Monday, May 14, 2012

Some better gifts

Each day that passes, there will be some invisible storm and invisible miracle 
waiting to reveal themselves. 
Some days both may appear at once, in one. 
The world lets itself in, without invitation. 
I am still learning to accept, to feed myself in every sense, 
always imperfect, but eyes open, hungry for the color everywhere.
~ Amy Grace, A Beautiful Life Photo

I've been getting a lot of the "How's married life?" question, understandably, and for a moment, it trips me up on how to respond.   Only because there are so many layers to that answer, and I mentally calculate with each questioner - based on the intimacy of our relationship, the context we're in, how the question was asked, how much time we have - how many layers I will divulge.  My blog, however, is a whole other story.  Here I am free to practice authenticity - with discretion and taste, vulnerability and transparency - regardless of the audience.  Long ago I chose to be this type of writer, figuring my readers could discern for themselves how much they'd like to read.  

Returning to the original question on married life, my hesitation has nothing to do with a desire to reveal  private details about my marriage or whether or not I'm happily married for that matter.   No, it's a larger, more spiritual struggle, and one I'm well acquainted with: What to do when my life story doesn't pan out according to my expectations.  Boiled down to it's simplest form - Do I trust God to orchestrate my life better than I could?  In theory, the answer is yes.  In practice, it's exceedingly more difficult.

Hmmm, so how's married life?  Well, for starters, I adore my husband and I enjoying learning new things about him each day.  I'm trying to relax and appreciate this unique opportunity to be doted on.  Really, waited on hand and foot.  You'd think I'd be basking in this luxury (and I'm told this especially by my mother friends with some envy in their voices), but it's quite the opposite.  I'm still a do-er.  I like to relax when it's within my control and under my own conditions; forced relaxation, however, is not so easy.  While Ricardo brings me breakfast, often lunch, and dinner, fetches my water, cleans the kitchen, does the laundry, chauffeurs me around, carries my things, and if he has any time left in the day, attempts to sort through the wreck that is our apartment, I sit restlessly in bed, trying to contain my frustration that I can't help out.  At least now I can bathe myself, quite well actually.  For the first few days after surgery, I couldn't even get out of bed on my own without crying in pain.  I can hop around on one leg for awhile, cleaning the kitchen, carrying a few items to and fro, doing laundry and such - but only until my toes turn purple.  Then it's back to elevating in bed.  

That's one level of expectation that is not what I had in mind.  And then, there's one a bit messier.  Our "honeymoon" period, loosely speaking, has not been what I bargained for.  Instead of romantic swims on the beaches of Kauai, suntanned and beachy beautiful, enjoying our cozy cottage just feet from the water, we've gotten a good taste of marriage when it's not romantic and fun.  After just two week of marriage, my husband has seen me through surgery, on major painkillers, on the floor of the bathroom vomiting, unshowered for days and unable to do my hair, crying from pain, crying from discouragement, sick in my whole body, and all the emotional and relational side effects that come with that.  

For better or for worse.  In sickness and in health.  

My emotions protest and whine, this is not fun, wrestling negative thoughts.  But below my emotions, my heart knows better.  There are some precious gifts here, if we accept them.  The gift of being known more fully in the unattractive muck of life circumstances, and still being loved and adored.  The gift of really needing my husband, practically speaking, of seeing him take care of me without complaint, without resentment.  The gift of learning, from the get-go, how to go to God together in prayer and rely on him to take care of us.  We're both realizing how much we need him just to get through each day, how we must depend on him to show us how to really love each other, not in our own strength, but out of his reserves.  Which never empty.  We're learning to trust that he knows how to take care of us financially, when much of our previous "security net"just won't cut it.  I didn't expect to start marriage off feeling financially overwhelmed - not only by the costs of a wedding, but now, the costs of an urgent care trip, specialist visits, medications, surgery, physical therapy, and being out of work for an undetermined period of time.  Two months at the least - most likely three.  Yep, not exactly what either of us had prepared for.

But God knew.  And my faith continues to return me to this point.  None of this catches God by surprise or overwhelms him, and believing that God really does have good plans for us (not harm), there's something we can't see yet that is playing out here.  And haven't I been learning, through death and through life, that so often it's hard to "see" where God is in the moment, when the rubble kicks up dust all around and my spiritual eyesight is impaired by what is swirling around me?  But if I just wait for it, wait patiently in the storm, as the skies clear and time passes, I can look back and see God.   And he is unfailingly magnificent in beauty and power.  

So I am choosing, today, to enjoy these unique gifts of starting off on a new journey with Ricardo - and continuing the adventure that is following God.  It's not always a happy one, but there is always joy to be had.

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