Think back to when you were faced with a really big decision. Maybe it was choosing where to go to college, whether or not you took that job, bought that house, or tried for that 3rd baby. A decision you intentionally made that had potential to significantly impact you or someone you loved. How did you make it? How much time did you spend on deciding? While I’m throwing out rhetorical questions, I’d like to add: Why are these decision so hard to make?
My obvious guess is because we can’t see the future, we can only imagine outcomes. The true reality of a decision is hidden from us at the time we make a choice. So we are constantly hedging our bets. For the most part I’m SO glad I couldn’t see what my future held for me, I appreciate that God designed life to work that way, but it does makes decision time challenging, especially when there’s not an obvious “Most Right” decision.
Erron and I are in the process of making one such decision and it has been DIFFICULT. We desperately want to do the most right thing by all parties involved. We want the effect of it to be positive. We want to be sensible, above reproach, and true to our hearts…except we’re still not exactly sure what our hearts are telling us. It’s a sensitive decision, with lots of complicated emotions attached to it.
The cherry on top is that as a couple, Erron and I could NOT be more opposite in how we approach big life decisions. I’m dangerously impulsive, swinging dramatically back and forth depending on the day. When it comes to hard decisions, I’d rather rip it off like a band-aid. The more I think about it it, the further away I get from a decision, and the less I can be trusted to be secure in it. On the other end of the spectrum is Erron. Infuriatingly methodical, he logically calculates in each and every possible factor. He will not be rushed and once he makes a choice, it’s made. The End. So, you know, that’s super fun for both of us…Oh, Marriage:You think you’re so funny.
Anyway. Together we’ve sought out council from people we trust and respect, we’ve consulted scripture, and we’ve been praying. Then just when think we have it nailed down, we learn new information, and find ourselves back to the drawing board, most our options changed, new ones we didn’t even know existed popping up.
Eventually however, we will be forced to choose, and then we’ll have to step out in faith and trust that even though we picked a path, The Man Upstairs directs our steps. One thing I have to remember when dealing with all parties involved, is that God knows our hearts, he knows what matters to us, and I pray he appreciates the struggle. Some decisions you make never knowing if you made the right one, that’s why they call it hindsight. Lots of times you never learn if a decision led to the “right” outcome, you made a choice, and now life just IS what it IS.
A good friend put it this way: At the end of the day, we are not as powerful as we think we are. It was such a perfect thing to hear. Together, Erron and I will chose the path we think we need to go down, and then it’s out of our hands. We don’t have control over much after that, our decision could lead to lots of different outcomes, and our lives are not quite as up to us as we want to tell ourselves. I will make a thousand more decisions that affect my family, and I have to keep believing God is the underwriter. He drives the plot line so the only decision I need to really focus on is, “Am I actively pursing a relationship with Him?” Waaaay easier said than done, I’m preaching to myself. But I’d like to point out that some pretty big players in the Bible made some really dumb decisions. God stuck around for them, so even if I get this one wrong, I’m counting on Him doing the same for me.
Erron and I celebrated 8 years of marriage this week. Last year we spent our anniversary in the PICU, extubating Shepherd and hearing his precious first words, “I want to go home.” We were exhausted, having experienced every possible emotion in that one day alone, after a marathon 9 days of minimal sleep and intense fear. Yet it was the most meaningful anniversary we’d ever had considering what we’d just experienced as a couple, the nature of Shep’s accident, and the fact that Erron wasn’t even in town when it happened. The gift of a second chance at life with our son was indescribable. I later learned that in the bible, 7 stands for completeness and perfection, or something that is finished. I internalized this as God saying, “This catastrophe for Shep is over, I will make him whole and perfect, and you two will make it through this.”
