at a pace slower than I would like.

I am engaged.  We love each other.  We want to be together.  But there is a problem.  He doesn’t have a job in America.  I can’t get him a job.  So I have to be patient and trust that he is doing everything possible working toward that goal.

My little sweet dog I love so much is named Lucy.  She is a rat terrier and has much of the same qualities of a Jack Russell only a little sweeter disposition.  But she has a major problem with restraint.  When we feed her, we place the food in her dish and make her wait a few seconds before we say, “OK”.  She behaves beautifully in this scenario but when the front door is open there is nothing on this planet that will stop her from bolting.  It’s like she can’t help herself.  She just goes until she realizes she’s out in the middle of the street and does one of two things.  She either panics and plants herself on her back with her legs waving above her in the classic submissive position in the middle of the street.  Or she panics and keeps running.  We are so much like dogs aren’t we?

I can run amuck and aimlessly poke and prod my way through Martin’s problem trying to uncover every little piece of information possible in order to figure things out (for) with him.  Or I can allow myself to be in the submissive role and put my life in his hands.  Which is safer?  Which is wiser?  Running amuck could hurt and cause all kinds of damage.  Since I don’t know where I’m headed it does seem pretty pointless.  But being submissive goes against my instinct and nature.

Bottom line.  It’s not my job.  I am the passive observer here.  So I have to be willing to do what comes unnaturally at this point.  Prove to myself that I can.  Give my future husband love and support and encouragement but do not tell him what to do.  Be his cheerleader but not his coach.  I can do this.

Luckily Martin gets my built-in drive because he has it himself.  And it is much easier to sit back and watch someone you have tremendous confidence in as opposed to someone you don’t.  So I can do this.

But it’s been a tough week.  After all that ground he covered while in the US the calls between him and main players have dried up at the moment.  There is no movement, no developments that point to a silver lining at this point. There are a few balls in the air that are so high I can’t quite make them out so I have to wait.  I hate waiting.  I hate being powerless.  But I am in this particular situation.

I’m presently stuck in the middle of the crowd holding onto Martin’s hand and we’re walking along.  Sometimes I see little gaps open and I instantly want to dive in to get further along on our journey but if I did that we wouldn’t be walking beside each other anymore.  I’d be pulling him along.  And since I’m short I might be pulling him in the wrong direction.

So I pray often for God to give me peace in the midst of the slow-moving crowd.  Peace knowing he can see where we are heading even though we can’t.  Peace to be holding Martin’s hand and walking along side of him. 

“Take a deep breath.  Let it out.  You’ll get there.  Be patient.”

“Uh huh, like when You said I would make it out of the deep, black pit to laugh again?  You were right on that one.”

“Trust Me and let Me work in you to give you that nature that doesn’t come naturally to you.  Be willing.  That is all you have to do.”

“Ok but you have to remind me again tomorrow cause I’m gonna forget.”

“I will.”

But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

—Romans 8:25

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