Have I told you that I love Saturday mornings? I love being able to spend as much time reading the Bible, listening to worship songs, and praying as I want, without having to worry about being late to work.
Today was even better than usual. This past week has been rough. If you read my blog regularly, you know that my job has been a frustrating situation. You also probably know that I have been wondering what I’m supposed to be doing with my life.
What you may not know is that I have also been struggling in my marriage.
Travis and I are very different people in more ways than one. This is not news. While we were dating, I would’ve said that I loved the fact that we were so different because it made life interesting.
Well, it certainly does add drama.
Travis is a very playful, fun-loving guy. He likes to make jokes, quote movies, sing silly songs, and slap my butt. He creates his own words. He plays with his way-too-long-right-now hair by combing it over to the side (so he looks like a computer nerd).
I can be playful too. But since getting married, I have not been. Instead, all the things listed above have driven me up the wall. Every time he sings a song, I ask him to stop. When he slaps my butt, I get angry. When he quotes movie lines, I roll my eyes. When he pulls his hair down in a peak over his forehead, I muss it up because I can’t stand looking at it.
My seemingly unending annoyance at Travis has been a source of inner turmoil. I don’t like that I feel that way about my husband. What happened to me loving his sense of humor and playful ways? What happened to make me turn into this stern, cold-hearted, serious biatch?
Things have admittedly gotten better over the year and 8 months that we’ve been married. I am little by little learning to love all of Travis. But for the past few weeks, I have been drowning in my failures. Feeling miserable. Wondering how our marriage ended up like this. Confused about how to change the situation. Feeling doubtful about being able to do so even if I did know how. Lacking hope that anything would ever get better. Wanting to give up.
Last night, a series of events happened that brought all of this to a head. I asked Travis to make part of dinner so I could shower after working out. As I walked by the kitchen, he tossed the bag of frozen vegetables to me (because he thinks that sort of thing is fun). I was annoyed (big surprise) and confused about why he would think such a thing is fun so I threw it back a little harder than I should have. That small situation was a big reminder of how different Travis and I are. I got into the shower silently shouting at God, “Why are we so different?!?!? How can I live like this?!?!?”
Then we went to see Australia starring Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman. As we were walking out of the theater, I mentioned to Travis that the movie was way too long for me (2.5 hours). “Well that’s pretty much how long every movie is these days,” he replied. “No, they’re more like 1.5 to 2 hours long,” I said. “Oh ok, 2 hours as compared to 2 and a half. Sorry,” he retorted.
Angry and annoyed at Travis, I stopped talking, except for a few short sentences repeating my sentiment that the movie was way too long. We were almost home before Travis emerged from zoning out (which he does often) and realized that I hadn’t been talking. “What’s wrong?” he asked.
How to answer that? There were so many thoughts racing through my head. I was overwhelmed by our differences and losing hope that we would ever be able to reconcile them. Were we doomed to this distance between us for the rest of our lives?
I asked Travis if he ever felt overwhelmed by how different we are. “Not really,” he said. “But I’m guessing that you do?”
I couldn’t answer with words. I just started crying. I couldn’t fix our marriage and yet it wasn’t at all what I wanted it to be like. What was I supposed to do about it?
I laid down on the couch when we got home and Travis kneeled beside me. I completely lost it. My body was racked with grief and Travis just simply pulled me to his chest. It was the absolute best feeling in the world, to be so utterly broken and sinful, yet so utterly loved at the same time. Crying made me feel better (as it always does), yet I went to bed still feeling helpless and hopeless, begging to God to do something to remedy the situation.
He did just that this morning. I’ve been studying Romans in my quiet times and I have been in Romans 5 this past week. The verses about suffering, endurance, character and hope really spoke to me, because I feel like I have been suffering for a long time, at my own hand.
Today I was focused on hope. What is hope? Hope is trusting God, banking on God, resting in God. David writes in Psalm 62, “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.” God is the source of our hope. And our hope is based on His love for us, demonstrated physically in Christ’s death on the cross and demonstrated spiritually every day in the provision of the Holy Spirit.
It is through suffering and trials that God forges our hope in Him.
And hoping in God is not a foolish thing. God and our relationship to and with Him is the ultimate reality of this universe. Whenever I find myself doubting the relevance of the gospel, I have to come back to this fact. The gospel is more real than anything else in this world. The gospel IS Reality.
God reminded me through Romans 5 that I still have hope, because I still have God.
As I prayed about that truth and confessed that I had sinfully given up hope, I realized that I had been trying to “fix” my life on my own. In my marriage, at work, with my life purpose. I was trying to make everything be the way I wanted it to be, the way I thought it should be. And when it continued to go the way I didn’t want it to go, I lost hope. Because while I had prayed for God’s help, I hadn’t actually sought it.
I see now that instead of making my life, marriage, and job be what I want it to be, I should be asking myself what God wants it to be. My marriage and its struggles aren’t arbitrary. God chose my husband and He is choosing our trials for a reason–my eternal good. Instead of accepting the way my marriage is and the way my job is, I have been bucking them, saying that they weren’t what I wanted. I wanted something different. I was bitter and resentful–toward Travis and Phil, I thought. Really, I was bitter and resentful toward God. He is the one determining my life and circumstances. He is the one who has placed me where I am at this time, with these specific problems and challenges. He has handpicked these trials for me to go through, so that He can forge my hope in Him.
Fully offering my life up to the Lord means accepting every little thing from His hand, even the annoying things. It means asking myself daily, moment by moment, “What does God want for me and from me?” instead of asking “What do I want for me?” It means dying to myself, my desires, my expectations, my feelings, and in turn, living for God’s.
I cried hard again this morning, humbled and awed by God’s faithfulness and love. That He would take me through the darkness so that He could bring me out into the light. Just as Travis held me last night while I was crying, God holds me close whenever my heart is broken. He hurts when I hurt. But He knew that to make me better, He had to allow me to be hurt first.
My heart echoes David’s when he said, “This God–his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?” (Psalm 18:30-31)