Friday, February 21, 2014

it's supposed to be hard.

Chris and I were having these spats, simple conversations complicated by frustration and rude comments and disagreement about how best to do things.  I would get so furious, simmering and indignant and wounded by slogging through these interactions that should have been simple and easy.  (Foreshadowing: should).  Eventually I sensed the Holy Spirit picking and peeling back the layers of my white-hot rage, and I asked myself, "Why are you so angry?"

"Because it's hard."

Because it makes me despair, seeing our clumsy and half-hearted attempts to merge our lives and desires.  Because it disappoints me every time I see Chris cling to his way of doing things, mostly because I see the same unruly tendency in myself.  Because whenever it gets hard and ugly, I imagine that's not the way it should be.  Because somehow I expected the practice of intimacy and humility and mutuality in our marriage to be more gracious and mature and pretty than it is, and so I find myself becoming angry when we don't do it very well at all, when we're selfish or make assumptions or let sarcasm invade the entire conversation.  I wanted it to be easier somehow, all motivated by sweet, bird-chirping love.

(I won't blame social media for everything, but I have more than a sneaking suspicion that the way relationships are portrayed all around me has contributed to this secret belief that this should all be easier.  Naturally, I'm not asking anyone to post the details of their arguments on Facebook--but I know I create fantasy versions of couples based on their Instagram and Facebook feeds, and it's likely very far from their real lives and actual marriage/relationship).

I wanted the daily choice to be kind and gracious to be made easier by fuzzy feelings of love.  In reality, we usually have to dig deep to find the strength to be the people we want to be, in the kind of marriage we want to have.  We make mistakes every day.  We find it hard to give up our independence and insistence on having things our own way.  It's all so very costly.

I believe the pivotal thought in the midst of all my rambling is this: if I can accept that it's not an easy thing we're trying to do--that a healthy marriage characterized by selfless love and grace and true intimacy is hard for anyone, everyone--then perhaps I won't get so furious when it's hard for us, and we're not doing it very well.

Of course it's hard.  Marriage is sacrificial and humbling and embarrassing; it's full of disappointment and sadness and weariness.  None of this means we're doing it wrong.  By accepting that this thing we're building together is an incredibly complex and difficult organism, I imagine I can let go of some of that burn-me-up rage I experience when I'm disappointed that we've failed one another yet again.

It's supposed to be hard.  (Say it a few times).

Accepting this inherent difficulty may allow me to better get on with the hard work required of me, instead of getting so wound up over the fact that it's not easier or smoother for us.  I can show my husband grace when he fails because I know what it's like to fail.  I can show myself grace when I fail because everyone does.  Marriage (and all relationships) are not effortless or tidy or easy-breezy-beautiful for anyone.

And that is good news.

a slightly cutesy video to go with a slightly hard post.


  1. I appreciate that you consistently volunteer to be transparent (#nofilter) about your struggles in the middle of this insta-world that we live in. It's a breath of fresh air to me. There's something so valuable about seeing our common brokenness and being able to say, "you too?"

    1. very kind words, jenni. that IS the goal, isn't it? we do our best to practice transparency and vulnerability so that we might connect with others, to really see each other with our masks off. well-said. love thee.

  2. There's a quote that I frequently come back to when Josh and I fail, disappoint and cut one another to the quick. I don't have the book with me, so I think I'm altering a bit but essentially it is, "If your marriage is exposing your darkest sins, it is doing what it is supposed to do."

    Marriage is sanctifying, humbling and like you said, embarrassing. In my head I like to think that I'm the kind of person (I'm often not) that will easily and willing set aside the things I cling to: visions of what a home "should" look/be like, how quickly and efficiently we "should" be taking care of tasks, how we "should" be spending our time...(oh these little fantasy worlds we build up upon the sand) And yet, how difficult it is to choose and will the good of the other! "It's all so very costly."

  3. I love that you are finding wonderful moments among the hard. Relationships in general are suppose to be hard, but worth the work and rewarding like noting else is. Love you two immensely.