We have been going to marriage counseling for about a year, and I LOVE it. Like, I scheduled a session on my birthday kind of love it. You are probably wondering why we started going, and what I said to myself (and anybody else who asked) was, "We have a good marriage, but I want to have a GREAT marriage. I just don't want to start out our marriage developing bad habits towards each other." That was most of the story, but the other part was that we fought and when we did it was vehemently. Jeremiah could (and still can) bring out an anger in me that is violent. Like, literally I have hit and scratched my husband in states of rage. Does anybody else have a picture in their mind of a cat, flying through the air, with its hair on end :)?
So, I was worried that marriage was turning me into a psychopath, and I wanted to find out why it was that this man I loved more than anybody else, could also send me into these flying rages. Hence you find us in front of Gordon. This man is so godly and so wise and just has the discernment of the Holy Spirit coming out of him all over the place. I don't think I've ever been to see him that he hasn't pulled out his Bible, because everything he teaches stems from the Word. He has taught me way more than one (or ten) posts could hold, but there are two main things that I would like to share. First being, that we are headed for beauty and not destruction in our marriage. I think that a lot of that anger I had was my old type-A personality trying to take control of our marriage--wrap my fingers around it and mold it into what I thought it was supposed to be. If I saw Jeremiah doing something, big or small, that I thought would develop over time into something horrible, I felt the need to hunker down and nip it in the bud. "Oh NO!, You think you can tell me you're going to exercise for 45 minutes and then come back 2 hours later? If I accept this now, just think, in a couple years you'll be working out for four hours--leaving me here by myself to cook dinner and manage both girls--and think of all the other areas you'll start taking advantage of me in if I let this one slip by!" You can see where that mind-set would be exhausting for both of us, and Jeremiah was beginning to think he'd married someone who was perpetually going to blow everything out of proportion. What Gordon has finally helped me understand is that, as Christians, we are becoming MORE like Christ as our walk continues--not LESS. Why then would Jeremiah, who I believe is seeking to be more like Christ, be treating me worse in the future than he does today?
The second lesson (and I don't think I am ever going to get around to what I actually planned to blog about this morning) is the "Tootsie Pop." I like illustrations. They stay in my mind a lot better than words, and when you're in the midst of a fight, you need something that can pop up there easily, because things are sure muddled. Gordon says that, when we first get married, we we are like two Tootsie Pops with a hard outer shell and soft chocolate middle. He says that it takes years of banging those two suckers together (which we were doing quite effectively :)) in order to get to that soft inside where we could mesh together. When he told me that it was normal, this fighting, and assured me through his great experience that it was leading to something magnificent (I feel I should point out here that my physical violence is not OK, and we all were aware of that need for change in me) it was like a weight was lifted off my back.
I felt the need to explain those things so that the rest of this blog would make sense...Couples who have been married a long time usually say things like, "It just keeps getting sweeter." or "We just know each other so well, that it's like we're the same person." These things sound good enough, but for some reason they horrified me. When I listened to them talk, it sounded like the passion had subsided into a friendship, and while I didn't like violence in our own relationship, I do enjoy the passion. It felt to me like our whole relationship was bright red, but I wasn't sure I would exchange the red for blue. Do you know what I mean?
For the last few months, I've been coming to Jeremiah saying, "Things just feel good. I can't really explain it, but I feel so much closer to you." I am not sure if he really feels this too, or if he is just so thankful that I'm not coming to him with the nebulous, "Something just doesn't feel right between us," but no matter the reason, he heartily agrees. Yesterday, when I was sitting in church I suddenly remembered Gordon's Tootsie Pop illustration and I almost shouted for joy in the middle of the sermon...I am nervous to say it, but I think we may finally have knocked off enough of that hard shell that we are beginning to really mesh our chocolate together. It's not that we don't fight anymore, but when we do, I am able to look at him and think, "He may not be showing me that he loves me right this second, but I believe that he does love me. I believe that partially because he is still standing there, willing to work on our marriage even after years of my craziness and partially because I know that Jesus is in there transforming him (and me)." I no longer feel the need to stay mad for the day so that he is adequately "punished" for whatever injustice I feel I've been dealt. The best way to express it, is just like Gordon said, I feel like we're finally together, on the same team, working together towards a beauty that we both desire.
I feel like our relationship has turned from bright red to deep purple. Purple is (I think, I am no art major) an extremely deep and passionate red, with a little blue serenity mixed in. It used to feel like we both had something to prove in every area of our marriage, and it was turning us red. Now, it feels like we've accepted where we both stand, and we've been able to mix in some greatly needed blue. I feel like (in my GREAT five years of experience) I can understand what those women were trying to express when they would tell me that things keep getting sweeter. You don't have to lose passion, it just means you don't have to prove yourself any longer. And y'all, it excites me to think that if it feels this great after only five years, what is it going to feel like when we finish meshing this Tootsie Pop together?
And now, to make a long post even longer, can I make the final point that I've been wanting to reach? If we know marriage is a picture of our relationship with Christ, then I'd like to take that Tootsie Pop analogy one step farther. The first part of my life, I felt a lot like a bright red Tootsie Pop. It's not that I didn't have my tangy little issues, but I must say things on the whole felt pretty bright and shiny. I feel like God loved me enough to say, "There's more of you I need to get to. There's a chocolate layer under this bright, red, shiny stuff that you're going to have to let me touch if we're ever going to have the relationship I created you to share with me." Then, mainly through losing Mom, he allowed me to get banged up pretty bad, and I am here to admit to you that if I could have gotten a hold of Him, I probably would have beat on his chest just like I have on Jeremiah's...maybe harder. But today, at this moment in my life, I find myself going to Him, just like I've been going to Jeremiah and saying, "Things just feel good. I can't really explain it, but somehow I feel so much closer to you."
It's like I've got a huge magnet in my heart, and every time someone mentions His name, it feels like another magnet calls mine to attention, pointing north with all its might, and saying, "Are you talking about my friend Jesus?" Because, while I never would have asked to go through the pain of having all the bright and shinies knocked off my sucker, it has led me to a place where my heart has begun to mesh with His. Our relationship has turned a deep shade of purple. I understand Him in a way I couldn't have before, and part of that love is due to the fact that even after all our fights, He's still standing right here beside me. More real and present than ever, working through this relationship with me, and proving to me that He thinks it's worth it. It wasn't through the good times that I was able to find this sweetness in either relationship. It was through the hard times...Thank you both for still standing and believing it was worth the fights in order to get to the real heart of me.