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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Should I Fall Behind, Will You Wait for Me?

Post Valentine's Day sappiness has my mind swirling and my fingers itching to write truth.  This condition has brought me to the free WiFi at Panera with an urgent need to keep it real here at The View Behind Home Plate and then to offer you a song from The Boss.  Huh?

Stay with me.

I go back and forth on Valentine's Day.  I think it's a beautiful thing that somebody just made up a day to celebrate love and relationships.  I also think it's a really annoying and manipulative thing.  Looking at Facebook and Instagram I noticed not only my own declaration of love for my Valentine, but lots of other professions of love, photos of flowers and candy and lots of red and pink and gushing.  It kind of makes me swoon and gag all at the same time.

Looking back over my posts in the last few weeks, perhaps all that Valentineness got to me because I noticed that I featured some glowing love and admiration about my marriage and my man.  About how I'm so lucky he puts up with me.  About his patience and his humor and all that good stuff.  And I'm not lying.  All the things I say about him and us are true . . .most days.  I do think we have a good marriage.  For example, when we saw Lincoln a few weeks ago when I was whispering questions to him to clarify all the gaps in my Civil War knowledge, he would whisper back all the answers.  And though he didn't technically ask me, I was able to whisper to him that the guy playing the Vice President of the Confederacy was the same guy who played Kelly in Bad New Bears.  Teamwork at its finest.

I'm not painting a fictional picture.  But perhaps I'm painting only part of the picture.  Maybe I'm painting the bright colors and not the muted, background colors.  In this blog, I can pick and choose what I want to share, but I have a responsibility to my family to be careful.  I can throw myself under the bus all day long, but I don't have that right with my people.

Still, truth and purpose have become very important here.  I have seen too many people twist truth with a manipulative and deceitful purpose in mind or even just in the name of denial.  One of the purposes of this blog is for my children to understand something significant and truthful of our life, about the lives of their parents, about the life we all five share as we grow up together.  I don't want them to go into marriage thinking that it's all laughter and light and Bon Jovi concerts. 

It has also come to my attention that this blog has found some purpose in letting some women (and a handful of men) know that we're all more alike than we are different.  If you can't take something relatable from this blog as a mother, as a woman, as a spouse or simply as a human being walking along with all the other human beings on God's Earth, then what's the point?

So here's some truth:

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I were asked to participate in a interview on relationships at church.  We were one of a number of married couples asked to share some thoughts on our beginnings and what we had learned along the way.  The idea was sort of like the final scenes of When Harry Met Sally and our interview was to be videotaped and shown to the congregation as part of a sermon series in the next couple of weeks.

I was honored and flattered and a little nervous that we were approached, but I thought we were a pretty solid couple and we could handle it.  Ahem.

The night before the interview a little bump in the bliss happened here.  The smoke alarm went off in the house.  It was a battery issue.  It was 3:30 am.  It was just a tad cranky in our home, sweet home.  Let's just say that we were not our best selves at 3:30 am listening to incessant beeping and looking for batteries.  There were words and hurt feelings and pouting and snappiness.  After the beeping stopped, I took my hurt feelings and my pouty self and stared at the ceiling telling myself that we just weren't up to this relationship interview.  Who did we think we were saying "yes" to that request?  We had no business sitting in front of that camera.  I was awake for two hours going back and forth. Should I cancel? Were we just going to be scowling at each other the whole time? Would I be able to come up with a single kind word or encouraging comment? If we did go through with it, did I have enough concealer to cover up the dark circles under my eyes and that zit that I could feel was about to make its film debut on my chin?  I was pretty sure that when we sat down in the church office and the camera starting rolling, we would look very similar to these two:

But, I took a deep breath and I prayed for God to give me rest and give me words.  And He did.  We did fine, I guess.  I'm not sure my words were funny or interesting, but they were true.  He said some nice things, too.  I'm not sure they won't just edit us right out of that videotape.  But we did sit closer together at the worship service afterwards.  And I did I decide that I didn't need to hold on to my hurt or my anger whether it was justified or not.  And yes, the 3:30 am incident was one incident.  But when two people are bound together for 18 years in one house with children, schedules, work and malfunctioning smoke alarms, one-time incidents can pile up.  Anger and resentment and hurt can fester and grow until we don't remember the simple, mundane occasion when they first took root.
Then I thought of THIS SONG: If I Should Fall Behind .  When I heard it the first time, about a year ago, it conjured images of couples walking through very tough, tragic circumstances.  Often when we consider the act of forgiveness we imagine huge indiscretions and mistakes.  When we admire couples who have stood the test of time, we applaud them for working through suffering and disappointment together. 

This is the thing - not for all of us, but for a lot of us.  We have been blessed to not have had terribly difficult circumstances befall our marriage.  We haven't faced abuse or betrayal.  We haven't suffered the trials that accompany employment loss or illness.  We haven't ever discussed separation or even spent more than a day or so being angry.  But we do - the both of us - fall behind.  We can disappoint each other.  We can dismiss each other's feelings.  We can be too quick to anger and too slow to grace.  We can be impatient and nagging and snappy.

Our marriage is good, but it is not perfect. I think it's like a lot of marriages.  I don't know how to give advice on marriage, especially those that are suffering very serious challenges.  I just know that in my own relationship, I will fall behind.  And so will he.  I know that I will lose my way and so will he.  Perhaps we aren't suffering a huge blow to our marriage that causes us to fall so far behind that a common walkway seems miles away.  We might be suffering only those little mundane annoyances that cause us to take a few steps back here or there.

I think that what God wants us to do is to be aware that those little steps back can add up.  If one of our hands should slip away, if one of us should fall behind, He wants the other to wait.  And in the waiting, we must work really hard to find the grace and forgiveness that welcomes the other back in stride.  Somedays it is easier than others.  Somedays and for some couples it might get to the point that it becomes practically impossible. If we don't want to get to that point, perhaps we have to practice.  We drive our kids all over town to practice shooting baskets and running bases and swinging clubs and bats.  We have to practice in our relationships, too.  Practice doesn't make perfect, but maybe it will help one of us not fall too far behind the next time.  And maybe it will help the other not have to wait so long for our love to catch up, so that we can walk forward together again.

PS.  If you didn't listen to the link, HERE IT IS AGAIN.  When Steve and I were first dating I told him that I wasn't all that big of a Springsteen fan.  I think he almost pulled the car over and told me to get out.  I'm a fan of this song.  Big fan.  Huge.

PPS.  Oh, and I picked the one with Italian subtitles because I'm very worldly and sophisticated like that.  Unless, that's not Italian.  Then, I'm just a moron.  You can be the judge.

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