Good Friday morning ...
I sat dejected on the padded bench in our bedroom ... my head hanging low, a scowl on my face, my mind a tangle of twisted, ungodly thoughts. I sat there for what must have been twenty minutes when the door opened and in walked my wife. She saw my continence and she knew.
"I can't do this!" I said. "I can't do it!. I can't do it! I can't do it!"
She walked over to the bench, sat next to me, put her hand on my back and said, "I hate to see you going through this!"
We sat there for several quiet minutes when she said, "Honey, you're on a journey and God's doing a work in you."
Simple words, yet they provided me a glimmer of hope, for if indeed I was on a jounrey, then at some point it would come to an end. And it did.
At that moment, my wife was the strong one among us. It takes tremendous strength to make a marriage work. Of course, I'm not talking about physical strength, but that inner fortitude kind of strength, that determination, that will power to pull and push and yank and tug ... whatever it takes ... to get through or over a problem.
Most times I was the strong one, the one with the confident smile, the perky attitude, the we-can-get-through-this mind-set. I was the one doing the tough pulling and tugging, making sure eveyone else in the family was OK, while not always caring for myself.
But there were times when I was too drained, too exhausted, too pained from some real or imagined crisis, that I didn't have the strength to be strong or confident or perky or positive.
And there she would come, most often just a quiet presence, but sometimes a soft-spoken word or, on occasion, a reprimand. Most times a hug or a sit-down-beside me or a snuggle ... but always a presence.
Marriage can be like that ... and often is.
A lot of young couples have no idea what a gift they have in each other. They're too busy trying to figure out who should do what, or where to go for Christmas this year, or if they can afford that new car, or how much they can pay for a house. One day some of those frustrated couples are going to be pleasantly surprised when they discover things about their spouse that only time and grace can bring out. That is ... if they have the commitment to weather the storms.
In time, an immature, easily offended husband may end up being the one who shows unconditional forgiveness to his wife. A selfish, demanding wife may grow into a woman who will love her husband as Alzheimer's disease ravages his mind.
Becoming a person like that takes time.
I have learned through fifty years of marriage ... that we've got to give each other a chance ... over and over again ... for our spouse to exceed our expectations and grow into the person we hoped we married however long ago. In doing so, we risk disappointment ... but the only alternative is to give up on each other ... and that's no way to love.
Scripture tells us that love "always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres" ... that real love "never fails" [I Corinthains 13:7]. Real love is truly in it for "better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health." And real love knows there is only one way to discover the good things hidden inside our spouse.
We've got to believe the best ... no matter how long it takes.
Have a great weekend ... recognizing the journey you are on has lots of bumps and bruises ... but with God's good grace and mercy we see our way through to the end.
[The incident above is as I recall it. Sandy's recollection may be slighty different as she remembers the occasion from the perspective of the strong one at that moment.]