A Coward Like Me
I’m a coward. Let me get that off my chest right now. I am a fearful man. Like most folks, I want you to think well of me. And I’m afraid of what you’ll think if you see the real me. Which is one of the reasons that this blog exists—to push myself past the fear, to encourage those who, like me, are afraid to be real. Despite this, I’m still a coward. Let me explain.
For most of my Christian walk, I thought it was my duty to preserve the peace at all costs. I did my level-headed best at this, and most times failed miserably—leaving hurt, angry parties all around me. As an example–for the better portion of the last twenty years–I let my dad be rude to my wife in myriad ways. I say “let” because I allowed it to continue (I don’t blame him). Instead of standing up for her, I acted out of the conviction, the sacred duty, that I must keep the peace. My precious bride, mother of my children, I failed her so miserably. And that is just one example.
All this came to a head on Father’s Day of 2009. My dad called to wish me a happy Father’s Day. He called on my wife’s line.
“Is Chad there?”
“Who’s calling, please?”
“Oh, hi. This is Lisa.”
“I know. Let me speak to Chad.”
She handed me the phone, tears welling in her eyes… And I choked. I had an opportunity to handle things then, and didn’t. As I reflected on it, it grew inside me… And I emailed him. Told him he wasn’t welcome to call until he took an etiquette class and at least be polite on the phone. But even in this, I took the coward’s way out: I used email. At the time, I told my wife that I was too angry to call, but I was probably too afraid. There was a tension inside me—contorting, twisting—that squelched my courage. I felt like a little boy. And what little boy can confront a grown man?
I did this again recently with a friendship that wasn’t growing as I hoped it would. While I think it right and proper that I did the pruning, I again used email to do it. Again, I shrank back from the discomfort of confrontation. If I had it to do over again, I would invite this friend to sit down with me so we could hash it out together (the outcome may well have been the same). But I don’t. And that is my encouragement to you: don’t shrink back from the uncomfortable situations in your life—press through them. For it is in them that we grow. Don’t be a coward like me.