There is a blog that I have been reading for a while now. The author is a young mom whose husband works two jobs to take care of their family. They lead a youth group at their church. Two years ago, their third son was born stillborn at nine months, which of course was devastating. Their son born after him is deaf. She is pregnant with their fifth child right now, only twelve weeks along. Her site is decorated with stills that capture the faces of her family. Happy faces, loving faces.
Friday, July 10, 2009
I tell you all of this because these are the things that have shaped this young woman's life. But through it all there has been a theme of love and trust. Of family. Of staying together. Of not giving up when despair seemed like the easiest path in which to sink.
Which is why I was shocked to read this sentence on her blog yesterday:
My husband left me.
Literally, I had a visceral reaction to it; I felt sick inside.
Some of the comments left on her blog revealed a theme of vulnerability; of wondering, If this marriage is falling apart, what makes me think mine won't?
And the truth is that our marriages are vulnerable. As is every one of the relationships in our lives. Because of the very fact that they consist wholly of us, they lay prone to our downfalls. Our selfishness. Our inability to follow through, though we've promised otherwise.
But there is some good news.
I have to believe it.
If nothing else, there is the decision that we are free to make to simply and doggedly do the right thing. With one foot in front of the other, we can walk in the general direction that we know to be good, elusive as it may feel at times.
Truly, I think that we have more autonomy than we give ourselves credit for.
My friend recently got married and instead of each of the couple answering I do to the vows, they decided to answer with I will. I like this. I like how it acknowledges our ongoing will in the matter; how it encompasses not just the moment in which the vows are first uttered, but every moment thereafter.
So there's something to us understanding that we don't just have an obligation to do the right thing, but that it is within our power to do it.
Now that's much better than being a slave, right? Better than not having a choice in the matter, either way. Our free will is a powerful tool that can cause beauty. It's up to us.
Better than nice; it's life to us.
And then there's the matter of us not being able to find it within ourselves to do the right thing--what then?
Then you're screwed.
But that particular idiom has been pretty funny to me ever since a pastor that I know and love and who will remain nameless to protect his reputation hit another car, turned to me and my sister in his car, and uttered these two words:
Despite ourselves, and the poor hit car in front of us, we laughed.
The, ah, pastor didn't.
But, when we feel we can't do the right thing, or are afraid we might not, well that's when we admit it. Tell someone. Tell God. Tell someone and God, though chances are the latter will be listening while you tell the former, anyway. Listening proudly cause it takes courage to admit weakness.
But you might want to still tell Him anyway.
Even though he already knows.
Because there is freedom that comes from honesty within ourselves; there is grace that comes softly to cushion our prostrate selves when we try for humility.
And then that small, familiar light starts flickering; that Better Way whispers its course and as we tentatively follow it the house of cards on which we had previously been standing gets solidified a bit more, day by day, hour by hour, as we continue to honor our promises and with each action and word and thought back up the decision we made when we said I do, when we still say I will.