Women: Can We Be Conscious of Unconscious Mistakes? (Part 1)

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Many wives and mothers have written to me saying, "I had no idea how disrespectful I was to my husband and son. Once I learned that I communicate with “a look” of contempt and with a tone of disgust when I am tired, upset, hurt, frustrated and angry, it made sense to me why my they pulled away from me.”

“Unlike my daughter, who identified with my female emotions, the men in my life did not.

“I learned that the men withdrew emotionally because they sat there stunned, feeling like I despised who they were as human beings. Of course, I did not despise them. I was only venting, but even so, no one talked to them the way I talked to them. They naturally interpreted me as not respecting them as people.

“As men who filter their world through the respect grid, I was not conscious of crossing the line. Because I felt love in my heart for my men, I did not see what they saw.  In hindsight, I see it now.

“I guess I assumed they would understand that my ‘disrespect’ was a marginal issue to me. The issue to me is that I cared about them and wanted them to do what needed to be done. They needed to be more loving and sensitive. My look of contempt was to motivate them to be better. However, I was blind to the overkill this seemed to them.

“Because I did not intend to offend them, but rather to help them, I did not see my conduct as offensive. I subconsciously gave myself a pass on my looks and tones since I loved them.”

Job 34:32 states, "Teach me what I do not see; if I have done iniquity, I will not do it again." Though Job's friend, Elihu, later receives God's rebuke for misjudging Job, what he utters here echoes Scripture elsewhere.

The Psalmist pens, "Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults" (Psalm 19:12). He sings elsewhere, "Make me know Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me" (25:4,5).

We also read, "Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (139:23,24).

Each verse captures the idea that we make mistakes unconsciously.

The Apostle Paul wrote, "For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord" (1 Corinthians 4:4).  In other words, Paul recognized that there are "hidden faults" that we "do not see." There are moments when a person does not "discern his errors." There can be an "offensive way" in us that escapes our notice.

A wife does not intend to show disrespect to her husband and sons, but she does.

Hear me in this, no woman will ever respect perfectly. Practice only makes perfect in restricted ways, like practicing Beethoven's Sonata No. 29 Op.106 in B flat major until playing without error.

Practice does not make perfect in mothering or marriage. It really comes down to decreasing her imperfections. For example, being less disrespectful toward her men.

For this reason, here's an action item that might sound odd: be conscious of what you are not conscious of. Ask God to teach you what you do not see about your disrespectful demeanor. Ask Him to reveal "any offensive way" toward your husband and son.

Yes, I agree that your husband and son do not always deserve respect, but neither do they deserve disrespect.

No human being responds to contempt with fond feelings of affection.

God calls all of us to respectfully confront the un-respectable. Sadly, the default for many women when they find themselves fatigued and frustrated is to show disrespect.

Do you see this about you?

Ask God to show you and then believe that you can carry the truth with a respectful look and tone. You will not lose power, but gain influence over time. However, you must discern your unconscious mistakes. You must learn to be conscious of what you are not conscious of.

-Dr. E