When it wasn’t all Valentines and Love Letters: When Opposites Attract

Participating in a letter writing challenge at “the Run A Muck”…encouraging others about marriage. It ain’t easy. This week for the challenge I wanted you to  know, that we know,  how hard  marriage can be, that there is seasons. If you are in a dry one now? You just might come through the other side. And pop culture reference? Paula Abdul “Opposites Attract” single was the first music I ever bought with my own money. It was a bit of foreshadowing…


Dear Joel,

I know you think it is weird. That quirk I have of reading obituaries almost every day. It started when I worked palliative care and I wanted to see if my patients had died or not. Now I can’t stop.

It isn’t the only weird thing you know about me. You know the weird ambitions I have, the cliché’ ones.

I like how you call me out on my fears now. You say “tell me…what do you really think is going to happen here?” I pause, and that feeling in my gut diminishes, usually there isn’t much reason in it.

I love, how we know when the other is going to laugh at something. Those quirky things that drive us nuts. Like how you glance at me sideways when someone says ‘just sayin’ you think I might go for the jugular. I don’t, but often my claws do show. Sometimes, when I am out with others, I look at them, waiting to laugh at our jokes. They don’t get it. I miss you then.

It wasn’t always like this. There were those few years, right around our seven-year mark where I got burnt out. It wasn’t you exactly. It was life in general. I thought about heading for the hills. I wanted to hide from the world in a cabin in the woods. I told you I was running away from home, that you could come with me if you wanted, but make no mistake; I was going. It was all a little much.

It was mostly the babies lost. We grieved those miscarriages differently. You dug in deeper with the kids we had been given already; Those in the youth group. I got angry with them, perhaps I blamed them for the loss. I thought maybe you were right; that God was calling us to have those kids alone. I blamed you too.

But. You were patient with me, all the same. You waited while I turned back into myself. It took forever.

You and me? Next time the ‘big uglies’ of life face us? I think, I know, we will do it better. I will know you need different things and that doesn’t mean you are any less distraught. We are different. One of us is not better.

I’m so happy I waited to head for the hills with you. That together and today is so much better than all our yesterdays. We will forever tell those who follow us down this crazy marriage path: There will be a phase where marriage seems harder than it is worth. It is a lie. You will come out the other side with a complexity and understanding of each other that wasn’t there before. You will laugh again. You will dream again. Fight for it friends it just takes time for the team to come together as one. Time and trial and a whole lotta prayer and understanding.

Thanks for sticking around J-Fed. I wasn’t my favorite person those years either.

But you? You are the only one I would ever want on my team. The only one I would fight to keep.

Yours.

Meliss


Being Parents

Participating in a letter writing challenge at “the Run A Muck”…encouraging others about marriage in the stage of young children. It ain’t easy. This week the challenge is on the concept of ‘nightly routine’.

Dear Joel,

There is a whirl and sudden stop each night at our house. The children spin like tops from five until seven…tops with teeth and sharp nails. Tops that swirl right into our temples. You deal with it better. You let me hide in the kitchen and feign the need to make everything from scratch.

Sometimes its better, the children make a giant fort and invite the two of us inside. We make jokes that they can’t understand, steal a kiss, you try to remind me that I am not just someones mommy. I love hearing you tell stories to the boy, while I whisper with the girl. You talk about his day and I always learn something new. There is something about the way you listen that makes us all want to talk.

This night I am folding laundry and your gym socks are still red from the Kenyan soil. Again it reminds me how thankful I am for the life we are building together, for the ordinary and extraordinary moments that pull together to make up a life. It is amazing when you think about it isn’t it? We’ve been together nearly 20 years now, it seems absurd to say it. It can’t be possible. But then. There is this story we’ve got. I’m going to keep telling it till I die.

The nights you are out are different. The rhythm and goodness of this household rests squarely on your shoulders, it is always too much for me, but we get there eventually. Bedtime is my least favorite thing on earth. Ok. Perhaps I hate poverty and hunger more than bedtime…but not much. Still. I sure am thankful that you are my team as we try to capture the tops and turn them into bed. In fact? I’m glad you are on my team in everything we do. I’m so dreadfully thankful that all the ordinaries and extra-ordinaries have not spun us totally out of control, but instead have woven us deeper into One.

You are the best routine I ever fell into, the only one that ever stuck.

Yours.

Melissa

How to Keep Going the Same Direction

I’ve been wondering: How do you ensure you keep going the same direction when you feel like two ships passing in the night?

I’m back at work a little and the man and I? Well, we are playing a bit of tag team. So when we brush lips at the door (resist the urge to high five, tag each other into the parenting ring), how do we ensure that our courses don’t drift us miles a part?

We’ve found we need to remind each other where we are headed. Even if our ships tend to sail out in different waters: my boat leaving harbour only for calm waters, his heading out for the craziest, waviest seas. Knowing now what we didn’t twelve years ago, that our family, our ministry, could not function any other way.

OUR family.

OUR ministry.

We are two parts of one whole. Sometimes opposites, needing different paces to thrive, but always, ALWAYS, ONE.

So we toss our selves into Living Water, knowing that the undercurrents and tides will keep us together even when we sail at different times. Making efforts even at the end of long days at sea to lift each other up, to be the quiet whisper of encouragement, trusting one another with a future full of uncertainty and risk. Even more we trust Light of only truest beacon, to keep the hull from rocky bluffs. We remember to choose gratitude for the life you are building together, for the extraordinary we see in each other. We remember things that drew  one to the other, we make space for adventure together, for fun. We fumble over the mythology whispered in tired ears, of greener grass. We hold fast to Thankful, and we remind ourselves to trust that He that bound us into ONE has a plan.

