You know me well enough to know that I’m not good at putting on a front. Or as we used to say back in the day, “faking the funk.” I feel deeply. And my desire to be authentic and transparent in every area of my life means that those feelings–the ones driven by my flesh as well as the Holy Spirit–are often on display in both the best and the worst ways. You’ve also had to live through/deal with the fact that much of my work as a writer, my calling and purpose means I often feel compelled to share the story of my life–a story that you are very much a part of–with the masses. I’m so grateful that you’ve been really good about that.
Welp. This is another one of those moments. 🙂
The truth is, this hasn’t been a great year for us. It’s been the toughest year of our married lives. There’s so much broken. So much misunderstanding. And yes, much resentment. So waking up this morning on our 7th wedding anniversary, I thought…”wow, this is different.” My mind didn’t go to flowers or dinner or any potential…ahem…bedroom shenanigans. Today, for me, my thoughts are not on celebration but more contemplation. Where are we? What does God want for us in this season? How do we navigate the million and one land mines in our union? How do we keep our daughter protected; keep her from being a casualty in all our “war of the roses” moments?
The simple answer is…I don’t know.
(You know that’s not an easy admission for me.)
I want to share a story with you: One day, while taking our K to school, she started whining and crying about how her mosquito bites hurt. I tried to console her. I tried to tell her that mosquito bites itch for a little while but then they go away. But nothing was working. Then, I realized something. I was trying to find a way to make her not feel the hurt–and she was looking at me like I was crazy. I wasn’t going to make her not feel the pain–not even a little bit. So that’s when, not even thinking, I said, “Sometimes boo-boos have to hurt for a while before they heal.”
Talk about a lightbulb moment for me. This thing hurts right now. It. Hurts. The reason I’m even doing this in the public forum is because I refuse to just post happy anniversary pictures, and date night recaps on Facebook and pretend like it doesn’t. I have absolutely no desire to paint a pretty perfect picture for folks in order to keep up appearances. There are too many other couples like us who need to know that–like I told our Sugarplum–in relationships, sometimes things hurt for a while before they heal. And yes, I know all my feminist girlfriends are side-eyeing me right now but that’s okay. I’m old enough to know that good, long-lasting relationships are often crafted in the hard places. The sharpening of our characters and all that jazz.
And I suppose I could get all mystical and religious about it too. I could start talking about how the number 7 in biblical numerology means completion and maybe God needed us to complete a cycle or season of character building. As “deep” as that is, I’m not sure if that gets to the real heart of the matter. I think people use that kind of stuff sometimes as a way to mask their reality. I don’t want to do that. Of course, the whole 7 years completion thing could very well be true but honestly, I’m not sure what that means for today. This moment. And all the moments that have come before where we have not been good to each other–and the scars that have resulted.
Here’s what I do know though: I love you.
Is that love real? Yes.
Is it the same love I felt on August 23, 2008 when we stood before God and family and made a covenant with each other? No.
But I’m not quite sure it’s supposed to be either.
The love I feel today is one of my choosing. It’s a commitment to hang on even in those “he has one more time” moments when–real talk–I want to pack my ish and “do better by my damn self.”
It’s a commitment to look into the face of K and know that she is just as much you as she is me and the pure, unconditional love she has for her Daddy is worth protecting somehow.
It’s a commitment to be fully me but, as I’m realizing today, it’s also a commitment to allow you to be fully you.
(Also not an easy thing for me.)
I suppose that it’s only when I come to terms with both–who I really am and who you really are–and accept that there is absolutely nothing I can do to change either truths, that I leave room for God to do an amazing work in both us. I want to do that. I want to get out of the way so God can truly heal the wounds in our relationships–the ones we brought to it and the wounds we’ve inflicted on each other while together. So many people, in an effort to offer advice, will say to us, “Go back to the beginning. Go back to the first day.” And I do understand what they mean. But I don’t think that’s the right thing for us. For us, God must do a new thing. We don’t need to “go back.” We need to start from today.
Like some wives, I could run down a detailed list of your gaps and flaws as I’m sure you could do the same. We could ramble on about all the whys and why nots regarding how we ended up here but I’m not sure what purpose that would serve. At the end of the day, there are some core things I know without any doubt.
You are a good man with a beautiful heart.
You love our daughter.
You love me.
Does that love look the way I’d always like it to? No.
Do I recognize it? Yes.
And in recognizing it, I also must come to terms with the ways in which I’ve hurt you.
Forgive me, Bay, for my doubt and disrespect. Forgive me for my harsh and cutting words that I’ve wielded under the guise of telling the truth. The bible says that death and life is in the power of the tongue and I do know that I’ve killed your spirit way too many times out of my own pain, frustration, and heartbreak.
There’s no solution found in doing that. And when I do it, in my head, the Holy Spirit sounds much like the Geico lady in this regard:
“That’s not how this works, Tracey. That’s not how any of this works.” 🙂
If I’m honest, I don’t know what happens next. I can’t see that far ahead. And I suspect that’s where God wants me right now. It’s where He wants us. Focused on the present. Being present with each other. Allowing Him to be present with us.
He is here. That much I know for sure.
So today, on our anniversary, I give you all I have right now: my hope.