People in church would say when sumpthin’ keeps coming to you and you keep thinking on it or resonating with it, it’s some sorta “spiritual heartburn.” Your spirit is working to sort something out or even prompting you to talk to someone and share your thoughts. People outside of church might say it’s just where I am in the journey of life.
In my opinion, I guess this may be more of a prompting by the Spirit because, I don’t think this experience is one that one would really want aired out to dry. The value in what I will share, in the right ears, far outweighs damage to my reputation. To God be the glory, right?
My husband and I both grew up in what one might say were dysfunctional environments. We both particularly struggled with our fathers. It has taken years for the pain to dull. The scar that is left in these relationships is easily raw with irrational fears made fresh in both old and new memories. Our parents will admit, and we will agree, that the model of marriage, habits, communication, and general relationship skills we learned were not the same as others in healthier environments. In all honor to our mom’s and dad’s, I believe they did the best they could, they way they knew how, just like I’m doing now. I can only imagine the therapy my children will need!
Toby and I have both been shackled to the ways of life we both learned and brought into our marriage. Completely ignorant to it for the first 10 years, at least, right? We were so in love. I literally knew he was the one I wanted the day I first saw him and before his now ex-girlfriend introduced us that day. Insert a winky smile for me here, will ya?
We. Were. So. In. Love. We asked zero questions about expectations and goals and dreams and things that most married people may bring up before getting married. We were just happy. And, we didn’t get married quick. We waited two years. We were seriously fueled by love, coffee, and nicotine. And probably a little Jagermesiter.
We were married at 21. We had struggled with my health already and at 23 we first found the lesions on my brain MRI. The tremor started about then, too. Here we are these young, stupid kids thinking we’ve got it figured out. Ignorance was so bliss.
We moved to Weiser with toddler in tow, a cancer-ridden grandma, had a baby, bought a house, bought a flower shop, bought another house, had another baby, earned a black belt in jiu jitsu, fought cancer hard, finally got diagnosed with MS, and in the middle of it… the love wore thin.
Toby was working long, hard hours at a job he did not love, but had to keep. He was commuting to Boise adding several extra hours to his day. It was stressful for him. I write to vent, misdirected my anger at him, and he still has pause when getting texts from me. While in Boise he was able to use his lunch hours to work out and began attending classes at a jiu jitsu studio. He found his passion for the sport and was thankful to have an outlet for this difficult way of life he was having to deal with.
I was at home feeling abandoned and overwhelmed. Biting off well-more than I could chew, which was how I liked it, but it was at the cost of my quality of life. The stress of keeping up with life became a trigger to health flares. The shop was intended to be a creative outlet for me, but has slowly turned into a difficult job the more my health has slowly declined.
My health has been like that for us. Always with us, a slow drain on extracurricular activities, finances, attitudes. A slow, painful deterioration. It can be as bleak as it sounds. I woke up fine yesterday, but could hardly walk by last night due to problems in my lower back. I am trying to resolve that issue today. I know I don’t have a back injury, it’s just this portion of what my illness looks like today. It’s painful, debilitating. Humiliating. I have so much to do. I cannot concentrate on much. In between bouts of physical activity is lots of laying down. In this laying down time I think mostly randomly, but the Holy Spirit nudges me to share what the Lord has done.
Throughout the story of our relationship, Toby and I drifted, pulled back, threw-in, and nearly ended our legal agreement to be married because there was just so much stress, pain, hurt, anger, and life was greater than we felt we could handle, on top of having to deal with normal conflicts in marriage. Our marriage was strained. Attacked. Every time we could come back together in recent years, something more dramatic than the last would happen, leaving this gaping wound, in both of our hearts, wide open. It seemed almost planned at times, happening just after a rebound, at the epicenter of one of us having a major ordeal, and intentionally designed to strip us apart. We each tried all the negative ways we knew to deal with these relational and conflict problems, which in themselves caused more problems.
Eventually, we went to a few therapists to learn some new communication techniques and to help us with our marriage. This feels especially wonky to be sharing publicly. It feels like we are officially “those” people. Are we in the trust tree? Is there a safe nest here on the interwebs? We basically failed couples therapy, but each started individual therapy which I think was probably the more proper order of things. Anyways… yeah, we go to this new counselor to do a Christian marriage course.
This is the kind of course you take BEFORE you get married or BEFORE you are way out in the woods with your spouse’s limb chomped off by a bear. It sort of felt like we were gushing blood and I’m carrying this chewed off leg and this woman wants us to take a course in very minor first aid. Like, having a sterilized area. We were waaaaay passed that. It was a little awkward. We played her way.
We first have to separately take an online quiz about our marriage. We both did it within the next day or two and were curious about the results at the next meeting the following week. The counselor was concerned about our scores and actually asked us if we were mad at each other or fighting when we took the quiz. We were not. This was a relatively peaceful time in our valley.
The counselor had never seen anything like it before. In several categories, like finance, time, sex, parenting, and other stuff… we got 0% correct, with correct being the same as our partner. As a married couple, we saw eye to eye on ZERO of these important criteria. In her professional opinion, this alone would substantiate that we were not a compatible couple. However, there was one glimmer of hope.
This makes me giddy and sometimes gives me goosebumps. The only area of our lives that we had a mutual agreement on was our faith in God. 100%. The only category that we have any sign of life in, is our awareness that we needed God. The only area on the test that we had any common ground was our belief in God, His power to change the marriage, and our willingness to be obedient to Him. It wasn’t 25% or 50% or even 66 and two thirds %. It was 100%.
That was two years ago. Maybe a bit longer.
God’s time is healing wounds. Anger and pain and hurt and frustration all ebbing away into the past. Forgiveness falls softly and unexpectedly at times, like the first leaves in fall. It has taken years to resolve the chaos we created. I believe God allowed the trial, allowed the pain, and allowed the struggle so that we may come through it still loved as individuals, but stronger in the design He had intended. It may take years to cultivate your testimony, let ours be a light for you.