I have not been fully present in my marriage as of late. I have not wanted to deal with this reality and have even blamed circumstances and Jason. Some of our current circumstances are legit in creating some tension like moving around so much and not having a normal or any stability and family alone time. Add in having a new baby and preparing to return to Africa in a few weeks….yikes! But that is not it. I have sensed a growing antagonism towards J and even though I would try to stop it was like vomit of nastiness just came out. No yelling or screaming but a growing quiet rage in my heart and although I tried to silence it I could not and came out in destructive comments, silence, or distance. I finally put aside my pride and came to him to ask for forgiveness. That is huge, not just for me but I think for most people. But it shouldn’t be because at the heart of the message of Jesus is forgiveness freely offered and I know that amazing forgiveness. J has always freely forgiven me as well as He draws on His relationship with Jesus. And I am grateful. The crazy part is there is nothing I am really upset about, just sort of a culmination of my life right now. After some head scratching I have come to the realization that this phase of life has given me little time to think, to be alone, to have any space (physical or emotional). This really has little to do with Jason but as is often true he is affected and since he is such a part of my life my emotional stress spills out on him. I should not be surprised by this. Sort of like shaking a can of diet coke and then opening it in close proximity to someone else and then being shocked that they are soaked. Yep, he is covered in my emotional spit up. The brutal truth is I want things from J that I am not willing to expect from myself like complete selflessness. Unpacking my feelings is not easy and I am searching myself to try to find the root, the cause, the triggers, and some of the sin within.
I think somewhere in me there is resentment that I was so sick, that I got fat and now will spend a long time trying to get some semblance of my body back, that I cannot go anywhere for more than 2 hours without a baby in tow, that although these are our children the reality is much of caring for this baby and Anni falls on me. Jason is a great father. Amazing. But that is just the way it is, the way my body is designed and even though I feel exhausted some days I would not have it any other way. But there still exists a dichotomy. Everything for me is changed and sometimes I feel it is drastically changed beyond recognition. I know this stage will pass and ironically I know I will even miss these sweet moments when the girls are little but I want to hold onto me. Another Mom said that when you have small kids the days are long but the years are short. That is sage wisdom and very true in my experience. I feel like Anni was a baby yesterday but vividly remember many days of staring at the clock and not believing it was only 6pm. The rub is that I desperately miss my career some days but I would not want to be anywhere else but with my girls and when I become too busy with outside things I miss them. That which is outside the home calls to me but I want to be involved in everything within the home as well. I struggle because I want to be the me of teaching, empowering others, helping to fight for social justice or even much less enlightened things like watching TV, reading a book, or working out. Who am I kidding some days I just want to pee without Anni needing something or Evy crying for me. Even in Africa I struggle because I want to do more, to be more involved in aspects of planning and building our school, to be hard core in learning the language but my primary ministry is my family, raising my kids to know and love God. And to be honest I think most days that is a harder job. Because it involves many quiet moments of choosing to love, choosing to teach, choosing to have grace with them and with myself. I think women today have been sold a false bill of sale today believing we can have everything. I do not think you can. We must give up some things and make tough choices. I hope that my girls never doubt my love for them because sometimes I feel torn because this tension is molding me and making me into more of the woman God wants me to be.
I love being a mama, to see Evy smile for the first time, watching Anni spell and sing ridiculous songs. I love being entrusted to love and raise them, to see their reaction to the world around them, to help them discover and develop their gifts, and help shape their world view. I love that when they are hurt or sad or happy or joyful there is no one else in the world they want to be with more than me. I pray that they will forgive me for the mistakes I make and love me for the imperfect Mama I am and that Jason will continue to forgive me as I discover and deal with all the change as we grow.
Marriage is work. I guess to some that is unromantic but it is true. At least a good marriage, a Biblical marriage is about laying down, opening up, being vulnerable, and being willing to be transformed. I think you learn more about yourself in the context of relationships and marriage is the ultimate mirror to all your shortcomings. You can hold your position or be willing to be changed and allow your heart to be softened. You can be right or you can be understood. Jason is a man who seeks to glorify God and I am blessed to be married to him. We still are fallen and very different and we hurt each other. When we got married we were still kids and we have in many ways grown up together. We have changed, grown apart, grown together, changed jobs, had children, moved overseas, built a family and in all that we are still learning about what marriage and family looks like for us, what we need and want from each other and from our family. There are seasons in marriage and this season is not the time for long moonlit walks and romantic dinners out and let’s face it if I had a night to myself I would take a bath and SLEEP! but in all seasons we need to stay connected and communicate, to seek to understand each other, to chose grace, and to love. Instead of allowing resentment to build I need to ask for what I need and first spend time in prayer and reflection figuring out what that is. I also cannot expect Jason to do something only God or I can do for me. Like give me peace about my role, about the changes in my life, about me. Real intimacy is work but it is sooo worth it. Family is work too. Both mean self sacrifice, forgiveness, love, respect, and grace. But the rewards are huge. Even as I type Evy is sleeping peacefully in my arms and Anni is leaning against my legs and laughing while she watches Dora. A stolen quiet moment to reflect. And life is good.
I long for more time as a couple right now but the day will come when our kids are busy with their own lives and we will miss them desperately. While my days right now are filled with sippy cups and spit up I know the day will soon come when I will long for these little girl giggles and sweet baby smiles.
My challenge is to cherish the days as they come, not as I want them to be, or as they will be someday. That and deal with the spit up as it comes…..