But, but, I’m not YOU!

March 13, 2008

Paradigm. We all have a paradigm unique to our own life, life experience and world view. Paradigm simply means โ€œa collection of assumptions, concepts, practices and values that constitutes a way of viewing reality”. On Monday I bounced out of bed and loudly announced to my husband that we were going to do X, Y, Z thing before leaving to do our errands. Yeah, I know exactly when the fight started.

Two hours later I am still puttering around the house desperately trying to put my ducks in a row. He’s steaming at the ears and we are in what the in-laws call “lively fellowship”. Since we are both fairly competent communicators, our arguments rarely fall into name calling, etc. but the verbiage we can expend on simple misunderstandings?


As we argued fellowshipped our way through a minefield of issues my wonderful husband came to an astonishing conclusion.

“You feel out of control and you want to control everything around you!”

Well, ow! That hurt! So I shot back with some acerbic and vitriolic “tough love” of my own.

Half an hour later… A blinding flash moment. Illumination. Insight.

I don’t want control, I want order. When life is messy, I need order. I don’t really care about control. I don’t care who organizes the closet, cleans the bathroom or re-arranges the art glass ball collection on top of the piano. I just need the clutter to go away.

I am extremely visual. Extremely. Too much info in my visual space and I short-circuit especially if my mental and emotional space is full and all used up. Lately? Itโ€™s all being used.

Summoning the strength of insight and using my sense of new found self-awareness, I told him, “I’m not you! I don’t need control!”

Yeah, that didn’t go so well either.

Then we discussed other dynamics. Circumstances in his childhood and grown-up life involving quite a bit of personal experience with dominating, manipulative women make it far easier for him to default to “controlling woman” than anywhere else. Thirty years in SoCal will also educate a person. It’s easy, in that environment to believe there are far more of that type of woman than there are women who aren’t and you just never know… Even if you are wrong.

I come from a line of passive aggressive women. “We’re sitting on the outside and standing on the inside.” Aggressive and controlling doesn’t match my paradigm.
But back to my point…

His paradigm. His world view painted me into a corner where I didn’t fit. Round peg, square hole. Doesn’t work.

Caveat: Can an obsessive need for order be destructive? Of course. I’m not giving excuses for my behavior. I’m working on it. Really. In an orderly and logical fashion.

As our tempers abated, the redness in our faces subsided and after we kissed and made up, we began to talk about how viewing people through your own lens can be unwise.

Do you have a particular weakness? Perhaps you aren’t always best friends with the truth. Don’t assume everyone else is lying to you. They aren’t you.

Do you struggle with lust? Don’t assume every affectionate person is trying to seduce you. They aren’t you.

Do you have an end game for every relationship, interaction and endeavor? Don’t assume everyone else is playing you too. They aren’t you.

G-d’s creativity is infinite and the different packages He put us into creates an astounding list of possibilities. Assuming you, with in the finite limitations of your own perspective, are the final authority and final opinion on the hearts and actions of your sphere of acquaintance and influence is both arrogant and misguided. As well as destructive.

We aren’t G-d. We can’t know the hearts of others. The Word tells us that G-d alone judges the hearts of men. We can’t even know the depths of our own hearts, although we will know better than most. All we can know of others, truly know, is their deeds. “By their obedience” and “By their love”. Adherence to the ways of G-d, a desire to know Him and reflect Him to others. Not counting the personal cost. Love. The demonstrated care, concern and passion we ought to have for one another. Or the absence thereof.

I’m not you. I won’t reply to life the way you do, I won’t see your point in the same manner you do. I won’t react to danger, joy or fear the way you do.

And you will never see life through my eyes.

This is where dialog and objective interaction become vital to the growth and maturity of any person. Had I not listened to my husbands concerns and tried desperately to weigh them against what I knew of my own heart I wouldn’t have been able to discern the difference between control and order. I don’t have to be in charge of it, I just want things to be done. In the proper way, proper time, etc.

And that led us into one of those deep husband/wife conversations about life and perspective and hope and change which will quite possibly take the next three years to muddle through!

So, the next time you are tempted to paint someone into a box they don’t really fit into? Remember. You are the only one who sees life the way you do. Pray for wisdom, insight and discernment. Who knows, you might learn something. Or grow.

If you choose to keep your perspective as the final authority? If you don’t try to see people as they are? Try to see them as G-d does? There’s no telling what you stand to lose.

  • I donโ€™t want control, I want order.

    One and the same thing. Really.

  • No, not really. By order I mean as in the opposite of chaos. By control I imply needing to hold the reins on everything.

    Which I don’t. Need to hold the reins that is.

  • Anonymous

    I like to be on the receiving end – being held onto – with reins, if need be ๐Ÿ˜‰

    WW ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • karin

    “In the proper way and in the proper time, etc.”

    Who decides what is the proper way and when is the proper time? Just wondering. For me it’s been ‘my way and my time’ that I’ve had to give up and allow others to contribute in their way and their time. I’d love it if people cooperated and did things my way, but they don’t and won’t and I’ve had to learn to give it up. It’s been a maturing experience.

  • Serena

    I’m not feeling well this morning so am taking a bit of a break. I overdid it getting two rooms in “order” yesterday. I never got the bedroom my two youngest share settled before life hit with a vengeance last summer and over the process of time it had followed the 2nd law of thermodynamics very well until I had nicknamed it “the abyss.” Well, “the abyss” has been conquered, but today my back is telling me I did too much yesterday. Now I have to work at getting those two urchins to keep it looking reasonably like I have it right now. I even labeled drawers with pictures and words so they know where things are supposed to be. Since it is going on a year since we “lost it” in keeping their room in a semblance of order, it will probably be a struggle to regain the ground lost.

    I really enjoyed this piece you wrote. My husband is like you and we have had some conflicts over the state of disorder in places like my young children’s room and our closet. I conquered the closet a couple of weeks ago and now the children’s room and their older brother’s room, too, since they stayed in there for the last several days while I was working on theirs. He was in Florida so I needed to get his done before he returned yesterday so it didn’t look like the beginnings of another abyss. I almost succeeded before he got home and then finished it after he went to visit his buddies next door.

    Now I have the goal of completing the rest of my abode before Passover in just over 3 weeks. That is 2 bathrooms and our bedroom, livingroom and kitchen/dining area. I think that is doable other than adding in to mix that I need to get a garden going and am starting from scratch in having to make a garden bed and all. Oh well, life is full!

    Love and shalom,