Except I forgot that a lot this year. The truth is, this year was rough. We had so many intense emotions process through. PTSD hit me like a tidal wave the day Shep was transferred out of PICU and hung around for months. But we circled the wagons and continued to put one foot in front of the other. Anyone who’s done it can tell you: Marriage isn’t easy; and marriage with children is something else entirely. I recently watched my little sister walk down the isle and it got me thinking over the things I’ve discovered about making a marriage work since Erron and I said “I do,” at age 23. We were babies. What did we know? And who’d have thought we’d experience all we have so early into our vows? So, I made a list…8 real things I’ve learned after 8 years of marriage, plus one to grow on.
1. Sometimes the mundane is harder than a crisis: Erron and I tend to unify quickly in really scary or exceptionally stressful situations but it’s the day-in-day-out grind that gets to us. Things that all couples face: Unexpected expenses, an over-packed schedule, and the perpetual lack of sleep that comes with our particular little people. This stuff gets under our skin and starts to cause friction between the two of us. We become short-sighted, irritable, forgetting that we aren’t really in total control of our circumstances in the first place. After a while, we have to call a time out, remind each other what really matters, and hit the re-set button.
2. Have a higher calling: There was a clear moment; sitting slack jawed on that little couch-bed in the hospital room, nurses buzzing around us…when the two of us were pretty sure we were going to loose Shepherd. In that minute I looked at Erron, eyes wide and nervous, and I whispered, “Are we in this together?” He looked me in the eye and said, “Yes, we’re in this together.” It was the first time I could take a breath. Erron’s few words told me all I needed to know. He still believed in Us, and he felt as I did: If we had to say goodbye to our little boy, it didn’t mean forever. Facing whatever the next minute would bring, we were unified in our belief that this was not “The End”, and our whole world hung on this belief. That moment was bearable, and oddly peaceful, only because our faith was bigger than our circumstances.
3. Being a good Dad counts extra. It just does. There are seasons when Erron and I are not on the same page, things are not awesome, and we are not madly in love. But even in our worst moments of marriage, Erron has never quit being an intentional Dad and I’ve never failed to notice how obsessed our kids are with him. Being a great parent counts big time, sometimes more than being a great husband. And it goes both ways, I know Erron thinks I’m a good mom and that matters…. A lot. Erron and I always manage to get back on track, but I’m not going to pretend I’m never motivated toward ending an argument so we can just go back to being a happy family.
4. One-on-one time actually IS a big deal. NO, we do not have weekly date nights, not even close. But on the rare occasion we make it out of the house child-free I’m always amazed at the difference it makes. You don’t have to leave the house. Sitting at home watching Netflix while your kids are in bed does not count. But sitting at home and having an adult conversation while they sleep does. It’s the talking that does the trick. Conversations with little people are hectic. Attempting a serious personal conversation with our kids around looks like this: “Babe. I’ve been thinking it’d be really good for me if I started- “SHEPHERD! Stop wrestling your sister!” or, “At work I’m having this issue and I’m trying to figure out how to -“CHAR! No more cheerios before dinner!” You get the picture.
5. Forgiveness. I’m just going to go ahead and say Erron’s better at this than me. Erron seeks out reconciliation before I do, and it’s one of the things I love most about him. I feel like arguments repeat themselves less than usual because we work them out to the point of actual verbal forgiveness. This concept now extends to our kids. Since becoming parents, Erron and I have improved the way we argue, but we still tend to fight loud and it’s not always clean. Many times we end up going to our kids and asking them for forgiveness after an argument as well. It keeps us in-check and hopefully, the take away for the littles is that we aren’t perfect, but we keep trying.
6. Have at least ONE show you can watch together.If not, you’ll always be in one room watching Nashville and he’ll be in the other watching Walking Dead and that gets lonely after a while. Even if you’re too whipped to do anything but zone out, it’s nice being able to do together.
