It was a hard weekend around here, y’all. The kind with words and no words and angry looks and silence and spaces and no grace where grace was needed. The kind with jumbled up messes and feelings and hurting hearts. There was a lot of this…
and too much of this…
and not enough of this.
Dan and I are usually really easy with one another. It’s the kind of easy that comes after 26 years of marriage and four children and a bunch of puppies and 12 years overseas and international moves and language school (!) and all of the experiences of life. Our marriage is our safe space–we learned long ago to protect it from outside influences and make sure that it’s just the three of us in this dance–us and Jesus.
There’s a lot battering us right now. Feelings of inadequacy. Lack of fulfillment. Frustration. Anxiety. Fear. Sometimes it’s too much. It’s just all too much. There’s too much silence and not enough reassuring and not enough loving and not enough us.
Not enough us.
Yesterday we sat side-by-side in church. You’ve done the sit–the one where you are right there, but there’s no easy touch, no arm around the shoulders, no reaching for the hand during worship or the gentle touch of reassurance during prayer. We took a lot of baggage with us–I’m actually surprised that there was room for us in the row because we brought so much junk.
Then there was the sermon.
Y’all, I swear that we were not sitting in a room with 1000 other people. Nope. It was just us and the pastor was talking directly to us and it was right there. In our faces. We couldn’t ignore it or walk away from it or look away and pretend. It was right there.
The drive home was silent–each of us digesting what had just been thrown at us in our own way. Not wanting to open the door that needed to–had to–be opened if things were going to get better. We had to stop and pick up our van from our son’s house–it had been there over the weekend because Dan rode up to our daughter’s with them on Saturday. We each needed the 15 minutes that it took to drive home from there separately.
When we got home, there was a glaring problem facing us. The day before our washing machine had stopped working properly. We don’t have the money to buy a new one (and honestly, it’s not that old so buying a new one would be impractical). We waded into the mess, knowing that we needed to figure out the problem and get it fixed.
Dan doesn’t like messing with stuff like this. It’s frustrating for him. And I’m kind of a dunce when it comes to electrical stuff. I once replaced all of the sockets in our house without turning off the main power–Dan was at work and just about had a heart attack when he got home. Probably the only reason I didn’t get a good zapping was that the electricity in our house in Ecuador was so bad that there wasn’t much juice to begin with.
Nevertheless, we grabbed our iPad and started trying to figure out what the problem was. We started with the worst case scenario–the drain pump. After tearing apart the entire machine we discovered that the pump was fine.
Checked the transmission. All good.
When you start with the very worst thing, and try to work backward, you discover that you’ve got yourself so worked up that you aren’t able to think clearly. It would have been far better for us to start with the easiest and most likely issue–a broken switch. Which is what it was. A simple rewiring fixed the problem.
This is life, friends. Assuming the worst and hoping for the best isn’t Biblical…and yet it’s how I’ve lived most of my life.
As we waded through the washing machine issue, I noticed that the tension between us was lifting. A little bit of joking. A quick kiss when we figured out the issue. A smile. Grace.
Grace for a husband who doesn’t like doing things like that…but did. Who took it apart and fixed it and cleaned up the mess (It happened to be full of water when it quit working, because of COURSE it was) that came with getting the problem out into the open.
Grace for a wife who automatically assumes the very worst about any situation that comes her way and shuts down completely, leaving him to try and pry open the door or window or crawl over the wall that has been building around her heart and mind for…ever.
Yesterday afternoon was full of hard talking and tears and frustration…and grace. Grace enough to open the doors and expose the problem. Grace enough to take the hand.
We are very different people, Dan and I. He’s a “Here’s the problem. We need to work on the problem and find a solution and fix it” kind of guy. I just shut down. I don’t talk. I don’t eat. I don’t sleep (OK, I don’t sleep anyway, but I don’t sleep more when I’m stressed). Our communication styles are very different, and even after 26 years we find ourselves having to reassess and figure out how to make things better.
Marriage takes an abundance of grace. Recognizing that the other person isn’t wrong–just different. Remembering that you are both created by a loving Father with gifts and talents…and that your human side brings baggage and anger and frustration and shut downs and all manner of things not Biblical.
The words are there again. The rest will come.
We needed grace this weekend.
Who knew grace could be found in a washing machine.