We had one of those fights yesterday that was based on an old theme in our marriage. It sent us down a well-worn path, the soft, grassy buffer of newlywed naivete had long worn away from it. It’s a path that’s we’ve trudged many times before, choking on kicked-up dust or getting entrenched in the deeper muck when it rains. Ruts have been worn and on darker days one or another of us might get hurt tripping and falling into one. Exhausted by the end of it, sometimes it doesn’t feel worth the effort to clean up again all the way before we get on to the next thing. We think we’ve washed clean enough, forgiven enough, but the time is too short before we’ll put on those dirty, wet walking sneakers again and blisters result. And then we’re rubbing against raw on our next trek.
This thing is not something that is about a difference of opinion and I don’t even know that it’s totally about a particular sin either (though it certainly is true that without sin we wouldn’t feel this disunity). We’re coming up against a fundamental difference in who we are and how we see the world. Talking about it doesn’t seem to help and ignoring it doesn’t seem to help either. I’ve prayed about it (a lot) and we still don’t seem to be able to find unity. SO, where does that leave us?
I’ll tell you where it left me at about 4am this morning when I woke up after something fell off our bed to clatter loudly on the floor: feeling hopeless. Wondering if he’ll ever really get me. Agonizing over how to live a life of one flesh with a person when it feels like the only way to fit together is to kill off some part of me. But maybe then without that gangling part of Me, could we at least be a more neatly fitted We?
I try it sometimes, just kind of a light neglect, not exactly starving that part that doesn’t seem to fit but maybe putting it on a rigorous diet. It doesn’t work. Instead the opposite seems to happen. The more I ignore it, the more it demands to be seen. It takes on a life of its own over there in the periphery to which I’ve relegated it. Flashing all sorts of colors and morphing into shapes and dimensions unexpected, it’s impossible to kill it. It’s so alive. It’s even kind of winsome, doing its own charming thing in the corner. Like a toddler in a time out after I’d forgotten I’d put it there too long, it starts singing some beautiful song to itself and I just want to join it. It’s no use. It’s just an inextricable part of who I am.
So what now? Does this mean I chose the wrong life or that God dealt me a harder hand? I honestly don’t know. Theology is tricky like that. But I know that the more married women I connect with, the more I realize that this kind of marital imperfect-fittedness is not rare. In fact, I think it may be the norm. There always seems to be something that husbands and wives don’t get about each other, even in the best of marriages. And we learn to live with them, hopefully appreciate the differences even, because we’re committed and because we chose love and we continue to choose love every. single. day.
But what about that pain? What about wondering if we’ll ever be understood, appreciated, “gotten?” What about the deep and fulfilling intimacy that we think marriage should be?
The answer was made undeniably clear to me this morning. It’s nothing new, but it’s the kind of bread I need to eat daily in order to be sustained by it. I subscribe to a service called Go Tandem. It’s awesome and it makes it really hard to ignore Truth in the midst of my busy life. It sends me mini, individualized devotionals throughout the day. I get texts and emails and voice messages and calls at times I’ve chosen. It’s just the right amount of intrusive. (And free. Sign up now, I know you’ll love it).
Anyway, usually I get one automated call in the morning around the time I get out of bed. And then if I don’t answer, it sends me the same message via email. Well today, I got this same call THREE times in a row. And then I ALSO got the same email THREE times. Now that’s just weird. Actually, it’s just God. The message was clear and the Messenger was beautifully and faithfully relentless in His pursuit of me, like the most devoted of suitors. I could barely hang up the phone before the call came through to me again. And then appeared in my email. Again. Ok, that may seem a bit stalkerish. But sometimes I need that because I’m dense when it comes to feeling loved.
I pasted it below, but basically it was a reminder that my husband isn’t meant to totally get me. He’s not meant to fulfill me. He’s not meant to complete me. If he could, I might be too easily satisfied and neglect to go after the real prize: a profoundly deep, intimate, fulfilling relationship with God.
You Can’t Complete Me
Hear from God
|Listen to today’s CallIt’s so easy to look to other people to satisfy our needs. Let’s be honest, they’re here, human, tangible. But don’t fall for that junk! Jeremiah explains that only God can truly meet our needs–and he will!
This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans,
who rely on human strength
and turn their hearts away from the Lord.
They are like stunted shrubs in the desert,
with no hope for the future.
They will live in the barren wilderness,
in an uninhabited salty land.
“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
and they never stop producing fruit.”
Satisfaction only comes from God.