7. Get excited about what your spouse is excited about. I’m not into disc golf, but Erron is crazy good at it. I bought him a putting basket for Father’s Day last year and you’d of thought I bought him a truck. He loved it, best gift ever. I should be exempt from all future gifts, it gets used that much. Likewise, writing is not Erron’s thing. Still, he faithfully reads what I write and he takes me seriously when I talk about what I’m putting on the blog. It’s possible he only cares because he’s at high risk for subject matter, but I’m going to say it’s because he loves me. And I love that he cares enough to listen and provide feedback.
8. Sending out the distress signal can be a smart move. Hands down the best thing Erron and I ever did for our marriage was go talk to someone about it. We’d never done that before this year, and we probably wouldn’t have if it was not so obvious to both of us that we were in way over our heads after Shepherd’s accident. Once we were able to air out our truths in a safe place, the truth didn’t seem so scary, and we realized things were actually really good between us. Inviting wise council into your marriage helps you process better and think as a team. We never left counseling more discouraged then when we came in.
9. Assume the best. This one is hard, but a game changer. I would say at least half our arguments are born out of false assumptions about the other person. And people tend to become the type of person you treat them as…so give your other half the benefit of the doubt. Erron is not avoiding that insurance paperwork because he doesn’t care about our family; he really is slammed at work and just forgot. Our house is not trashed for a week because I’m lazy, the kids are going through a phase that requires extra attention. Extending grace…goes a long way in short circuiting arguments.
For us, marriage means we’re better people together than we would ever be apart. It’s not about the individual (even though it really feels like it). It can hurt, a lot, having the rough edges of your personality worn away. Selfishness, entitlement, pride…. everybody struggles with these feelings, but tied to another person you have to be willing to own them….and cut them loose. Over and over again. This year wasn’t always pretty for us, but it’s beautiful, what we’ve become. Erron collaborated with me to finish this list. Last week, I came to him, defeated over the lack of material I had to write this post. “Babe, I only have about 6 things to on my list! I panicked, “It’s like I haven’t even learned anything in 8 years of marriage! And after all we’ve been through!”
“Or maybe…” he suggested, “…we’re just so damn good at it.”
Last weekend was our Reclaim the Date party and it was everything I hoped it would be. Lots of family, so many friends, and we threw in Pistol Pete for good measure. Everyone who came mattered to me: our families, friends who drove in from different cities and states, Shep’s swim teacher and his nurse from Tulsa…everyone there contributed in making this year move forward for us. We had a blast seeing them all in one place, meeting each other, making connections, and enjoying life.
I felt like I was at a wedding, I couldn’t move around fast enough, greeting, hugging, catching up. I was in heaven. Erron and I agreed, it was a perfect day.
The next morning, Father’s Day, and the actual one-year anniversary of Shepherd’s accident, the four of us drove down to Great Wolf Lodge and spent the rest of the weekend playing in the water. I’d like to say it was just as dreamy as our party, but reality kicked in and that actual day was a little more…complicated. Erron and I let the kids go down one of the big slides. In a last minute change-up, I went first, Erron sent down the littles one by one, then was to follow behind. As soon as I got to my feet I turned and prepared to catch Charlotte, who was “iffy” about going down in the first place. Looking up, I saw Erron gesturing from the top of the slide, clearly pointing down, but I second guessed, and thought maybe he needed me to come get a terrified Char from the top of the stairs. I moved a few feet away from the slide, and missed her. I turned around to check the slide again just in time to see a stranger helping her out of the chute; she was scared and confused, caught near the jets. My heart sank and I rushed to get to her. Erron was frustrated; without telling me, he’d foreseen a similar scenario play out in his head and wanted to be the first to go down. He also couldn’t comprehend how I miss-read his cues when they were so obvious. I was….how shall I say… I was not pleased. I felt like I’d repeated a really bad day all over again on a much smaller scale and to say I was ticked would be underselling it a bit. However, we recovered…we worked it out, moved on and enjoyed the rest of our time there. Great Wolf did not disappoint.
