Statistics say we should probably call it quits.
Statistics say it’s risky to love without loss.
Life says there will be death.
But the life we believe,
meets Life everlasting.
I’m sitting in starbucks and there’s a couple laying it out on the table.
Drawing the fragile lines and boundaries for their coming divorce.
With pen and paper and trigger words.
There’s bitterness in her voice,
I’ve known bitterness too.
I’m trying not to look, but it’s hard not to.
He’s avoiding eye contact with her.
Baseball cap on, jacket zippered as high as it will go.
He’s so sad.
I’ve made Jeff sad before,
I’ve seen those tired lines by his eyes.
Settling on cars and numbers and time frames and him.
Who, there son?
I listen a little longer, is eavesdropping a sin or just rude?
I wish I had cotton balls for my ears because soaking worship can’t drown this out.
Can it be salvaged?
I feel that lodge rising in my throat, that I’ve felt for us.
Wanting to help, wanting to just budge in
To whisper the things that were whispered to us.
Did they promise never to say the D word too?
They’re getting up now, she turns to the table behind her.
Directly to my right. a boy on his ipad.
Him who I’ve also been watching,
Reminding me of one of my former students.
With autism and the brightest eyes,
And life at his fingertips.
Or in this case now, I see,
Are those fingers just gripping what’s left of what made him?
Is that smile forcing down the D word
on the tip of all of their tongues?
I choked back tears and prayed.
It’s all God in my eyes right now.
I know that there is a time and a place and a God–freeing yes in that word
And I’m not here to talk about divorce or to decide when it’s just.
Instead I feel shoved to talk about
the thing at the helm of it all.
This morning I was reminded of
just how severed
the covenant of marriage has become.
Fellow graduates, colleagues, parents of my students, friends of friends of friends
Writing an ending to that story.
I think back to our I Do’s
We were babies, even then.
Even with all that we had gone through.
We entered marriage with honesty and transparency to the point that people said
what are you doing?
To the point that those we loved questioned
the rightness of one another for eachother.
We didn’t shove our dirty laundry in the closet,
we left it on the floor and hung it high to dry.
We called victory in Jesus and
Saw signs in hot air balloons rising high over highways.
I called him my bearded man,
He called me his golden girl,
And we promised to death.
That part, the with Jesus part, is
the only thing
steering us North.
We’ve been together six years, married almost four.
Some days it feels like yesterday kissing on State Street,
the smell of Arby’s filling the car.
But on the hard days, or in the hard months on end
(because the hard does come),
those times feel painfully slow.
Like watching a broken faucet,
drip drip dripping,
just to fill each other’s cups.
In those times we give, respond, take, see, pray, mend, forgive, breathe a lot slower.
We act stupidly selfish.
We’ve tried to run away, sometimes actually.
But like a little kid running away, we never get too far and
Father always finds us
and hightails our ass back home.
When I find myself on bathroom floors I know what’s coming to pick my head up off the floor, to lift my hands off the cold ground.
Guys, it’s not Jeff.
Sometimes it is, but he has his own bathroom floor too. It just looks like drowning out to the sound of the news or diving into cleaning dishes cause he’s a living saint.
But with Jesus.
Saying marriage is hard is not a woe is me act.
Measuring the hard in another story is not your job.
But naming hard can be a saving grace measure because it forces you outside of yourself. Outside of each other.
Again I saw all the oppresions that are done under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them. And I thought the dead who are already dead, happier than the living who are still alive. But better than both is he who has not yet been born and has not yet seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun. Then I saw that all toil and all skill spring from one’s envy of another. This also is meaningless and a chasing after wind. The fool folds his hands and ruins himself. Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind. Again, I saw something meaningless under the sun; one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, ‘For whom am I toiling and why am depriving myself of enjoyment?’ This also is meaningless and unhappy business. Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves–
a strand of three chords is not easily broken.
Life life life.
An eating disorder feeding body image
Anxiety rising in our chest and sowing in our hearts
Lies breaking trust bones
And dysfunction within family
Vision skewed by cultural standards
And realigning ours for Christ
Missing what was and finding peace in what is
Disagreements and flesh wounds
Clashing dreams and financial hits
Fear of illness taking over
Proximity and personality inhibiting relationship
Intimacy stolen by the past
And bleeding, different hearts
Needing salve or
Bleeding quietly as a woman
When our inbetween met Jesus
Sitting quietly on bathroom floors,
His hard to understand removing him from knowing
Feeling like strangers
Stuffing feelings with routine
Sacrifice meeting self meeting sacrifice
And grief begging for open hands that have been shut and hardened.
My hard, our hard, might look different than yours.
Our wrinkles and brittle limbs
Our tears and bitter roots needing cut
Our apathy and discontenment
Our fight when life throws rocks instead of honey
might rub yours the wrong way.
Or they might free yours to breath a little more.
Life is lonely alone.
Life is better with him.
But life isn’t fixed with him.
Along with the good, it means glued together by the meloncholy proofs that life dishes up misery and choices and disease and division and decisions.
So when the D word has been on the tip of our tongues,
when apart sounds easier than together,
when the unknown of what’s coming for us is scary,
I repeat what others have whispered to me.
Three strand chord.
I have a God who knows me more intimately than Jeff ever will.
Who knows me more intimately than I know myself.
There is freedom in that.
We can’t be broken with that.
With a lot of give and take.
With naming the hard.
With turning towards each other, instead of away.
With communicating clearly.
With holding up our dirty laundry.
With eye contact.
With I love you, even still.
With grace dripping from the faucet.
With one holding strength when the other can’t
With muscle power from the Word.
With forgiveness, and then some more.
With choosing a fluid life,
With loving our babies wholly.
With benefit of the doubt.
With embracing the change,
And undressing in shadows of light.
With front porch living and laborsome love
and always, always a
hand out to cross the streets together.
I love you, Jeff.
I choose Jesus,
and I’ll always choose you.