As I sit here right now, unable to sleep with my mind running in circles about the events that unfolded earlier tonight, a thought has come to me that I would like to share.  So, for a little background about me.  I grew up in a very volatile household with much uncertainty as a child.  A daily screaming match between my parents about some miniscule thing that didn’t really matter, left everyone walking on eggshells.  With alcohol in the mix, the screaming matches often led to more extreme verbal abuse and ultimately physical abuse.  It didn’t matter what or who was in the path.  I can remember begging my older sister to call 911 but at the same time feeling so much shame, because I wasn’t brave enough to do it myself.  As I got older, I verbally fought back.  Making sure that my voice was heard regardless of the consequences.  All to not be controlled by the man standing in front of me as well as from the fear of not doing or saying what was right.  I say all these things, not as an excuse, but to put things in perspective a bit.

So, I can’t sleep tonight, and I keep replaying the recent debate in my head.  And the thought that comes to me is, “It is a ‘Riggins’ thing.”  So, I am sure if you know us at all or have read many of the blogs that we send out, you can tell that “Tribe” is very important to us.  I use the word “Tribe” and not family, because we aren’t all blood relatives, but we are a cohesive group working for the same goals and trying to function in this crazy world all together.  So being in this tribe makes you what I am going to call a “Riggins.”  Even though many of us come from very different backgrounds, we all work together to fulfill God’s purpose in each other’s lives; however, as a group we have some pretty definite nuances that make up what we call a “Riggins.”  For example, if we didn’t love you, we wouldn’t make fun of you; if you are a Riggins, you have to have the last word; or a spirited debate is just entertainment.  This last one is the one that has me up tonight.

So, in true Riggins’ fashion, Pa and the guys are debating the validity of some things they heard in the news.  As I listen, my thoughts are pretty much, “What do I really care about this?”  It doesn’t really affect me, I can’t do anything about it, and it isn’t really going to change what I do.  Of course, I don’t say all that out loud, but I am sure that my body language gives away exactly what I am thinking.  The “discussion” continues on.  Yet in my opinion, it becomes more conflict than open discussion.  Voices are raised, tension is apparent, and each side of the argument appears to me to be saying the other person is wrong at which point means that no one can be right.  So what is the point?  What do I do in my now uncomfortable state?  We seem to be going nowhere, so I chime in.  And in return I get the same argumentative feedback.  So instinctively, I respond as best as I can, which is not very well at all: argumentative right back.  Now I can’t remember my point, and nothing makes any sense anyway.  I just want to run away and crawl into a hole.

So here I am now replaying every bit back in my mind.  Why does it turn to that?  What did I do wrong?  How do I never feel that way again?  I will say for sure it is a Riggins’ thing to have a well-spirited debate, but I definitely wasn’t raised in the Riggins’ house.  In my house, what would start as a debate, ended in a fight.  Those same emotions flooded me now, and I responded out of fear. . . just as I did as a child.  Even though I have now been a Riggins longer than not, and my experiences tell me this is how the Riggins argue AND some of them even find it somewhat entertaining, I can’t seem to shake the old feelings of fear and doubt that I learned as a child.  I’m shaking, my heart is racing, and my eyes are filled with tears.  Now what?

The first thing is pray.  Which is probably what I should have done before I opened my mouth.  Ask God to bring clarity to the situation and understanding.  Next, I had to be open to what was being said. Eventually a point was made that made sense to me and then another, and then another.  Understanding that a debate helps solidify my own thoughts and beliefs is important and helps me put even current events in God’s perspective.  Remember, it is only a discussion.  And finally, realizing that I am a new creation in Christ just as it says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature:  old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”  I don’t have to rely on the old man that was fearful and out of God’s control.  I am now a new creation.  I don’t get my value from this debate or my lack of debating but rather from Christ Jesus.  Therefore, there is no right or wrong, only opinion and bias.  Which says nothing about me as a child of God.

I still don’t like the debate.  I don’t feel like I can effectively communicate what I am thinking sometimes.  I often respond emotionally and that isn’t good for anyone.  But I am thankful that I can pick myself up, dust off, and keep moving forward.  But I can only do that in Christ.  Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”  We are all flesh, but through Christ, we have the Holy Spirit to help us overcome fleshly desires and instincts.  Fight and flight are natural responses, but with Christ, I can overcome them and respond in a way that helps me grow closer to Him.

As I jokingly described in the beginning what being a “Riggins” is, I am aware that it is so much more.  As a tribe that is focused on God’s purpose and plan for us, it means we love each other unconditionally, hold each other accountable, and never give up on each other.  We make each other better and stronger because of the love we have together in Christ Jesus.  The scripture God gave me tonight was from 2 Samuel 22:2-3.  These are the words that David spoke after he was delivered out of the hand of Saul and his enemies.   “The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliver; the God of my rock; in him will I trust:  He is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, My saviour; thou savest me from violence.”  These words remind me that He is my peace, my protector, and my shield.  He is what gets me through every day, He is what has gotten me through my past, and He is what will get me through my future.

— Written by Alisa