I’ve been without words, almost mute, for most of the last few months. Life changes I hadn’t seen coming knocked the wind out of me, and I’m still short of breath, trying to make sense of the misunderstandings, the buried resentments, and straining to imagine a future where things don’t hurt as much between my husband and me.
The changes have exposed the complicated knots that have formed over the last decade of marriage from the lack of communication and effort in knowing one another, and I stand in a puddle — no, a sea — of bitterness and rage, anger and unforgiveness, resentment and a faltering faith that things will get better.
Hurts have piled upon hurts, misunderstandings upon assumptions, angry words upon deafening silence, and the mountain of pain seems insurmountable. How do two people so different from one another make it work? How do they find a way through the tangle of differences that personality, family backgrounds, communication styles, and love languages create?
I’m desperate to be known, to be heard, to have the burden shared, but I know it’s not easy for others to enter into pain. I see the discomfort on my friends’ faces when I open the door to my unending crisis. I see them looking around at the mess, and they’re not sure what to say. They try to offer suggestions for why it might be. They try to help me see my husband for the good man he is, even though I know he still is. They try to help me get to a place of resolution, asking pertinent, helpful — though tiring — questions.
They want me to get to a good place again, for things to settle down quickly, for the crisis to be over.
The burden can feel like too much and unresolved tensions can be too heavy to bear. So, I close the door to my mess, letting them off the hook of holding me, of making space and sitting with me in my pain. I ease their discomfort by saying, “Yeah, it’s hard, but it’ll get better.” It’s an honest enough statement, and it leaves them with hope for us as a couple whether or not that’s what I feel.
I see the instant relief as they relax into different topics. They want to care and be there for me, but they also seem glad the moment has passed, that I’ve closed up the conversation for them.
The vulnerability hangover afterwards and the weight of holding everyone else’s discomfort makes me want to find a little corner and curl up like a child. I pull a blanket of silence around me, and in this quiet place, I wrestle with God, with the gospel. I get wrecked over and over again by the extravagant love He’s shown me, and I long for the new life He can bring from death.
But verses like Ephesians 4:31-32 come to mind, and the words ring in my head, making me dizzy with how I am to obey these verses when I’m where I’m at, when I have every right to feel these things.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
The question is: How do I get there exactly? How do I get rid of it all? How do I become like Christ, loving and forgiving as He did? Is there any room, any grace, for the time it takes to get there?
I feel the pressure to get to the end of this crisis. The assumption is that since I am aware of my bitterness and anger I should get rid of all those negative feelings immediately and tether myself to the silver lining.
I wish it were so easy. I wish the years of hurt could be touched and healed by God with the zap of a lightning bolt. I wish I could labor through the pain with an epidural and come to a place of relief as quickly as others around me want me to. But is resurrection even possible when what needs to die hasn’t finished dying yet?
The dying that’s happening in our marriage is a slow death. Like the browning and falling of leaves in autumn, there’s a process to the dying, and it will not be rushed. Everything that has been is being put through the fire, and what needs to die must die for new life to eventually be brought forth.
We will hopefully get to that place where this hard season will taper, and we can say with confidence that we’ve moved forward, but for now, we’re coming apart and being put back together like a caterpillar in a cocoon. A complete disintegrating and reordering must happen in order for the caterpillar to become a butterfly, and likewise, we are on the path to dying to who we once were and to the unhealthy patterns we once had. And is this not the way of Christ? Dying is part of life in Him. It was the way He chose to bridge the gap between us, the way He chose to love us.
He understands this way of death and the process of becoming, and so, even as I sit in my sea of bitterness and pain, there is grace here as well — grace for all of us who bear scars from the hurts caused in marriage, who are sore from the rawness of unexpected transitions, who hold the grief that comes along with change. There is grace enough, even for the time it takes to get to the end.
There is grace enough -- for the hurts caused in marriage, for the unexpected changes that bring along grief, for the time it takes to get to hope again. -@gracepcho: Click To Tweet