Last week was a long walk uphill.
It was pausing to catch my breath under the heat of a summer sun and another heartache, only to be prodded farther along, breathless and weary. But at the top of that hill, there was shade. Reconciliation. And I breathed in deep gulps of grace.
As some of you know, marriage is the hardest best thing in my life. The daily death to self, the repetitious act of choosing love and forsaking resentment, the push-pull of monotonous decisions about finances and everything boring…I’m just not very good at all of that.
Last week I reached the end of me; that small space that feels hollow and alone. I wept. I prayed. My thumbs feverishly typed out a lengthy email to our dear pastor at 3:30a.m. that essentially boiled down to an SOS. I let a few precious humans into that hollow. Poured out my heart. Asked for prayers. I texted my mother-in-law on repeat, hoping she could shed maternal light on the mysteries I have yet to unlock about her second born. I sat at the throne of my Father, waiting on His peace to overflow, crying out, “My marriage sucks right now. Where are You??” SOS.
And that shady spot at the top of the hill? There I found the things I already knew. The daily death to self. The choosing love. Isn’t that what marriage is all about? To love and love and love? Even when he makes me silently and ferociously implode. Because don’t I do the same to him? We are just two fallen beings sharing the same path, holding hands and bearing one another’s burdens. Except for when we don’t. And then we’re just sharing a path, trying to resist the temptation to shove the other into the meadow that borders our path. 😉
This morning, I opened my Bible up to a passage that I had highlighted and wrapped in a square of ink, with words underlined in black, then again in blue. It was so obnoxious that my eyes stopped there, caught in the trap of past convictions. For such a time as this. And it laid me bare all over again.
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another, and if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other, as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And. Be. THANKFUL.” Colossians 3:12-15
If I clothe myself with bitterness and anger, I cannot love. That is all.
As one who longs for marriages to thrive, (including my own), may I remind us of some marriage savers?
~ I can choose love. Over and over.
~ Pray. By myself. With him. Over and over.
~ Let others into the hollow. Unless they feed my bitterness…then they are better left outside until a safer time.
~ Practice the art of baby-making. Often. And then more often, still.
~ Ask for help and advice from those who have walked this road with authenticity and vulnerability.
~ Once daily, view your mate with eyes that see all of his GOOD- all of the things you fell in love with, and then tell him you love those things.
I am obviously writing this to myself more than to anyone else. But here’s the beauty of community: I can take my messes and expose them gently (with discernment) and you can do the same, and somewhere in that middle ground our messes will overlap and we’ll receive encouragement and solidarity- a recipe to keep on the trail, even when it’s a long and often grueling walk uphill.
peace & joy to you, friends.