Archive for the ‘Trust’ Tag

Waiting Is so Hard!   7 comments

If your life is working out reasonably well, I am happy for you.  It is not my experience, though I daily put my heart and will into doing my best.  I feel like a dog chained to a post and told to fetch.  Most of my life I thought the whole exercise was about figuring out how to get loose so as to fetch.  That’s what smart, resourceful dogs would do.  I tried various strategies–twist to loosen the chain or pole, pull to break the chain.  I was apparently doing it all wrong, because I was a failure at fetching.  I saw other dogs retrieving all sorts of things for their master.  They had various schemes for getting free of their chain, but none of those worked for me.  I don’t have a life verse, but Kimberly one day laughed at spotting my life meme: “Well, that didn’t &#%! go as planned.”

Finally I decided that I had misunderstood my master’s intentions, and he just wanted me to sit and wait.  But what should I do while waiting?  If I were eventually going to be let loose to fetch, perhaps I should practice the skills needed… except those skills were only relevant for a retriever, and maybe that was not my purpose after all.  I was waiting for something.  What?  Was I supposed to simply learn to be good at waiting?  What does that even mean?  Patience and trust, I suppose.

Okay, so that is what my attitude should be, but what do I DO while practicing that attitude?  Is there a better way to sit or lie?  Inside the doghouse or out?  Do I keep my eyes closed or look at something… at what?  I was sure there were better and worse ways to wait.  Slowly anxiety overtook my patience–I need to be a better waiter!!  Apparently the one thing I do really poorly is wait.  And I am so legalistic I can even turn doing nothing into a standard to meet.

But look at all those other dogs doing their thing!  Dogs have legs to jump and run and mouths to grab and hold… they weren’t designed to just sit.  Are these joys of life the rewards for getting good marks in waiting?  Or is waiting well its own reward?  It doesn’t feel rewarding.  It feels like being forgotten, or worse still being rejected, like I’m not good enough to fetch.  As you can see, I still have a long way to go in learning trust and patience. Doing nothing is really hard!

 

Posted July 2, 2016 by janathangrace in thoughts

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The Spirituality of Confusion   7 comments

I was raised on clarity like Iowans are raised on corn—it was the staple that nourished our grip on reality, giving us security and power, confidence and perseverance.  Dad gave me all the answers before I had even stumbled onto the questions, saving me the trouble of sorting it out myself, and he shared his take on life with a degree of certainty that silenced doubt before it even had a voice.  My parents, being deeply religious, anchored all this clarity to God himself so that doubt was not only foolish but dangerous, a personal affront to the Almighty.

As a child I was handed the blueprint for life, the map and compass, and I followed it faithfully each step, landing in Calcutta as a missionary at 30 years of age, having somehow escaped the indignity of adolescent questioning.

Unfortunately, life is not so neat and tidy, but constantly pokes through our carefully boxed up constructs, threatening the whole structure. “You can do anything if you try hard enough.” Really? “Thankfulness leads to contentment.” But if it doesn’t?  Reality seems to stubbornly resist fitting into our prefab structures, challenging our paradigms. So we fight back—pretend there’s been no breach, or try to block up the gaps in our worldview by tweaking the architecture, or construct awkward explanations for the exposed holes, the received truth that doesn’t play out as we’d expected.  But for me to make substantive changes, to move around the support beams, would force a complete rethinking of reality as I knew it, a stroll into insanity, so I clung to my views, blaming myself for failing to make it work. It took four years of unrelenting depression to shake my grip on my framework of truth.

And so, at the age of 40, I stumbled into the adolescence I soldiered past in my teens. Discovering my basket was full of unworkable answers, I set about looking for the right ones. I still wanted certainty, just not a defective set. But honesty is a bitch, fertile though she is. Once you let her in, she barks at every discrepancy and won’t be shushed. Each fresh answer I uncovered brought more questions. I was in a fog of confusion that I could not escape, stuck, unable to follow a path I could not see. I kept walking, but I seemed to be going in circles. I kept praying for clarity, but she had abandoned me and obscurity had firmly grasped my hand.

