As will happen in moments of what my wife and I call “intense fellowship” (aka relational tension; aka the marital spat) I found myself face-to-face with the love of my life, her countenance marred by the furrowed brow of someone asking, “Lord, who is this man you blessed me with? Why is he so incredibly obtuse?”
Her eyes flashed with the brilliance a married man encounters when he has cleaved to a woman well beyond his spiritual league.
But she keeps me close to Jesus.
What was that spark I saw through the crystal-clear windows of her soul? It was fusion created between words I spoke before, words I have presently spoken, her superior logic, and the Holy Spirit converging into one. These tend to create energy so overwhelming that I am forced to step back and turn my head to avoid being consumed.
I tend to come away with singed eyebrows and an opportunity to grow.
When the Lord uses my spouse to hold me accountable, I really only have two options:
a. This takes various shapes:
i. Avoiding eye contact is running.
ii. Denial is running.
iii. Asking, “what do you mean?” (when you know exactly what she means) is running.
vi. Giving her the silent treatment to buy time………running.
vii. Raising your voice….childish, and also running.
viii. Literally running……odd, but running.
ix. Walking out and slamming the door….running.
Running is great exercise, but I will be back and she will still be there, and I will still have to address whatever that was that flared in her soul, so maybe option two.
2. Humility – I will pause here to let you gag, because we both know humility tastes like cold, soggy steamed broccoli. When you’re ready, please proceed.
a. Simply defined, humility is placing my everything back where it belongs: in the care of the Wonderful Counselor. (Luke 10:27)
i. It means I love Him with all I am.
ii. It means I love her out of His love.
I have grown a great deal in nine years of marriage. The running vs. humility ratio has evolved from 99 parts running / 1 part humility to a solid 15/85 (a very humble estimate). Humility, no matter how awful it tastes in the moment, nourishes my spirit and begins the process of nullifying whatever selfish, misguided, petty thing I clung to in the moment that got her attention.
After a long pause to regain my sight after the brilliant flash of holiness that had just ensued, I chose to think through the last few minutes in the Spirit.
Running reacts; humility chooses.
We used to spend hours attempting to reconcile even something minor, because my defenses were battle tested and reinforced with three feet of steel armor. I grew up with an incredibly angry father who dominated most of my early life with physical and verbal abuse. Running became more than an avoidance tactic; I was literally fighting for the life of my anemic self-worth. At a young age I took on the identity of being worthless. I didn’t just feel worthless, I convinced myself I must be worthless or my dad wouldn’t have treated me that way. At the age of twelve my mom finally divorced him and took us into welfare housing. When he would come around he would rekindle my feelings of worthlessness.
Children tend to make sense of life at their level and then deal with it. I believed he walked out on us because I was worthless.
Which brings me to the discussion with my wife.
I chose to pray about what had caused our dispute for the morning. The Lord led me through a series of thoughts.
A. You made daddy mad too much. – Not true
B. Daddy left because of you. – Not true
C. If you make wife mad enough, she’ll leave you, too. – Not True
D. Too keep wife from being angry and protect yourself you cover your true feelings. – Absolutely True
E. Covering how you really feel actually makes her more angry, so it’s self-defeating behavior. – Absolutely True
F. Honesty has never failed you, even if it upsets her. – Beyond True
a. It is, after all, the best policy.
Even after nine blessed years of marriage, I still have times where I revert back to that little boy trying to keep the people I love from leaving me.
In short, there were tears, an embrace, and the beauty of love growing as she came back to peace and I took another step toward healing.
When a spouse’s soul flares, the flame can either fall on the short reactionary fuse that turns us to selfish flight in its many forms, or we can let the light guide us back to Christ. May we all choose the latter