634) Driving home, sky all purple, moon all full, road all drenched. Beauty.

635) Sharing it with the man, while the littles crack all kinds of hilarity in the back seat.

635) Fog. Lights. Beauty.

636) His love.

637) Relaxing with dear ones….so…so dear.

638) New music.

639) Ms. Hass

640) Vacation time. Reflecting on this thing we are building. This man. Most thankful for this Thanksgiving…

He Made Me Believe

“He made me believe in monogamy” she said “I didn’t really think it could be done before him”. Her eyes trailed down to the table, blinking fast. Her hand found its way to her twelve-year-old daughters shoulder, holding on for dear life.

My hands were wrapped only around my diet Pepsi, my mind spinning on what she said. My nineteen years didn’t give that statement all the feet it deserved. I was at the point in life where I thought,

“He is your husband. Of course he did”

Now having watched one too many marriages kiss themselves goodbye. Too many women pack up and run. I realize how profound her statement really was.

She was saying:

He is the only man she wanted to influence her children,

This, a man worth sacrificing for, a life worth fighting for.

The man she had just watched die…he was more than worth what she had given up to bring herself to this place

He had made her more of herself not less.

She was talking about something that was way bigger than sex,

I think now though, it may have been the sexiest thing I’ve ever heard anyone say.

Happy Anniversary husband…thanks for making me believe.  Twelve years and every day you’ve made my life sweeter…

Dull Ache

I’ve got this dull ache in my chest for your marriage. Mine too. I want them to be GOOD. I want your marriage to be your safe harbour. I want you to trust it. I want you both to find freedom in each other, not bondage. I want your face to light up in the presence of the other. I want you to co-create the safest place on earth for your children. I want you to believe in it and in each other. I want you truly believe that your spouse is the best person you know. I want you to believe that there is not, and never was, a better person for you than the one you lay down beside at night. I want you to be happy, I want you to be fulfilled. I want you to be your best self in your marriage and I want you to help bring that out in the other.

I’ve got a dull ache in my chest for marriage in general these days. It is worth fighting for friends…

Your Love Story Is Still Being Written

I saw him at Coopers. This little old man had shrunk three sizes since I saw him last; that day we had sat, fingers entwined,  and watched his wife breathe last. I had fallen in love with her too. I was a brand new nurse and my grandmother was two years dead already and this woman spoke just like her in practical and gentle ways. Each shift I would take my lunch in and eat with her, I just couldn’t stay away.

This day at the grocery store, he crumpled the moment he saw me. Curled into my arms and wept. We found a deli table and sat and he sipped coffee and ate crumbly cookie that stuck to his quivering lips as he tried to tell the whole story. Love story from beginning to end…

“She was the only woman I have ever loved. She was the best person to have ever walked earth”. His eyes were all full of truth and I knew he believed every word. I had only worked in palliative care for four months but I had seen full eyes before; eyes full of pain, full of regret, full of relief. Here though, was the first time I saw eyes full of love with no hint of any other emotion.  He had loved her every day.

My twenty-two year old mind shifted that day. All the romantic ideals and fairy tales died on the deli table. The truth of what love is and how to live the best of stories was clearly evident in this mans eyes. All that Hollywood tells us about being true to yourself, about fleeing when things get tough, about ‘friends with benefits’ none of it could hold a candle to the romance in this mans eyes.

At age 21 their story could’ve ended with ‘they lived happily ever after’. That is what we would all like to believe, the truth though is that the story was just starting. The bravest and truest tales were yet to be penned, the showing up for each other on the hardest days, the honouring each other in all circumstances, the fortitude it takes to stand side by side when so many are giving up, the warfare on monogamy and the games it plays on hearts. Once we know the outcomes of each of these chapters, once we see if the ‘happily ever’ stands, then we know if this is an epic love story. The kind of love future generations can hang their hope on.

Today my friend, your love story is still being written. Maybe you’re like me and you’ve let the story write itself for too long. Maybe your heroine has not invested what she should. Maybe she got lazy and distracted by babies and work and home and one thousand excuses. Maybe, she needs to pick up the pen and start writing deliberately. The best part of the story, may very well be yet to come. The ending I want, is my husband big brown eyes wet with love, teaching a young nurse someday, what ‘happily ever after’ really means, how he loved me every day.

and

The Beast of Marriage

July 3, 1999

I don’t know much about this beast of marriage. How it writhes and moans under the thumb of submission. How man is to give life as Christ loved the church, the bride, sacrificial and generous, a bowed reed. How woman is to submit to this gentleness, this other focussed love. How she is to sacrifice and pin that beast down.

It’s a constant struggle. Just when I think I’ve got it immobilized and bound, she raises her ugly head. She is strong this marriage beast and she will eat you alive if you leave her unattended.

In this last decade we have learned what stirs her up, what makes the hair on her back bristle, what environments and situations make her foam at the mouth. We learn, but we are forgetful and sometimes she bites us just to remind us that she needs to be tended to. That she will not be domesticated easily.

This beast loves undivided attention. getting taken on adventures, being held in embrace. These things soothe her, make her more manageable. She is always unpredictable though and sometimes even with the very best care, she gets restless, and she chews the bones clean of flesh.

There is only One who can tame her. Only One who can make her heel. Somehow as He tames the beasts within husband and I, this marriage lays quietly between us and keeps our feet warm at night. This is the mystery of two becoming one…

Linking with up a few places today…Everyone is talking about LOVE.

Thanks Ann and Emily for providing e-community that I am learning to really love…