Facing confusion with calm is a plus, and parts of Christianity outside my heritage even find obscurity beneficial, oddly enough. Books like the fourteenth century “Cloud of Unknowing” and “The Dark Night of the Soul” by St. John of the Cross warned against leaning too heavily on reason and intellect, which could obstruct as well as open the path to insight. Just this morning I read two psychologists discussing a client in that conundrum:

“You know, that’s the thing about intelligence. It can really get in the way of wisdom, the mind being such a good place to hide from all the messiness that comes with our feelings. Maybe what your patient needs to do is get out of his head and get into his heart. Stop thinking so much and let his feelings get the better of him, let loose with a good cry or a fit of anger, whatever it is that’s stirring down there at that mysterious place he’s afraid to go to.” (Eric Kolbell in “What Jesus Meant: The Beatitudes and a Meaningful Life”)

The thing is, I don’t mind feeling my feelings, but doesn’t my progress depend on then understanding them in order to resolve them? For me the key was still clarity. But what if it wasn’t. What if clarity at this point was the problem instead of the answer. It was just this discovery John Kavanaugh made in my adopted city.

When the brilliant ethicist John Kavanaugh went to work for three months at “the house of the dying” in Calcutta, he was seeking a clear answer as to how best to spend the rest of his life.  On the first morning there he met Mother Teresa.  She asked, “And what can I do for you?” Kavanaugh asked her to pray for him. “What do you want me to pray for?” she asked.  He voiced the request that he had borne thousands of miles from the United States: “Pray that I have clarity.” She said firmly, “No, I will not do that.”    When he asked her why, she said, “Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of.”  When Kavanaugh commented that she always seemed to have the clarity he longed for, she laughed and said, “I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust.  So I will pray that you trust God.” (Brennan Manning in “Ruthless Trust”)

Fear or desire may drive us to demand answers, but Pandora learned that trying to pry open life’s box of secrets leads only to trouble. God has his own time frame for sharing his insights with us, and patience is the truest mark of trust. I have not yet found my way through the fog, but often the way has found me, working into my soul silently, healing and growing me on the sly, startling me with its results: humility, patience with myself and others, empathy, sensitivity, endurance, faith. Obscurity comes with a sleigh full of good, though it doesn’t feel like Christmas. As a friend once opined, “It’s too bad life’s lessons don’t come in a box of chocolates.” The best work is often the hardest work and longest to complete, but it is the most rewarding.

I’m not completely in the dark. I find some general directions to take, the fog sometimes lifts, but lack of lucidity can be freeing, opening up options I would otherwise avoid because I was locked into an inflexible clarity—rationality that blocked thinking, faith that hindered trust. The grace of God is so much bigger than I ever imagined.

Posted May 20, 2015 by janathangrace in thoughts

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Saving Trust   1 comment

My achievement demon was finally beaten (as I posted), but it was a double-team effort, not a solo act.  Berly deserves special praise for her unusual trust and courage to stand with me in this battle as she lived out our fundamental commitment to support one another’s personal struggles.  It is a long story, a good story, one well worth telling, but too big for a blog.  The only way for me to escape my work-driven value system was to resist its demands, which meant choosing a job which was good for my soul but bad for my pocket.  I have been employed part-time and seasonally for 40 months as our savings slowly dwindled.  I have looked for other employment, but not aggressively, taking it at the pace my spirit has needed.  

Imagine how much trust and courage this has required of Kimberly and how badly I needed this trust when struggling with my own self doubt.  She has said many times, “we may lose our home, but we must not lose our souls,” and so we have continued to make the hard choice of trusting God to keep us afloat financially while we take the steps we have both needed to make room for our weary hearts.  Think how much Kimberly must trust me not to be selfish, not to take the easy way, not to use my struggle as an excuse to slack off, and to instead accept that I am doing all that I can within the sphere of my emotional strength, making the best choices I know how in harmony with my spirit.  We have built this mutual trust by sharing honestly, often, about our deepest heart issues.  We trust one another not to use our neediness to get an advantage over the other.

