“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint…” ~ The Apostle Paul
The exchange below, which takes place between two authors I recently interviewed for one of my other blogs, first made me laugh, and then got me simmering about how much we humans tend to think we’d prefer the fantasy over the reality.
“Peter: After the class, I had all these people, women, come up to me and say, ‘I need a perspective on how a guy would handle this situation.’ So I listen and then I tell them what I think. They kind of look at me for a minute and then go, ‘No, that’ll never work. I’ll have to do something different.’
Patrick: So women don’t really want to read about real guys?
Peter: (laughs) It seems not.”
People have said the following kinds of things about my almost-thirty-year marriage with my husband, Sean...
“You guys seem like you’re so in love.”
“You make such a great team.”
“You rock the marriage thing!”
I understand why people might think these things, watching us. How I get to have the blessing of this man will be an eternal mystery to me, it certainly wasn’t deserved. The crazy thing is, he feels the same way about me.
But we have also had those moments that anyone who has been married for any length of time understands…
Those times when you’re sitting and staring wordlessly into your spouse’s eyes because there’s nothing left to say—you’ve said it all dozens of times and prayed and cried and the person across from you is being insanely unreasonable—cruelly so.
Those days when you’re sure there is no way out of this emotional and mental anguish that hurts so much it causes actual physical pain and you think, “How can I possibly continue to live with someone who makes me feel this bad?”
That moment when the realization rolls over you like cold waves, and you think, “This is it. This is that moment when people get up, walk out the door, and don’t come back.”
Marriage is a fragile thing and if you’ve personally experienced the ending of one, the point of this post isn’t to pronounce judgment on that—at all.
But my experience is this: Somehow, in those moments, Sean and I remembered that we loved each other even though we couldn’t feel it right then, that we’d remained faithful, we had children together, and we’d promised in front of God and witnesses that, with His help, we would work it out no matter what.
So this is my point, because I know it’s true: God loves that kind of stubbornness. He loves it when we turn our backs on every voice screaming in our heads to just escape, and instead cross our arms and refuse to give up on the reality He’s placed us in.
Persevering, stubbornly continuing to “kick at the darkness until it bleeds daylight,” proving to ourselves that we trust Him, is the way to everything that God has for us on this planet: real love, proven character, hope, life itself. It’s Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, your will, Father, not mine; and in our paradoxical God’s economy, our sacrifices don’t mean loss, but gain.
Trusting God through the harsh realities of life grows us up, draws us closer to Him, and teaches us to love each other in ways that those who don’t know Him can never understand. He loves you, and so He will turn your perseverance into strength, maturity, beauty, goodness and wisdom. If that’s what you want, drop-kick the fantasy, my friends, and live it like you mean it.