Maybe someday we’ll get better at hearing the rumblings beneath the surface. Maybe someday these explosions won’t be so devastating to the both of us. The little comments that burn, the lack of eye contact or physical touch, the forgetting to be kind and aware of one another, the unspoken (and thus unmet) expectations, it all adds up…
To these recurring moments.
At least once every couple of weeks it feels like we hate each other. We part our ways for hours, sometimes we don’t talk through it until the next day.
I have the urge to run far away. Or jump in my car. But how could I? With four children still needing my attention, a corner in my house is the best I can do. So, I take it.
I spew out my tumultuous insides. It feels good to blow snot into tissue. It’s healing to be alone with my rampant thoughts.
For the next 20 minutes, sometimes more depending on the degree of the fight, I plan my escape route.
First, I’m going to quit writing. (That’s always first.) Then I go down the list. Until, I’ve eliminated EVERYTHING good and beautiful in my life.
All the gifts in my life I shove back into God’s hands. Nope, they’re not for me. I’m not worthy.
All my passions. Can’t keep those around anymore either. There’s enough work to do in my relationships to keep me busy for the rest of my life.
All those dreams stored away. Yea, don’t want those either. I can barely keep my marriage afloat.
After I punish myself for being an awful wife and yelling at my husband in front of my children. I make a pact to never do anything again except try to love the people in my own home better. But even then, it’s a thin promise I know I’ll break.
Covered in bruises, from my own doing, I hardly recognize who I am anymore. I look in the mirror to see my mascara has given me a black eye. Fights with my husband hit me hard.
Although the path is predictable, the identity crisis is a given, where I come out is always a surprise.
God pries his way into my gnarly heart. Like a parent playing hide and seek with their child, He pretends like he can’t find me for a while.
He lets me do my thing.
Then He comes in quietly without me ever realizing it and starts to whisper soft truths that land discreetly on my heart.
I still love you.
I think you are amazing and beautiful.
Don’t give up on those dreams.
Everyone fights with their spouse.
You are not alone.
Don’t give up.
I pluck His words up like wildflowers in late summer. They are a delight. They call me out of hiding.
Then, I see the pictures. He plants images in my mind of how He sees me, what could be if I keep traveling with Him. I see myself, a woman healed and broken, confident and needy, in love but still arguing with her husband. She is growing. She is aching. She is everything all mixed together and that’s okay.
I know I must forgive the girl in the mirror. I put her on a pedestal too often. She will never measure up.
Choosing to love ourselves in our ugliest moments takes practice.
Through this maddening cycle of fights and tears and forgiveness, I grow strong, we grow strong. The repetition is sacred. It’s building our ability to withstand the tumultuous waves of life, the craziness of our own souls.
Still shaky, fresh from the storm, yet He gently places the gifts, the dreams, the passions back in my hands. His grace astounds me.
I walk back downstairs ready to extend hugs and apologies. How could I not?
Over the next days and weeks, I take time to survey the land. I’m agitated. Why does the terrain marriage still look the same as it did 9 years ago? Sure, we might know the value of a few extra date nights or being intentional with our communication, we understand the power of forgiveness, but the familiar cycle of hurt hasn’t stopped.
I look closer. There are some hints of transformation. Our love is deepening in every direction, like roots on a tree, it’s difficult to pinpoint its course.
I listen too. I’m slowly learning to hear the rumblings beneath the surface of our marriage. They are slight and subtle. Rather than warnings of impending devastation like I once assumed, they are the sounds of renewal, redemption rising up from the rubble.
I’m choosing to welcome this familiar cycle in our marriage, letting it run its course instead of planning my escape, because with each go ’round God reveals His faithfulness in new ways.
If you’re married…do you go through similar cycles of fighting and forgiveness? Does it make you weary? How do you stay hopeful and life-giving?
Even in our personal lives I think we all have areas where growth seems invisible and we wonder if His grace will ever run out…what are those places for you?
Reflect on His faithfulness. Where there is devastation in your life, be aggressive in uncovering the hope even there.