My win over this perverse accomplishment-based value system is not full or final.  I cannot suddenly begin to live as though I’m now free of its influence. as though this lifelong weight can no longer distort my self perception.  Don’t look for miracles here or you will be disappointed.  I am in recovery mode, and it will be a long, slow rehabilitation.  It will take whatever time it takes, and trying to hurry it would undermine the process.  But you can be sure that Kimberly and I will stay faithful to the path before us.

Posted January 22, 2014 by janathangrace in Personal

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Grace for My Frailties   6 comments

COSTLY SAVE

COSTLY SAVE

I am more productive just staying in bed than trying to multitask.  When I try juggling tasks, I drop all of them, and one of them inevitably knocks over a vase.  Unfortunately, I can’t even multi-think.  I can’t keep two disparate ideas together in my head, however simple they are.  The new thought drives out the old.  I try to compensate with lists (which I forget to bring), notes scribbled on the back of used envelopes (which I inadvertently throw out), and pleas for Kimberly to remind me (a job she rarely accepts).  I had a thumb drive with a to-do list that I cleverly kept on my key ring–can’t leave without it.  But several times I almost left work with the drive (and my keys) still in the office computer, locking me out of both my building and my car at 2 a.m., so I took the USB drive off the key ring, and within a week I lost it.

Plan-A-B-C3Today I was working around the house and actually thought to keep a pair of reading glasses with me for small-print labels and dimly lit spaces.  Hanging loosely around my neck they could easily get damaged, so I slid them to the top of my head (see, I’m planning!).  As I was mowing, a tree branch knocked them off.  I almost got down to retrieve them, but decided to grab them on my next pass.  As I swung back by, I saw they lay in the cut grass, so I could just keep mowing and get them later.  After three more passes I forgot and ran right over them.  I found only a part of the mangled frame.  I now know not to mow with glasses on my head… but next time I will forget I have them on my head or I’ll take them off for safe keeping and plop a book on them.  This is why I buy $2 Walmart glasses.   I have back-up plans for back-up plans… three or four levels of compensatory strategies.

weakness

It is a real disability–I’ve completely missed a couple days of irregularly scheduled work, wrecked our cars, and almost burned the house down.  No amount of scolding or shaming on the part of others or planning and compensating on my part is going to fix it.  When I clamp down on one thing, something else shakes loose.   I’m grateful for a patient, understanding wife and a God who keeps an eye out for me.  I still have my job and cars and house… and a supportive wife and caring God too!

My real back-up plan is God.  I have to depend so much more on Him than many others do.  His grace has such a bigger field of play in my life than in those whose lives are well-ordered.  The penalty for not being able to take care of myself is that God takes care of me.  Who could imagine a better arrangement?  Happy frailties! (2 Cor. 12:9)

wpid-if_god_is_mine_it_is_enough1

Posted April 23, 2013 by janathangrace in Personal

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Giving Up Clarity for Lent   6 comments

I grew up the son of a preacher.  We went to Sunday school, Sunday morning service, Sunday evening service, and Wednesday prayer meeting.  We had daily family devotions with Bibles and hymn books, and all six kids, without exception,  prayed out loud.  But we looked on liturgy with suspicion.  A real relationship with God was spontaneous, not circumscribed by rituals like all those unsaved Roman Catholics.  I never even heard of Lent until I was an adult, but we lived Lent all year long–self-examination, repentance, discipline, sacrifice.  The problem is that we never got out of Lent.

boy in pew

By the time I discovered grace, I had enough Lent practice behind me to cover several lives over.  Last year was my first participation in Lent, and I approached it with the eyes of grace–to bless my soul by releasing it from some burden that weighed it down, to sacrifice a problem not a pleasure.  I decided to sacrifice busyness and embrace rest.  It was so good for my heart, that after 40 days I made it my spiritual emphasis for the year.  I have planned another year-long Lenten emphasis for 2013–sacrificing my need to figure things out (and so a reliance on my acuity), in other words, I am embracing ignorance.

