We celebrated 28 years of marriage this last weekend. And by celebrated I mean we went to church with our son, out to dinner (Chinese buffet because we are fancy) with our pastor and his family and another couple we recently met, then walked around Target picking up some toilet paper and hair color. Then we took a nap and rounded out the day with the second viewing of The Greatest Showman from our amazon prime account so we could get our money's worth on that rental.
I know what you're thinking - we really know how to celebrate big. Don't be jealous of the romance.
The truth is, with Ben's recent graduation from Moody Seminary in Chicago and the road trip out there, a Sunday nap on a rainy day sounded like a perfectly romantic anniversary celebration.
Anniversaries always get me to thinking. And as the years rack up, I wonder how we made it but other couples don't. On this end, the years seemed to have passed quickly. One could even daydream that it's been a pretty easy go of it. But again, anything worthwhile takes work. I might even go so far as suggesting the harder the work, the better the end product.
As I consider our years together, the most challenging were in the not too distant past. I like to refer to it as the darkness, the wilderness, the winter, the storm. They all fit.
We had been beaten up. Chewed up and spit out. By a church no less. For the following three years money was tight and stress was high. Scott was unemployed or underemployed. For three years, people. Translation - he was always at home. He was home more than he wanted to be and I was strangling in what I like to call 'unnatural togetherness'.
Don't get me wrong - I still loved him madly - but his presence in the house (my office) all.day.long. every.day. was a constant reminder that our situation wasn't changing. Is anyone else getting sweaty or is it just the memory recollection?
I'd like to report what a champ I was, welcoming, warm, hospitable to my innocent husband. Sometimes it was more like this.
"It's not that I don't want you here, honey. You are welcome always, just not Monday through Friday, 8-5."
"How about you go to Starbucks to study and send resumes and look for a job for a while? You know - change of scenery might do you good!"
I could feel my heart chilling. I was pulling away a little, justified in needing my own space.
I wish I was kidding.
Worse thoughts were often on the tip of my tongue but I managed to swallow them before they escaped and did damage.
Daily I prayed my usual prayers for God to rescue us and give us purpose again. Begging. I received mostly silence.
On a particularly difficult day I really wanted to lash out and blame Scott. I sensed God was aware and issuing a warning to me. An image came to my mind of my bare toes peering over the slippery edge of a very deep, dark hole in the ground. I was looking down in there.
"Take a look. Many a foolish woman has stood in this very spot. Do you want to go down there where good marriages end up when a selfish young wife doesn't get everything her way?
It's your choice."
Me: "I still love him. I just can't take this any more."
I began to list my justifiable complaints.
"When this season is over, what will your kids remember about how you treated their father in his worst days, his lowest low?"
"Who is going to be this man's champion....for better or worse?"
Why so harsh, Lord?
"Will Scott be able to say when it's all over that "my wife was right by my side all the way"?
Well, when you put it that way.
Have you ever noticed that certain verses you are familiar with, just happen to come to mind when you least expect?
1. When tempted to say something potentially hurtful, I would fast forward about five minutes and imagine how it was going to land on my target (in this case, my husband). How will he hear it? Will it change the harmony in our relationship or atmosphere of our home in a negative way? How will it affect the rest of the family? How long will the resulting tension and disharmony last? Consequently, is it really worth 'getting it off my chest'?
This next question I formed during our years of church ministry when fellow parishioners would say hurtful, discouraging, even hateful things to Scott.
2. Do I have the Holy Spirit's permission to say these things at this time to a person created in the image of God (which, of course, is everyone)?
Now God turned it back to me. Did I have His permission to unload the ugly? No, I don't believe I do.
I guess I did have a decision to make.
With the verses above in hand, my marriage vows dusted off and perched where I could see them, I repented. I changed direction.
After I had a little talk with Jesus, I had a little talk with myself.
My chest puffed with resolve. I can do this. I want to be my man's champion. I don't want to kick him when he's down. I want to be a mom my kids can be proud of. More than those, I don't want to be a foolish woman. I refuse to damage or tear my marriage apart because my perceived needs weren't being met by my husband because, in reality, only God promises to accomplish that feat. I want to be Spirit-filled and led. I'm going the way He goes.