And that’s how it goes. Erron and I aren’t perfect and neither is life, but this weekend served its purpose. We had fun in the water, we gave thanks, and we showed June 21st who’s in charge. We survived one hell of a year, thanks to incredibly supportive families, rock star friends, and some amazing people we’d never known before this journey started. Our faith that God is as good as He says He is has been tested, and proven true. Hitting the one-year mark doesn’t magically make all hard feelings about what happened go away, our slide experience is proof of that. But it has brought lots of perspective…we are all together, we have everything to be thankful for and we believe we can handle whatever life has to offer. It’s time to just enjoy the ride.
We are 10 days away from the one year anniversary of Shepherd’s pool accident. I’m not sure how I really feel about it. June burst on the scene with Aunt B’s wedding and hasn’t seemed to stop sprinting yet…maybe I should be grateful. Less time to stew, less free moments for my mind to wander down the dark alley leading back to that day, the worst day of all our lives. We got big plans for the weekend of June 21st. As a couple and a family, Erron and I have made plans to re-claim that date for joy, re-branding it as a day to celebrate what was returned to us, the love that was shown to us, and recognizing how far we’ve come this year.
I’m at a loss to describe the emotions I feel towards hitting the one year mark. I suppose thankfulness triumphs over the other, more complicated feelings. Thank you God, our sweet Shepherd lives, and he is thriving. Thank you God, my marriage is still in-tact….thankfulness for our friends, supportive families….there so much to be grateful for. But underneath that gratefulness, the pain still smolders a bit…the anxiety still pressing in on me when I wish it would just go away forever.
In one afternoon, everything I knew about myself and my life seemed to be stripped from me, and though I’m proud of who I am today, I like who I’ve become, the simpler version of me is morned. I cannot go back, even if I wanted to.
As for Shepherd, that boy seems to be doing great despite what happened to him. He’s still bright, still astoundingly creative and captivating, still complicated. He’s still Shepherd, the one I knew before June 21st, 2014. But as parents, Erron and I continue to worry…Shepherd made his entrance into the world 2 months early which means I was born into motherhood with anxiety strapped to me like a dead-weight. It’s hard to untie the knots of worry, which have since been intertwined with threads of guilt, much more so now than before. I wrestle with this feeling, this anxiety that causes me (and Erron) to stress over Shepherd’s impossibly short attention span, his seemingly intense emotions, and his struggle to retain facts he’s not interested in. When I worry, I feel a bit like I’m cheating on faith. Like I’m failing to recognize the miracle every doctor has told us he is. I remember, trust me, I remember…but I’m human too.
Writing this post has made me realize there is a part of me that is still so, so sad Shepherd fell in the pool. I’m still heartbroken it happened. But that’s ok. It’s not unfaithful to suffer, it’s not weak to feel pain, and today I’m going to let myself be sad. Because the weekend of June 21st, I will have none of it. I will spend it rejoicing over our miracle, and the beauty that was born out of our ashes. I said it last June, and I’ll say it again…God is good all the time, and all the time, God is good.
So, things have been psycho at my house lately. The kids aren’t even in school currently, but Erron and I still feel like we are ships passing in the night. It’s good stuff: swim, Sister’s wedding festivities, VBS meetings, but just, you know… crazy. Erron and I have gotten sideways more than a few times over unmet and unrealistic expectations of each other and ourselves. I hear the same type of argument played out in different ways from my other married-with-young-children friends. She’s annoyed with him for getting home later than she’d like, he’s working his butt off…. his commute home is at least 30 minutes and he’s frustrated with her for being annoyed. Then she takes the argument one step further because he obviously doesn’t understand how hard it to “commute” home from swim in rush hour traffic, at dinner time, with two equally exhausted and ferociously hungry little people. With no dinner plans. Because she was at swim. And by ‘she’ I mean ‘me.’ But whatever. I CANNOT be the only one.
The other day I had this gem of a conversation with Shepherd who was raiding the pantry at 4:45 pm.