confusion sign

I did not come to this point willingly.  I begged and pleaded for insight, thought myself into and out of a thousand speculations, tried to pry the lid off that sealed box of truth, and finally gave up.  Learning to trust God with a confused mind is a bit crazy and doesn’t feel very safe.  I was just now reminded that learning to trust God last year was pretty tough too–expecting more from doing less?  That doesn’t make a heck of a lot of sense either.  I don’t know if my brain needs a break, but I’m pretty sure my reliance on it is false security.  I have enough faith to take this path, I need more faith if I am to find peace along this way instead of turmoil and fear.

Posted February 12, 2013 by janathangrace in Personal

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Who Let You In?   2 comments

I love mystery in arts and entertainment, but I don’t want it following me into the parking lot and hitching a ride home.  If insight is a blessing, mystery is a curse.  If knowledge is power, mystery is paralysis.  What possible good can it bring?  Of course, there was that little incident over the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that ended rather badly.  Apparently some knowledge and control is better left in God’s hands.  But it’s scary to be left in the dark.  It feels like it’s my fault, as though God is put out with me and won’t turn on the light, not as though he’s doing it out of love and support.  I’m really struggling to trust God with my unresolved ignorance and confusion.  Mystery has never been part of my spiritual tool chest.  Gerald May explains why:

When we were children, most of us were good friends with mystery.  The world was full of it and we loved it.  Then as we grew older, we slowly accepted the indoctrination that mystery exists only to be solved.  For many of us, mystery became an adversary; unknowing became a weakness.  The contemplative spiritual life is an ongoing reversal of this adjustment.  It is a slow and sometimes painful process of becoming “as little children” again, in which we first make friends with mystery and finally fall in love again with it.  And in that love we find an ever increasing freedom to be who we really are in an identity that is continually emerging and never defined.  We are freed to join the dance of life in fullness without  having a clue about what the steps are.

We’re just getting reacquainted.  It’s going to take a lot more time before mystery is a friend, especially a trusted friend.

Posted February 4, 2013 by janathangrace in Personal, thoughts

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Spiritual Virtigo   14 comments

confusion boxMy mother in her quirky way used to make us Christmas gifts of various kinds.  This  Christmas I noticed my dad is still using a bathrobe she made for him 30 years ago.  She must have made it out of upholstery material, because it is soft and warm on the outside and stiff and scratchy on the skin-side.  My older brother David once unwrapped a gift from her and responded graciously, “I love it!  What is it?”  Indecipherable love.  God’s been putting together a special gift for me this year as a resource for my spiritual growth, and it looks like a box full of confusion, without an instruction manual.   God, you know I’m already depressed, right?  What the heck do I do with this?

Hundreds of years ago St. John of the Cross descended into “the dark night of the soul” and left a consoling account for those who followed.  The Christian psychiatrist Gerald May describes his own experience of it:

[This spirit of virtigo] seems specifically designed for people like me, people who refuse to relinquish the idea that if only I could understand things, I could make them right.  Having lost the old willpower and its satisfactions, we desperately try to figure out where we have gone astray.  “What’s happening here?  Where have I gone wrong?  Maybe my problem is this… No, maybe it’s that… Perhaps I should try this… Or that….”

