Friday, July 10, 2009

I do; I will

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.

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:

We're screwed.

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.


James Ricardo The Actor said...

WOW Jess! WOW!!!! Love You! That is all I can say!

peaj said...

I'm not reading that blog, and I had a strong gut reaction when I got to the "My husband left me" line. How terrible.

Before I got married, I discovered that one reason I was so reluctant to marry my girlfriend was that I knew that I could not fulfill my vows. I am not faithful enough, not strong enough to accomplish the absolutes that my vows contained. I had been laboring under the unexamined assumption that this meant that my girlfriend wasn't the one for me, but I came to realize that it was about my failings, not hers.

I also came to the scary realization that I would never be able to keep vows to anyone, ever, by myself. I knew that I would have to trust that God would make me able to keep my vows. It was one of the most frightening things I ever did - to take on vows that I was responsible for, trusting that God would help me to keep them.

Coming up on nineteen years with my lovely wife!

John said...

Amazingly well written my friend! Michael and I will be stealing "I will" when we get hitched. My mantra day in and out has always been, "thy will be done".

Anywho, you are such an amazing writer and teacher! I am proud to be your friend :)

kathiek said...

Beautifully written, Jess.

How sad about that couple, though.
Doing the right thing, day in and day out, is difficult and courageous (as is admitting when we miss the mark) and thankfully we don't have to do it on our own. There is always One nearby, ready to help us make the right choices and ready to forgive us when we don't...we have only to ask and believe.

Pop said...

Jess, I completely agree with John: your writing is extra-ordinary, an easy blend of the whimsical, the personal, and the profound. And never preachy but pleasingly moral. Proud of you.

Jessica said...

A lot of wisdom here, guys--thanks!

And John--I am proud to be YOUR friend too and hopefully I will get to hear you say 'I will' when the time comes;-)

Pop--thanks so much--I am proud of you too!!!

Jessica said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mandy and Jack said...

I'm a MckReader, sitting at your show in Dallas. I knew to look for Jessica, so I visited your site when I saw it in the playbill. And WOW. You're talking about my friend El, who I am also completely hurting for. Small world that God put together.

Ok show is starting!!

Jessica Latshaw said...

Wow Mandy--I can't believe your watching the show now--how cool:-) my heart breaks for your friend...and what a small world...thanks for stopping by and saying hi!

Ash said...

Thanks for this....your faith and wisdom is a blessing!

Mandy and Jack said...

We are a bit baffled by the fact that you commented back... um, WHILE you were on stage. I mean, you probably weren't, but that would have been quite a trick.

It was even more fun watching the show with somebody we "knew" on stage. Fabulous show! Even from the verrrrrry back. :) Glad you all braved the heat for us!

Jessica Latshaw said...

That would be quite a trick, you are absolutley right about that! I actually was commenting duringthe show, but not while I was on stage:-) so glad you guys could come! Our cast is loving TX!!!!

El said...

Thanks for posting about our family- I found your blog through Mandy. As much as I would like to say that writing those words "My husband left me" mean that was the end for us, how much easier it would be, truthfully, right now, just to be done...I'm not.

Because you're right. We have free will. We get to make the choice to do the right thing every single day, whether the people around us are doing the right thing or not, whether even our loved ones and spouses and those closest to us are doing the right thing. Even though it would be easier, their choices don't mandate our choices. Even in times of trial, we can still choose to do the right thing, still choose to say "I will" even if you are, for now, saying it alone.

Thanks for a great post, and thanks for reading my blog.

Jessica said...

Oh El...My heart goes out to you. I don't quite know what to say other than that I am praying for your whole family, your beautiful family. May peace and love and grace be yours in abundance...