How best to describe marriage? In my humble opinion, I’d have to say the opening lines of The Tale of Two Cities sums it up best. At least it seems to paint the picture of marriage’s early days. Or perhaps it just describes ours…
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…” Charles Dickens
Wow. That’s it. See, there’s a reason you vow to take your other half “for better or for worse.” Because believe me, the worst comes. And faster than you think. Oh, at first there’s bliss… all smiles as your stomach dips and dives and flutters. Like here. But see, we weren’t even engaged at this point. And bad days were few and far in between. Likely because I tried to present my good side. All the time. Oh, Jason had a glimpse of the other me. But usually he got the good part. He got the best of me. But then (queue music in the background, please), the ring was slipped on my finger. Next thing you know, this happened…
In the midst of Cozumel, Mexico, on the tail end of our honeymoon, the other side of me made an appearance. The bad part showed up and she’s all over my face. Jason snapped this picture after one of our many heated conversations. Seems he had planned to do something the following weekend, sans newly wedded wife, and I was not about to let that happen. No way, bub.
That was the first time I got my way. Seven days into our marriage, Jason was the first to give in. Because everyone’s heard a happy wife makes for a happy life. Or something like that.
A good woman
This may come across as shocking but when I first entered marriage, I considered divorce to be an option. My thought was if it doesn’t work out, I could just leave. And the truth is when I said, “I do,” I didn’t realize the gravity of what I was doing. As a twenty-five year old, I couldn’t comprehend what marriage really was. Because the word covenant wasn’t part of my vocabulary. A spoken vow nothing more than words. I just had no clue…
Needless to say, we had some rough patches as two young kids came together as one. We both had our ways. Our idiosyncrasies. Our ideas. Thus, there were points of conflict in our merging. A couple incidents stand out vividly. Like the time I walked out without a word for an entire evening because I didn’t agree with Jason’s choice of restaurant for the next day’s outing. I went to see American Beauty and came home to find Jason fast asleep. The next morning, I stayed in my bathrobe till he gave in. I hopped in the shower when he called our friends to change the venue.
A couple years later, I decided there was something I wanted to change about my mate. I believe that was the one time he was just as stubborn as me, though. A cold silence followed for two or three days. I actually caved first and tentatively approached him at his place of work. But He was firm. No, he wasn’t going to change and if I couldn’t accept him as he was, he said I should just leave. I went back home in silence. And tears.
But here we are… seventeen years later. We persevered. We remain as one. And I have to give Jason most of the credit for it. Because truth is, he took on a lot when he took me to be his. Unfortunately, I carried a lot of excess baggage into our lives. Old stuff that would have been best left behind. Yep… when Jason said, “I do,” he didn’t really get the good woman he deserved. Instead, he got me.
Remembering the Salsa
Sunday was one of those days. Ironic in how bad it was (or I was) in light of all my recent writings on the good life. Embracing the good. I think I was just trying to talk myself into it. That if I said it out loud enough times, and read it that much more, my demeanor would change. That I would find myself in a good mood. Instead, Sunday happened.
I woke up on the wrong side of the bed and there was loudness in our home. All me. Words spoken and looks given and ugly gestures. Again, all me. Finally, with a sigh we all settled into the car for church. Jason said, “Well this has been a lovely Sunday morning.” At church, I pasted on my smile. I nodded and laughed and smiled and played the part. Though my loved ones at home got the worst of me, I tried to give all the others the best. I made more of an effort.
Afterward, we heard a dedication on the radio. Some guy really talked up his mate. It was nice, I guess. But when Jason said, “Now that sounds like a good woman,” I took great offense. I was ready for a fight… “What are you saying, that I’m not a good woman?” I jabbed but he ducked. He didn’t throw a punch as expected.
The grand finale was Big Lots’ parking lot. Miscommunication. I thought he was going to meet me in the store. He thought I was to come outside when I finished. So I struggled with Annabelle who did not want to ride in the cart. I held her and pushed the cart and flung items in the basket. All the while, I was getting more and more heated.
Finally, I looked outside. And there was my husband playing a game on his phone. At ease and relaxed. That’s when it happened. To use my Daddy’s term, I flew mad. I flew right out of that store, Annabelle in arm, and lost it in front of whoever may have been passing. I forcefully jerked the door open and cried, “What are you doing??”
But Jason, he’s a good man. He didn’t get loud in return. He calmly took Annabelle into his arms (I’d plopped her onto the passenger seat), and exited the car without returning my ugly gestures. He joined me in the store. That’s what Jason did.
But later, I know my mate was thinking about me and my bad attitude. Because he called to me from where he lay as I performed my kitchen duties. He asked me if I remembered making salsa. Of course I remembered making it. I figured it was something to add to my enormous to-do list. “Do you want me to make salsa?”
But no, that’s not what Jason meant. He reminded me that when I made salsa, it usually meant I was happy. Remember the salsa meant remember your good mood. And so that’s what I did. I remembered the salsa. What led up to it and what came afterward.
The good part
Throughout our years, Jason and I did a lot of entertaining. Enter the salsa. If I were to make salsa, you can be sure company was coming. And I loved it. I lived from one gathering to the next and I loved all the preparations that went along with it. I’d put on music and dance and sing. And I was happy.