Every effort at soul-diagnosis and cure fails.  We are left in the dark.  And that is for our salvation, May says: “Sooner or later, there is nothing left to do but give up.  And that is precisely the point, the purpose of the ‘dizzy spirit.’  In each relinquishment… reliance upon God is deepened.”   I’ve been mapquesting God for directions to my soul’s healing and taking every turn He signaled.  Apparently I’m in the Slough of Despond not from getting confused and careening off the road, but from following His bullet points.  He drove me straight into the bog.

swamp

MARSH RD, DESERT RD, DITCH RD, Hmmm

There are some advantages of sinking into the quagmire.  No worries about getting lost if you’re already there.  No wrong turns to make if you can’t move.  No real expectations to fail if there are no goals.  If it’s God’s move; all I can do is wait… and trust.  That’s always the tough part, especially for us hard-working, self-reliant types.  “Be still and know that I am God” is a much deeper concept than I realized–not simply self control in quieting myself, but learning to patiently accept God’s time-outs for my soul, letting something work which I cannot see or measure and over which I have no control.  Who knew being out of control was a sign of spiritual progress?

boy and teddy

Posted February 1, 2013 by janathangrace in Personal

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Be Still My Soul   4 comments


The truth is that my soul asks for very little.  It mostly just needs to be heard and affirmed.  It is sad that I have spent my life denying it this small benefit, that my automatic response is still to shame it into compliance.  My Lenten fast from haste has inclined me to be gentle with my soul, and with the support of my wife, it seems to be making a real difference.  I think I may make this my year’s resolution, “be gentle to your soul, listen to it and affirm it.”

This afternoon with many tasks pressing for attention, my soul said, “I need a little care.”  So I left the tasks aside and followed my heart.  After an hour with a soft puppy, a soft pillow, soft music, and gliding birds on our wide-screen, my spirit relaxed and set me free to be “productive” without choosing against my own needs.  Forcing my soul to comply to the demands of duty tears at its very fabric.  My soul is far more important than the leaky faucet, dirty living room, or ragged lawn.

OUT OF SEASON

My heart is even more important (dare I say it?) than satisfying others with birthday gifts, a lift to the airport, or help painting.  If I wound my soul by caring for someone else, I not only harm myself, but prevent God from using alternative means to meet that need (or get in God’s way of teaching them an even greater truth).  My giving to others must come from genuine resources that I have to offer.  If it is squeezed from me by obligation, fear, shame, or the like, it will hurt both me and the one I am intending to help.  Giving sacrificially is a part of genuine love, even to the point of giving my life for another.  But God forbids me to sacrifice my soul.

This year I really need to give up my role as Savior of the world… or even of this particular situation or person.  I need to learn to trust God with others’ needs and respect myself even if others blame me, reject me, or try to otherwise manipulate me to meet their expectations.   That is a very tough thing to do without strong human backing, especially since my emotions are quick to agree with their evaluations.  Thankfully, I always have Kimberly’s support (not on every occasion, but always in the set of her heart towards me… I think she is more supportive of me than I am of myself).

If I feel pressured by the expectations of others, I will try not to protect myself by minimizing their need (shaming or blaming them in return).  Their need is legitimate and significant whether or not I can meet it.  Caring about their need does not mean I must care for their need.  What a heavy yoke I have been dragging around most of my life.  In spite of how I imagined it, Jesus did not say, “Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you more to do,” but he said to the weary, “I will give you rest.”

Posted March 16, 2012 by janathangrace in thoughts

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On the Lam   1 comment

I have not visited my own site since I last posted.  When I sink too far down, I just work each day on breathing.  Sickness of soul has many comparisons with physical illness, and in both cases healing requires rest, the kind of rest and as much of it as a soul and body need.  Most of  my life I put my body and soul on strict rations, telling them what they needed and giving only that.  I now realize my body and soul are a good bit smarter than my brain in knowing what they lack.  I now see my brain is called to support those needs and not contradict and fight them.  What I need, I need.  There is no shame in needing.

THE TOUCH OF GENTLE HANDS

It is true that being “needy” is considered socially ugly in America.  Some of this springs from a reaction to manipulators, folks who take advantage of others’ sympathy–and as a healthy boundary this caution may be good–but I suspect much of it springs from a sense of prideful independence… at least I know how powerfully this has worked in my life.  And the natural partner to pride is shame (recognized or not), so I have also been ashamed for my need of others, as well as fearful of their resentment in helping me.  I have discovered that the more I try to deny my needs, the more I close off grace from my life.  Openly acknowledged need is the entry point for grace, though such vulnerability must be exercised with wisdom since letting down the defenses not only allows for more personal healing and deepened relationship, but may also open the way for much harsher wounding, depending on the response of the one we trust.  I thank God often for my trustworthy wife.