Me: Shep, you cannot have pretzels for dinner. What can I make you? Eggs? PPJ? Yogurt and cheerios? What will you eat?? Not pretzels.
Shep: How about a sandwich with Nutella?
Me: Nope. You can’t have chocolate for dinner.
Shep: Breakfast drink? (Ensure)
Me: Um, NO. You can’t have chocolate milk for dinner either. Eggs?
Shep: I know! What about waffles?
Me: Shep! No! You just lick off the powdered sugar. Quesadillas? Stir fry??
Shep: (now whimpering) I just want a piece of bread and some nutella!! (Fake tears.)
This went on for an absurd amount of time until I caved and spread peanut butter AND nutella onto two pieces of bread. Cooking dinner is so stressful.
I know these are first world problems. I’m living out my dream job and I believe the old ladies when they tell me someday, not too long from now, Erron and I will look back on these days and crave them. And I sincerely believe the struggle of one income, and the temporary loss of my identity is worth it. I feel the sweetness and brevity of this time in bits and spurts throughout each day. But some of the other minutes (hours)….I wonder, “Am I MISSING something??” This load of laundry is not going to change the world, and I’m feeding my kids breakfast for dinner. Again. Is this it?! Will my greatest achievements be an empty laundry basket and the day I can prepare a family meal that includes side dishes? Will my family even sit down at a set table and eat it?? A set dinner table—we got big dreams over here at the Weig house. Because I’m totally in control of my thought life, my mind jumps into fast forward and I start to panic. I’m suddenly 50 and I haven’t made any significant impact on the world around me. Also, my kids are going to college and still have no idea what’s on the dirty dozen list. They don’t eat clean. They don’t even eat vegetables. I have failed my life.
I complained to a friend last night about how I am certain my life is sneaking away from me. She talked me off the ledge by reminding me that she too, had been on it not long ago. Then she simplified it for me. “Allie, we are living it….we’re fine, we’re great!” We’re living it!” And she’s right. We are, even if sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. Right now, it feels like aimlessly herding little people around and praying they turn out OK. And truthfully, I’ve been restless for months. I can’t go back to the person I was before last summer, but I haven’t figured out what this new woman is supposed to be doing with her life after being handed such a second chance. I’m scared I’m not making the most of it, but can’t figure out how to do it any better. I’m tired of being restless; I’m ready for some direction. But maybe that’s how this gig works. You do the best you can, seek out the wisest voices you can find, ask the Man Upstairs for some direction, and then put one tentative foot in front of the other. I don’t really know. That’s how I’m doing it. I’ll let you know how it turns out when I’m 50…. If my kids are healthy eaters by then, they’ll be doing better than me and I’ll call myself an expert.
My little sister is getting married this summer and I’m helping her plan it because she’s a first year vet student and only has time to study and sometimes eat. It’s been fun (tiny bit stressful, but mostly fun) and it’s made me think a lot about my wedding. What I loved and what I would do differently. I think I’d keep just about everything but the dress. That dress decision was oddly hard for me to make, and I’d go a whole different direction now. Which is probably a good thing, since I’m 30 something and not 20 something…
Erron and I got married pretty young. We were 23 but Erron looks 16 in our wedding photos. We met at ages 18/19. (I tried to find an early picture however Facebook hadn’t even been born yet and I’m not up for digging through albums tonight.) We went to opposing colleges, but were introduced by a mutual friend when I went to visit her at OU. It was pretty much game-over for both of us in about 6 months. Which was crazy, because we.were.freshman. We had a looong way to go before we could make this thing official. Erron transferred to OSU sophomore year and that’s about the time my friends pretty much assumed I’d jumped off the deep end, and I basically had. In fact, if I could go back and do college again, I’d scale it back a little. Erron is amazing and all, and thankfully, we ended up together, but I think I could have split my time better…girlfriends are a BIG deal, those friendships can last a lifetime too, and I sort of forgot about that for about 4 years. (I would tell Charlotte the same thing.) If the boy is meant to be, he’ll be there in the end. I know Erron would have.
