I have one of the most beautiful marriages I can imagine. Yet, despite the deep love of my truest and best friend, we still have our share of problems. Even we are not exempt. Of course, like anyone else, we have our minor irritations and arguments which surface from time to time. We laugh that we seem to have an annual "blow up", wherein every last wrong or ill feeling comes to a head, following some minor occurance - "the straw the breaks the camel's back" so to speak. Unfortunately, we cannot seem to predict when or where, other than it is typically time alone together - time we might have looked forward to for weeks - time with high expectations on both sides. Last year, it was our anniversary trip - which included two days - one of the best of the year, and one of the worst - all in one weekend. This year's volcano, was preceded by a wonderful weekend at my parents, but was also followed by a fantastic weekend at the beach with some of our dearest friends......and by then we were restored, fully able to relax and enjoy the time together - back to being the intimate couple we typically are.
The most popular American poet of the 19th century, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 - 1882) wrote the following:
"There are moments in life, when the heart is so full of emotion
That if by chance it be shaken, or into its depths like a pebble
Drops some careless word, it overflows, and its secret,
Spilt on the ground like water, can never be gathered together”
I'm not sure I entirely agree with Mr. Longfellow. I can see where this could be true, human emotions are a powerful and confusing things. However, it seems what is truly lacking in this is someone to truly listen. Recently, our Bible study has been covering the book of James - one of my favorites. One of the things which has most come to my heart from the study is the concept of listening. True listening seems to go far beyond hearing, but encompasses understanding another's heart, their circumstance, their past..........watching and waiting with patience to see them emerge from the shell of who they portray themselves to be, from behind all of those walls we each build around our deepest vulnerabilies, dreams, and desires. We are each created in the image of God, fearfully and wonderfully made with so many things to contribute, so many ways to love, so much to offer another. Yet, so frequently, we shy away from both the true listening....and the true offering of self. Why is this? It seems so self defeating. Why do we seek to pull into ourselves, to shut our doors, to shut others out? Is life intended that we all sit in our own little huts, closing off to the world that which we were created to be? I would speculate that we don't often "listen" to others because we are so focused on protecting our own boundaries, making sure there are no cracks in the walls of our own fortress. Truly listening, means opening yourself to another - offering yourself also as vulnerable, while allowing another to share his or her own.
I believe this is why I am thankful. In all of these thoughts, I realize that my husband Jason and I don't leave much room for walls. "Listening" is important to us. There is nothing on earth we hold more dear than the sacred bond we share as husband and wife, confidants and encouragers, lovers and best friends. When a wall of any sort begins to build, we smash it down (hence, the little arguments). Our annual "blow up" is probably like some sort of spring cleaning, where we go around and knock out each and every possible cobweb that may have crept in during the past year......back in the trash, back on the table - all vulnerabilities laid bare before us. Those vulnerabilities are then tenderly cared for by the other. It hurts every time - sometimes it hurts deeply. But every time, with God's help, we have emerged closer, stronger - our relationship richer, deeper, and more secure. It is this bond which allows us to share our love so freely with others - with our children, with our friends. Would that everyone allow themselves to taste such joy - knowing it comes with pain and trials, but also that it is the most beautiful treasure one could ever know. "Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow." James 1:17
All earthly things pass away eventually. While it brings tears to my eyes to even write this, it is possible I won't always have my Jason beside me. My heart's deepest prayer is that I will have him by my side until we are both old and grey - and die together side by side in our sleep. Maybe God will honor that prayer. I will continue to pray it with all of my heart. However, I have also seen many dear couples separated by death after many years of marriage; couples who are far beyond Jason and I in their devotion and love for each other. What then? Does life's purpose come to an end? Are we left alone? Surely not....
I am reminded in my musings that there is One who does not disappoint, does not fail, does not put up walls against us, One who knows our deepest hurts, fears, and vulnerabilities. He is the ultimate listener......our Creator and Heavenly Father. As we build relationships with each other here on earth, we must not neglect to include Him...."And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. Yet, a cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart."