We ended the year in each other’s arms… and that is no small thing.
My husband and I fight. I know, I know… all you good people out there don’t fight. I’m sure we’re not supposed to fight and truly we have some room to grow in that department. Well, maybe a lot of room. But here’s the deal- we’re still here.
I was talking to a newly wed this week and I found it strange that when I look back on my marriage I couldn’t remember the seasons in days, weeks, or even months. I recounted years. There were some years that were harder than others. Years we grew. Years we rested. And years God decided that the hidden pile of flesh had sat rotting in the heart-closet long enough. Those years were… stinkier than others.
This year as we watched the timer click down it was just us. The children were all in bed and we had abstained from the parties. As we said Happy New Year an unexpected feeling of relief came over me. I looked up at him “We made it. This year was really hard but we made it though.” I might have teared up at that point.
Life takes grit. Love takes grit. It so easy to lose faith. To start believing the worst. And the deck is stacked against us. The human heart is prone to the path of least resistance. The culture is prone to whatever feels good in the moment. And then there’s this enemy…
I don’t like to talk about that ol’ Devil fellow because… well it sounds hokey. Also it’s too easy to have a scapegoat for our bad habits. But I can’t get around it. There is a voice that sings… it’s like a melancholy jingle that gets stuck in the head and it’s always repeating a version of the same lies. You are not good enough. They don’t care. This will never change. And that voice is threatened by unity. It’s threatened by commitment. It’s weakened when we stand together. So it sows its lie seeds.
Fear. Despair. Doubt.
Ironically, it seems like the more afraid I am of a reality the more my actions lend to it. I’m afraid my husband doesn’t love me and so I act in a way that makes it hard to love me. I’m afraid he doesn’t understand and I end up creating conflict that is full of misunderstanding. Emotions like fear are very isolating and they have a way of making us act in ways that keep us separated from others in mind and body. Especially those closest to us.
But love. Well love is the trump card. And with God we’ve always got one really big Ace up our sleeve. True love trumps fear, and shame, and despair. It disarms the lie in our heart so we can deal with the conflict in good faith and gentleness. We suddenly find (and perhaps it is the smallest of all windows) a window of opportunity. A chance to serve, to encourage, to listen, where previously we could only feel the need to be served, encouraged and heard.
Truth be told. I have a really good husband. But he can’t be good enough to deserve my love all the time . There are times that we are both undeserving of love. And those are the times that we need to be loved the most. But when my account is empty and your account is empty whose going to come up with the down payment. We call it starting the love cycle.
It’s the miracle of the cross. Unlimited access to the most needed, precious commodity in all of existence. Love. Free love to take whenever we need it. There is always grace to start the love cycle.
Woo! But wanting to… oh man. That’s the other hurdle. It’s much easier to hang on to our right to be hurt. Most wounds in marriage are valid. And it’s hard to lay that down. I’m moderately obsessed with being right. I mean it’s seriously unhealthy. So letting go of and moving on to hearing out someone else’s reality so we can work through it (Oy! Jesus sure knows how to pick ’em, let me tell you). I’m really not so good at that.
But some things are worth it. Family is worth it.
This year had some real ugly spots. I had some real ugly spots (probably still do). Ugly spots show up in marriage. It’s just how it is. But there’s grace. There’s grace to get help. There’s grace to grab hold. There’s grace to not give up.
I really hope this next year is easier than the last one. I’ve got no guarantees. But I have yet one more season in the bag. One more example of how God brought me through. “We made it!” And you best be believing that if there are giants to face up ahead, this year will be one stone that I hurl at it with all my might.
God bless you all. May you find (re-find) Him in all His glory this year.