There are always things in life that would really nice if we could learn earlier than we do. And for me, I seem to learn lessons slowly, painfully and the hard way. It’s been this way since I was 12 perhaps, throwing tuna fish sandwiches at a wall yelling at my mother. Occasionally I would heed the advice of older, seasoned ones. But more often I sought to determine for myself if they’d really meant it.
Fast forward to 18 years old when I was mature enough to throw a shoe at my sister’s head while on a lengthy road trip in our small car. All because she told me I was “cute”. She demanded to be driven to the nearest airport and I stewed. My poor parents drove us all home in one piece and years later we think it’s pretty funny. But again during that season, I continued to learn my way.
We married young, didn’t get a great deal of marriage advice, at least that I remember. It’s possible I was blinded by the burning love in my heart. But the theme continued of learning hard things hard ways. In the first year we were married I stormed out the door many times in frustration and immaturity, if my memory is correct I think I even ended up on my parents doorstep one night. Oh the injustice and imperfection I cried! I was pretty sure things were supposed to be dreamy for at least a couple years. I made my best effort to prove that the world, marriage and all should revolve around me.
I learned to care more about what my parents thought about things that my husband. I’d call them for ‘what to do’ about life stuff. Them or a friend. It seemed totally normal and good to me at the time. But it wasn’t. It was one more ‘hard life lesson learned’ for me that was the opposite of good for our marriage.
There was a season, about three years ago that I was 99% convinced that there was greener grass to be had. About that time someone said to me
The grass is green where you water it.
I’ve never forgotten those words. And the more time passes, the more I believe they are true. Though we haven’t arrived or ‘met the mark’ at this point I just wanted to share that the fruit of sticking with your lifelong companion when things are not so wonderful is sweeter than any fresh start or greener grass you may think you’ve discovered.
Last night I arranged for a babysitter and set up a date night with my husband. We slipped out the door with no one in tears, a huge feat. We spent the next two hours enjoying food but more enjoying precious face-to-face time. We chatted about little things. Then I began to ask his input and brought out my notepad. I needed help deciding on some things with the kids. I needed his level head to weigh in on my emotions. I needed his direction and leadership on several accounts. I didn’t argue or think of what smart thing I could say. I scribbled down notes and by dinners’ end felt a huge load lifted. I didn’t ask him, but I’m pretty sure he felt valued, respected and important-which he is.
It has taken seriously just about all of these past eleven years for me to figure out that this is the way it’s meant to work. That life isn’t all about me, it’s about the us we formed the day we married. It’s about God pouring grace out all over and us finding our way through it. The dividends of some heart wrenching work are paying off. It might sound old-fashioned to you and that’s okay. We’re liking it…