Posted January 29, 2012 by janathangrace in Personal

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Today’s Marriage Homily   2 comments

I married off my sister-in-law today and gave this message.

The Third Strand Makes All the Difference

     They say love is one long sweet dream and marriage is the alarm clock.  I can testify to the truth of that.  But waking up is not a bad thing unless you want to spend your life in a coma.  Erin & David have been through a lot together already and gotten to know each other pretty well.  I’ve been impressed to see them work through major decisions like buying a house, employment changes and relocation.  Still marriage always brings in new dynamics.

Before marriage there is always a question, you have to have a backup plan, you can’t really trust the future.  Marriage is a commitment for life.  It gives the safety you need to work out personal and relational issues, strength and courage to engage in difficult endeavors, and instead of a place to call home, you will have a person to call home, a resting place for your heart.

No longer I and you, but us: as the song says, “Me and You Against the World”.  Everything that happens to you happens to the other as well.  Every relationship you have becomes part of the marriage (as you can see here today).  No decision you make will be for you alone, but will involve your partner in some way.  You start thinking about “us” instead of “me.”  What does “our” future hold is a very different question from what does “my” future hold.

the bride and parents

In Ecclesiastes, a cord of three strands, is about three persons: husband and wife, and the third I am inclined to believe is God himself.  But I would like also to consider the three strands of love, three crucial expressions of love, the dynamics that hold the strands together.  I call them “graces” to emphasize that to work well, they must flow not simply from you, but from God’s heart through yours to your mates—loves 3 strands.

Grace of Acceptance

Love is full of delight, so accepting one another should be easy, right?  But you are human, you will fail and hurt and misunderstand each other.  All marriages have these struggles, but healthy marriages acknowledge and face them honestly.  This does not mean detente where you just sidestep issues, but a real effort to understand, respect, and make room for your differences.  Learn to recognize and respond to one another’s true needs, the needs of the heart.

I can’t tell you how much personal healing and growth I have gained from Kimberly accepting my weaknesses as well as my strengths.  It is scary.  It may feel uncomfortable to cry in front of your wife, for instance, but if I do not let her in, I stay locked inside myself.  When you are given permission to be yourself, to bring all of who you are into relationship, and be embraced as a whole person, it gives you the safety and strength to accept yourself and grow into the beautiful person God designed you to be.

The problem comes when your spouse is just “wrong.”  How can you accept that?  Trying to settle who is “right” and “wrong” will probably make matters worse.  Accepting them is not agreeing with them–it is rather trying to understand where they are coming from, what their needs are, and how those needs can be met.  Where do you get the strength to love unconditionally?  Only from God.

Grace flows from Him into us before it flows out from us to our spouse.  We need to discover ourselves as loved unconditionally before we have the strength and security to love another truly.  Author and minister Brennan Manning says, “God loves you as you are and not as you should be!  Do you believe this?  That God loves you beyond worthiness and unworthiness, beyond fidelity and infidelity, that He loves you in the morning sun and the evening rain, that He loves you without caution, regret, boundary, limit, or breaking point?”

 Grace of Trust

Giving someone your trust is a great act of love.  You can only be vulnerable with the deepest parts of yourself, those things you want to hide from everyone, to the extent you can trust the other person.  But you can’t order trust for overnight delivery.  It is a life long intentional process.  You can’t make someone trust you and you can’t simply choose to trust another.  A deep level of trust is never simply granted to someone, even the one closest to you, but is earned step by step as you share your inadequacies and receive empathy in return. Everyone doubt’s their own loveliness. You can each be the reflection of God’s loving eyes to the other.

