23 May 2013

Decisions, decisions

As always when I don't blog regularly, there is a lot that has happened in the meantime so let's just consider I said that and move on :).

As far as school, I passed the Spring semester with all A's and will be starting my two Summer classes next week.  This is the home stretch - two classes this summer and my Capstone this Fall and I will be DONE with this Master's degree.  I'm alternating between "Woohoo!" and "Oh crap, the semester's starting again!".  (My glass is never half-empty or half-full.  It's both :)).

I have also been inducted into two national honor societies and, in a total surprise to which Sara was a witness, was named Student of the Year for my program.  Color me absolutely boggled. 

I have also continued with some of my goals - working on my Master's without killing myself.  Managed to take most weekends off to spend with the Spousal Unit or at home.  We did move to a lovely new apartment that I will post pictures of.  I have also found some Bible-study type books and have been digging into those...which in turn is sending me into the dreaded character growth territory.

I also changed my ringtone to Fat-Bottomed Girls but that's neither here or nor there.  Just hilarious to see people look around when my phone rings :).

Before I get into the rest of this, I want to say these are my thoughts about my own personal marital situation and I'm not advocating a one-size-fits-all mentality.  Everyone needs to seek out God's answers for their own situation.  So (deep breath), here we go:

Our therapist says that the SU and I have reached a crossroads.  In his words, "at the risk of talking myself out of a job", it's time to make a choice.  That choice is either separate or decide that I am okay/resigned to living with what the SU will give me for now and not count on anything changing (although in the therapist's POV, he believes there is potential for change for the better).  In the words of Mutant Enemy:  "Grrrr.  Argh."

This has been and continues to be an incredibly difficult path to walk.  I am very lucky to have a core group of women who have been praying for me and offering counsel or just a shoulder to cry on 'cause, believe you me, I've been doing some crying (and I am someone who hates to cry).  After our session last week, I was pretty darn sure that separation was the next step until I got up the next morning at 5:30 and read Henri Nouwen's Turning My Mourning into Dancing for about two hours before the SU woke up.

One of Nouwen's points about experiencing solitude is that it should be time when you dare to stand alone before God and so, for me, any type of separation should be for that (if that is the route I take) and not just because I want to get away from the SU.  If God is to be at the center of my marriage, I cannot just put him aside for the sake of my own mental and emotional comfort.  To love someone is to be open to suffering (per Nouwen) and there is a need to trust that the risk to love someone is worth it.

Something Nouwen also talked about was how Jesus related to people for *their* sake and not his.  His focus was not on satisfaction but responding to someone's real, deep need.  Over these months of counseling with the SU, I have discovered very deep, unmet needs in my husband that make me grieve; things I had not really known or really thought about beyond the few times he mentioned them.  Do I think there are things he needs to get kicked in the pants on?  Oh,  yes.  But some of those kicked-in-the-pants behaviors are outward expressions of things he has never dealt with or maybe ever been able to deal with.  How can I not at least feel compassion towards those places in my husband that are so wounded?

To do that, though, to stay and wait for God's timing versus my own, versus my own desires and expectations involves a big leap of faith.  I want the fairy tale.  I want the grand gesture and the passionate attempts to change.  But I may not get anything like that and I may not get anything even close to it for a long time.  I may very well be asking for things in a language the SU does not speak. 

"But our lives are renewed every time we trust more.  We take a leap of faith and trust only to see the next layer of possibility" (Nouwen, p. 53).  If I am to trust God, I cannot expect to know the whole plan nor can I expect to use *my* definitions as the end result.  If I take the leap of faith, I can only trust that God will see it and respond.  What is the next layer of possibility?  I don't know.  It may be better communication.  It may be the SU believing more that I love him and I do not have a list of pluses and minuses that I keep tallied up in my head which in turn releases him from some of his bondage.  It may be me learning how to love in the midst of my own discomfort.  It doesn't mean I can't want to know the outcome but it does mean that I don't necessarily know what it will look like nor should I put a label on it because the label immediately brings it back to ME and I start trying to bend things to what I feel the result should be rather than letting God work as he will.  If I try to hard to create the result, I lose my trust.  If I lose trust, I lose hope.

I don't want to do that. 

I need to look beyond my own expectations.  Is the SU where I want him to be?  No.  But God knows where he is.

God also knows where I am.  In his book, The Return of the Prodigal Son , Nouwen talks about Rembrandt's painting of when the prodigal son returns home and he talks about having felt like both sons in the picture.  His words concerning the elder son struck me:

"I came to see how I had lived a quite dutiful life...had always been obedient to my parents, my teachers, my bishops and my God.  I had never run away from home, never wasted my time and money on sensual pursuits, and had never gotten lost in 'debauchery and drunkenness'.  For my entire life, I had been quite responsible, traditional, and homebound.  But with all of that, I may, in fact, have been just as lost as the younger son.  I suddenly saw myself in a completely new way.  I saw my jealousy, my anger, my touchiness, doggedness and sullenness, and most of all, my subtle self-righteousness.  I saw how much of a complainer I was and how much of my thinking and feeling was riddled with resentment...I was the elder son for sure, but just as lost as his younger brother, even though I had stayed 'home' all my life" (Nouwen, p. 20).

He then goes on to talk about a friend of his with whom he shared his view of himself as the eldest son several months later.  His friend said to him, "Whether you are the younger son or the elder son, you  have to realized that you are called to become the father" (Nouwen, p. 22).

If I was to leave the SU now, I am pretty sure no one would fault me.  They would say I have done everything I can reasonably be expected to do.  But is that definition of "reasonable" accurate?  Have I given myself and everything involved with this situation up to God including how I think it should go or does part of me sit in subtle judgment of the SU because he does not conform to expectations, because he does not seem to quickly and obediently respond to the good counsel and advice he has been given over and over by many who care for him?

That's not to say I can't be tired or need to vent or seek counsel.  Trying to live in faith doesn't mean I am superhuman or that it all becomes easy.  Trust me, my inner child is having a tantrum over this.  "But I don't wanna!!"  But two words keep coming back at me:  all in.  They were words I used when the SU asked me why I wasn't mad at God over what happened to our shop. I told him then that the things we lost were just stuff and I had to decide if the stuff was more important or if I was all in for God.  Our pastor used those words in last week's sermon as well.  "All in" means I can't hold back, can't choose what to experience and have to give. up.

That scares the pants off me.  "Waiting is a dry desert between where we are and where we want to be."

Am I called to wait?

"...marriage is foremost a vocation.  Two people are called together to fulfill a mission that God has given them.  Marriage is a spiritual reality.  That is to say, a man and a woman come together for life, not just because they experience deep love for each other, but because they believe that God loves each of them with an infinite love and has called them to each other to be living witnesses of that love.  To love is to embody God's infinite love in a faithful communion with another human being" (Nouwen, Here and Now: Living in the Spirit).

God -

Help me to hear you and your desire for not just myself but my marriage.  Help me to give up my expectations, my desires, my wants, for yours.  Give me strength when I need it but also help me to be weak and rely upon you as well.  Help me love when I feel I cannot or do not want to, to remember that the Spousal Unit is just as much yours as I am.  Give me your heart for him.

Thank you for my husband.  Thank you for the love he has given me and the joy he has brought me.  Help me to remember those times when all I want to do is point out how 'bad' he is and be superior in that.  Let me live in your timeline and not mine and to remember this prayer in the midst of the moment when I most want to lash out.

Help me change from the elder son into the father. 

I want to be all in.