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In which (love looks like) room to change

 

You’ve been away for a week now, and I miss you so much more than I expected. I say “expected” because we both know what it’s like in this house: how busy, how loud, how full, oh, these days. I mean, I knew we would miss you, but we have school and preschool, get-togethers, family, friends, church, work – life is still furiously happening. Surely I’ll be too busy for longings. Two nights in, I was standing in our closet, with my eyes closed, smelling your clothes. I did all the laundry, and I cried because I missed your gigantic jeans with the frayed hems filling up our old washing machine. I haven’t cooked a real meal all week, we’re subsisting on grilled cheese and pancakes, I guess you’re the one for whom I cook.

This week, I’ve been remembering the years of spiritual disunity between us, particularly around community and church, calling and vocations. Maybe it’s because you’re back with our beloved friends-like-family in Texas, and the Great State was the scene of one existential crisis after another for me (or maybe I was just too hot, we all know how grouchy I can be when I’m sweaty).

So I remembered how burned out and broken I was ten years ago, then, you joined me seven years ago, and we moved, then we went different directions somehow.

Remember this?

I railed against institutions and organizations, wouldn’t darken the door of a “real” church, became fluent in fault-finding and cynicism, the word “orthodoxy” made my left eye twitch, while you tacked hard the other way, steering towards seminary, conservative denominations, structures, authorities, you longed for accountability.

Many saw me, and my questions, my wonderings, my wanderings, as a liability to your calling, they felt badly for you, I was holding you back. Why couldn’t I fall in line? I know this. (I felt badly for you, too.) And others on my side couldn’t understand why you were going back into the old ways, when God was moving as a fresh wind, beyond boundaries and walls.

Even though we were so far apart on so many seemingly vital things, we were so happy, weren’t we? we were still us.

People would raise eyebrows at you: What about your calling to pastor? The years were going by. They were concerned. And you would say, I’m trusting God with that one. And then you would laugh and say, Well, I’ll just send them Sarah’s blog, and if they still want us – you always said “us” not “me” – after that, I guess we’ll know it’s a good fit.

We were moving towards each other. But it took a while. You moved, and I moved, and God was moving, and we were meeting at a thousand points in the sky. Today, we stand together, all these years later, in harmony and in step, in agreement, in unity, oneness, even in the places where we disagree (still) (yes, still).

I looked back on that season of our marriage, the season when we were so different, and I remembered you telling me that this was not going to change us. We could give each other the gift of time, and space, room to change without fear.

There wasn’t an urgency of trying to convince each other, was there? I didn’t feel the need to make you believe and think in my ways. I understood why you were there. And you gave me the same grace, didn’t you? You even gave me the extra measure, the freedom to explore my struggles and ideas and weaknesses in a public place, you were not threatened by me.

And when you were faced with the choice between full-time vocational ministry or a strong marriage, right in the middle of those years, you chose me.

Don’t think I’ll ever forget it.

Don’t think I’ll ever forget how you chose to stay here, in a small city in Canada, for me, for our tinies, even now.

Don’t think I’ll forget how we each let the other be wrong, for a long time.

I had a friend ask me: but how? How do you disagree so strongly on something as vital as your spirituality or your expression of faith? How do you fall away from everything you believed, and yet, yet, not fall away from each other? because don’t you have to solve all your problems before the sun goes down? don’t we have to stay at it, marriage is hard work after all, until all is resolved and everyone is singing from the same sheet of music?

Maybe.

But we didn’t do it that way. The sun has set on our disagreements, many times over.

We’ve gotten a lot of practice at living in the in-betweens, we figure that’s where the life happens, and we figured we wanted to love well, even, especially, here.

The sun went down, we still disagreed mightily, and we kissed in our old bed anyway.

I remember you saying it to me, over and over: meant to be, Sarah Lynn. Meant to be. We were meant to be, we built it down in the foundations of our story, and so we were safe there.

Somehow, we knew that if we were faithful to God, faithful to each other, then we would end up where we were meant to be all along, together, eventually, even now.

God gave you to me, darling, and he gave me to you, for this journey, and we figured we both had a lot to learn, and so we gave each other the room to change.

You’ve given me so many gifts but I think of one often: you just aren’t afraid. You are never afraid, you walk in such trust, and expectation, in bold gentleness.

Bri, this part of our story would have looked so differently if you hadn’t been so fearless.

But because you weren’t afraid, I was not afraid, and we simply rested, even danced, there, in the in-between, and we talked a lot, and we waited. The Spirit moved me, and the Spirit moved you, and we moved together always, to now. We’ll move somewhere else – literally, figuratively – someday, I imagine.