But our lives changed when two turned to three. Then three turned to four. And what once seemed like fun turned into nothing more than a chore. Salsa became a job when kids made the scene because I had so many other things to do. This is what I ponder as I consider the salsa.
See, motherhood is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Because you give away parts of yourself 24 hours a day. As soon as your feet hit the ground, you start doling out the pieces. A sliver here and a slice there. And before you know it, you find you’re depleted with nothing left to offer. Nothing but the scowl on your face as you chop veggies at the counter. Like me this past Sunday.
But only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her. Luke 10:42
Problem is there’s been sickness at our house. Nighttime interruptions and extra tasks. And because my days have been full and sleep has been lacking, I’ve looked for other places to trim the fat. Seems I took out the wrong thing, though. I cut away the good part. Which reminds me of Martha and Mary.
Most of us are familiar with these sisters, I’m sure. But in reading their saga today, I cannot help but think Martha had a flying mad moment. Just like me at Big Lots. She was busy preparing for a party and her sister just sat there doing nothing. Martha even voiced her complaint to Jesus. Tell her to give me a hand! But He said Mary chose the good part. She sat still at his feet. What’s more, she listened.
This is the part I cut away. I’ve not been doing this. Busy with other stuff. Like Martha. And because I haven’t filled up on the good part, there’s not much good in me to pass out. Especially not to my family. Most assuredly, they haven’t been getting the best of me.
A good man
A couple of weeks ago, I had an epiphany. One of those pivotal moments in time that changes how you look at everything. It has to do with my husband. And most importantly, it has to do with how I see God.
You planned evil against me; God planned it for good… Genesis 50:20
See, Jason came into my life when I was at a real low. And it was my bad that propelled me in his direction. However, Jason became a turning point in every way imaginable. Most poignantly, I see that through the meaning of his name: one who will heal.
By the time I got to Jason, this is what I needed. Healing. Because there wasn’t much left of my heart. Simply, I’d given too much of it away. Sadly, this is what I brought to our marriage table.
And so I find it miraculous I met Jason when I did. On the heels of having my heart broken again and again. Because through him, a good man, I found another Good Man. I found God.
Jason’s the reason I met the One who came to bind up the brokenhearted. But the healing of my heart wasn’t, and isn’t, an instant fix. Because at first it wasn’t noticeable. Not to me. Not when there was just two. But then came Levi and Annabelle. And the added stress and responsibility exposed my heart’s faulty cracks.
Annabelle’s her name. She is a living dream. But also… she’s one of the reasons I’ve been at wit’s end lately. Strained. Because she fights every single thing I do. She resists. Clothes and diaper changes and hair brushing. All of it. Everything is a struggle. And like me, she’s loud. Oh, it’s downright exhausting. And yet, I love her through it all.
About a year ago, I thought I’d comprehend God’s love for me through my love for my daughter. But last month, I realized I was wrong. It’s not Annabelle who’ll teach me about God and his unwavering love. Instead, it’ll be the one who’s been at my side for seventeen years now. Even longer.
It’s Jason. It’s always been Jason. One who will heal. When he asked about my past, he didn’t condemn me. Rather, he opened his arms wide and embraced me. He accepted every single thing about me.
And through the years, he’s put up with a lot. Oh, he’s not perfect and has moments of his own. But all in all, he is the one who’s been the most gracious. The most merciful. He is the one who usually relents first. The one who breaks the silence. Who calms the storm. He’s loves me so much better than I love him. Because he’s unconditional.
My great epiphany is this… if I want to get an idea of what God is really like, I need to look no further than my other half. My better half. Jason shows me every day what God is like.
It’s through this good man of mine that God has so richly blessed me. And how He will teach me about Himself. Miraculous.
I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. Hosea 2:19
Crazy thing about women. It’s in our nature to give and give. But sometimes, we end up giving it all to everyone else. By the time the day is through, our family ends up with the leftovers. Table scraps. And this ought not be! So today I try to rectify that.
With me, it’s words. I use them to build others up. But what about that good man of mine? Have I really used this platform to do the same for him? Because this is what I do. So today, I take the opportunity. And it’s timely. See, it’s Jason’s birthday month. And I always have trouble finding a gift. But not this year. My present comes early. It’s good news…
I tell my husband God is working on my heart every single day. And I know what I need to do. I have to fill up on the good part first. That way there will be more of me to give. And one day, when my heart is made whole, it will be all his. Just as the fragments already are.
The best part, though, has to do with our vows. For better or for worse. See, worse is turning to better. And the best of me is yet to come. Soon I’ll be able to reciprocate by giving all of me just as he gives all of himself. And isn’t that what marriage is, anyway? The best of times. The worst of times. And through it all, giving the best we have. But to each other first.
If anyone else has read this far, I ask for a prayer today. For me and for wives everywhere. That we would love our husbands to the utmost of our ability. And that we would give them the best of us. All of us.
Because good men are hard to find. And they’re worth a prayer. And so much more…
Maybe even salsa.
In the same way, older women are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to much wine. They are to teach what is good, so they may encourage the young women to love their husbands and to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, homemakers, kind, and submissive to their husbands, so that God’s message will not be slandered. Titus 2:3-5