There will be stumbles and falls along this journey of building trust.  Expect it.  The pressures of the world blast against you and blow you off course, but this is the bedrock to which you always return, this commitment you make today and every day after: to live in integrity–being honest, understanding, and accepting, out of a heart growing in love.  I have seen that you two have such a commitment to being honest with one another, that you are willing to show each other your emotions, even the difficult ones.

Nothing is more powerful a support than someone knowing your failings and loving you regardless, I don’t mean the failings that are obvious, but the ones you have hidden all your life.  Out of fear of rejection you covered them up, you felt unlovable because of these shadows. But how can we ever feel secure until we find someone who will love us after knowing us completely?  God does this for us, but we need someone to show us this, someone with skin on, with a voice and smile and hug we can really hear and see and feel.  Having experienced this with Kimberly, I can say this has been the truest revelation of love to me.

Grace of Sharing (Listening, Understanding, Respecting)

Set aside regular times when you turn off the TV, turn off your cell phones, forget your To-Do lists, and concentrate on listening to one another.  It will take hard work and a lot of time.  I can tell you ahead of time that you will need to learn a new language and culture, become an anthropological researcher.

Erin, you women are complicated creatures.  You understand each other by some magic telepathy.  Please remember that our brains don’t tune to that channel.  If the man asks, “How are you?” and you say, “Fine!” he will take your word for it, give you a peck on the cheek and sit down with the remote.  You have 49 distinct meanings for ‘fine’ depending on your intonation, your eyebrows, your lips, your hands, your posture.  You are so eloquent… but we completely miss your subtlety.  We can only understand what you say plainly with words.

David, never assume anything.  You don’t know women, not even Erin.  The good news is you can learn, the bad news is it will take a lot of effort and patience.  You have to ask questions repeatedly.  You probably won’t even know the right questions to ask, which is okay because Erin already knows what she wants to say.  You just have to open the door.  Even if you don’t understand at first, but really listen, she will feel better.  By listen, I don’t mean nodding and saying “uh huh” as you watch the Colts fumble.  The DVR was invented to save marriages.

Kimberly and I come from different families, backgrounds, experiences, and personalities, and when she shared bits and pieces of her perspective with me, they didn’t fit into my worldview.  It sounded like Chinese.

We all have unique perspectives, which seem normal to us.  If my point of view is normal to me, then your point of view has to be abnormal.  We all stand at the point we think is the correct balance.  To the right of us are conservative tightwads and to the left are profligate spendthrifts.  To the right of us are workaholics and to the left are lazy bums.  On this side are the messy and on the other are the clean freaks.  Where you stand is always “reasonable” (otherwise you wouldn’t stand there).  This means the other person’s position is “unreasonable.”  So you will always grudge yielding.

Kimberly wanted me to vacuum behind the sofa where no one could see the dust, not even us.  It was “unreasonable.”  Many of you say “Your wife is right, that is very reasonable.  What is unreasonable is cleaning behind the hot water heater.”  But those who clean behind the hot water heater see that as normal, it is the people who scrub their driveways that are bonkers.  Whatever your position, it is what it is.  Erin, your view is entirely legitimate.  David doesn’t have to agree that you are right and he is wrong, but he needs to respect your perspective and make room for it as much as he is able.  And the same for you Erin.  That big scrap of metal he wants to keep looks like trash to you, but to him it is a little piece of a dream.  Let him have a shed to stack his dreams in.

The source of these expressions of love, these graces of trust and vulnerability, listening and understanding, respect and acceptance, the source is God, the strand that keeps the cord from unraveling.  It is crucial to your marriage that each of you individually and as a couple develop a deep, honest, trusting relationship with God, find in him the grace you need for yourself and one another.  His love is limitless as the sky, constant as the sun, deeper than the ocean, eternal and unconditional as only God Himself is.  In Him you will find life, and through him your marriage will be a little taste of heaven (with a few quarrels mixed in).

Posted November 6, 2011 by janathangrace in thoughts

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