You’ll be home tonight, we made you muffins. I call sleep-in tomorrow morning. Thank you for letting me change. Thank you also for changing.

Photos by Tina Francis Photography

I’m taking some time off from blogging to finish my book. In the meantime, I am reposting a few of your requested favourites.

Today’s post originally appeared on 30 September 2012.

It is part of an ongoing series called [Love Looks Like] in which I write about, well, what love looks like for us in these days.
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love looks like, marriage, Uncategorized
  • Angela

    I LOVE this! Thank you so much. Reading words like this just helps my heart to love my husband more, despite our many differences.

  • Meg

    I am so encouraged by this. My husband fell away from his faith a couple years ago. He is now agnostic. Marriage has been very difficult, to say the least. But this encourages me to continue the dance, despite our differences…

  • dawn

    Thanks for reposting this one. Love the photos too.

  • Lori

    Really, really beautiful and true…..working and loving through the differences. That is what successful marriage (and any relationship really) is!

  • http://www.coffeestainedclarity.com Bethany Bassett

    This is beauty, encouragement, honesty and true love, the very best kind of story. I always read your “Love Looks Like” posts with a lump in my throat, even the second (or third, or fourth) time around.

  • http://www.creeksideministries.blogspot.com/ Linda Stoll

    oh this is sweet, makes my eyes fill, been there, done that … and marriage works when we listen well to the Spirit, to each other … patiently waiting, with His unending grace, for what He has next …

  • http://sacredeveryday.ca/ Jenn

    These always make me smile, and cry.

  • http://www.facebook.com/anna.white.967 Anna White

    My husband and I married when he was 26 and I was only 20. I had no idea who I was or who I wanted to be. I was just running hard and smacked into him along the way. We are both totally different people now than when we met, but somehow we grew together. Amazing grace.

  • Joy Lenton

    Beautiful, Sarah, truly beautiful. The pictures are amazing too. It is clear to see how besotted you are with each other! I love how you were/are able to give one another such grace to be yourselves within the relationship. A blessed gift, indeed. I had the misfortune to suffer a complete mental health breakdown a few short months into our marriage and my husband has had to be so patient and look deeply many times to catch even a mere glimpse of the person he fell in love with and married. My whole personality shattered. I barely knew myself. But his love, faithfulness and perseverance has helped piece me back together since then – not the same as I was maybe, but still infinitely precious to him. God bless you both as you learn, love, grow and develop as a couple. :)

  • http://twitter.com/DandelionHaven Kateri

    Loved this. It really struck a cord in my heart. Thanks for resharing. I missed it the first time around.

  • Maya Resnikoff

    I appreciated reading this so much! I’m a rabbi, and my husband is a rabbinical student, but our movements are different- his school and the congregations he would likely serve in (if he heads for a congregation) are not gender egalitarian, and I am. I’m definitely a liability for him, if he wants that sort of work. But we’re running with it, and his faith in finding appropriate work and community for us really is powerful. And so is your story.

  • http://www.mamabean.ca Mama Bean

    it’s just… oh God. it’s just that on the internet, when we get to meet with the WHOLE WORLD we find out exactly HOW MUCH we are not the only ones going through this THIS thisthisthis. i didn’t read this when it was posted originally, but i ohsoneeded to read it tonight. love.

  • newspin4

    Fantastic! I love the expression of life and relationship in the in-betweens. Thanks for sharing. Amazing photos as well!

  • Debby Hudson

    Like another who commented, now I know I’m not the only one. There are so many areas I connect to this part of your story. I knew he was right for me because he let me, lets me cry. It does not scare him. Ever. And he spent years waiting for my time and now, 20 years of being in ministry together, I still chafe and squirm and question this crazy life but love him and God even more. Just loved reading this Sarah. Thank you for sharing your journey-all parts of it.

  • Jillie

    So glad for this re-post, Sarah. The sheer honesty of it. Every marriage is a story and I’m so glad I got to read some of your’s today. Love the photos too. You’re a handsome couple, I must say!

  • da

    i loved this too. so not the standard cookie-cutter definition of relationship in marriage. and so- yet again- providential to get this email now. am in a cross cultural marriage living in his country speaking his language. there are a whole host of other things that could potentially separate and/or break our marriage and yet despite the hard stuff, he is ‘the one’, and i love him, and i know it is right. and i just needed to hear that from another pilgrim on the journey so that i can ease up on my husband and let this unfold as it does.

  • J. Collard

    Thank you for sharing this. May I be fearless.

  • Melissa Otterbein

    This is so beautiful, Sarah. I got teary eyed. So much I can relate to. So grateful for your voice out there. You inspire me on a daily basis!

  • Stephanie

    I remember when you first published this. The new photos fit the narrative just right. You two make a great couple.