On our June wedding day, it poured. Rained all through the ceremony but by the time we made it out to the reception site we were treated to clear skies and a stunning rainbow. We took it as a good sign from the Man Upstairs. Minutes before I was about to walk down the isle, I realized my Something Borrowed had fallen off my finger. I was literally holding my hand up to show it to my dad, and discovered the ring was missing. Something Borrowed happened to be my mom’s diamond eternity band, so I was panicking as I walked through the doors. (If Dad was panicking, he kept it to himself, sweet man.) As I passed by the photographer standing in the doorway, she deftly slid her own ring onto my finger so I’d have a Something Borrowed anyway, and I spent the first half of our ceremony whispering to Erron allll about how I’d lost my mom’s diamond ring. In fact, I spent most of the ceremony talking to Erron, because I was so nervous having people staring at me, staring at him. Erron just did the nod and smile thing, he was in a tough spot. Does he listen to the minster, or his bride? Nod and smile seemed like a safe way to go. I’m sure guests were wondering “What can she possibly be talking about!? ” (PS, my mom’s ring was found in the dressing room, so this can be a funny story,..not an unfortunate, expensive one.)
Anyway, we got married. And our reception was a blast. Still one of my favorite nights ever. Weddings are so much fun in general, and I loved ours. It drives me crazy that my Texas girls weren’t there because we hadn’t met yet…I’ve been to all their weddings and I’m weirdly sad they weren’t at mine. I’d like to think they would have had a great time, but in reality they would probably have been annoyed because there was lots of sorority and fraternity serenading happening. (Remember, we had just graduated so we were still SUPER dedicated.)
Helping plan my sister’s wedding has made me nostalgic so I’m adding lots of pictures. Erron and I will have been married 8 years this June. I kind of wish I could do it all again at our 10 year, but mostly so I could pick a different dress, which is probably not a good enough reason. So, I’ll just enjoy Sister’s. I’ve seen her dress, I think she got it right the first time.
I started writing a post today while the little were sleeping. It was about nap time mind-games. The ongoing battle between choosing between doing the stuff you need to get done, or choosing to do something for yourself. I couldn’t finish it. It felt like whining. When I wrote it I was frustrated that I was not keeping up. I was loosing the laundry battle, I couldn’t find 20 minutes to sit down and figure out how to digitally borrow a book from the library even though I got the app for it days ago. I absolutely could not play legos with Shepherd because I had to wet-vac the carpet Charlotte spilled milk all over yesterday. When evening rolled around, I chose not to show love or patience to Erron over a tricky topic because I had used up all my love and patience before he got home. He got annoyance and brutal honesty instead. I needed a time out, and I got it when I ducked out to catch a late movie with my sister after the kids were put down for bed.
Two and a half hours later, I snuck back into a quiet house, and crept into every bedroom to spy on the person sleeping there, adjusting covers, feeling my heart so full of love that it brought on the pinprick of tears. Charlotte just got moved to a big girl bed, and she sleeps in it sideways, like she’s still in a crib. I watched the air move in and out of Shepherd’s lungs with gratitude and gazed at my husband in amazement that he tolerates being last in line as often as he does.
This week I have been obsessing over getting my house back in order, checking off my to-do list and what my hair would look like with extensions. I forgot that to two little people, I am the whole world…I can make it magical by simply showing up. Being physically and mentally present. To one man, I am the center of the universe, I have the power to make him feel like a million bucks or treat him like he’s another person to deal with when he walks in the door. It’s such a life altering perspective that’s so easy to forget.
There are currently five people that live in my house. Erron, myself, Shepherd, Charlotte… and Guilt. Guilt snuck in the back door when we brought Shep home. At first, he was a noticeable unwanted guest, his presence was palpable and overbearing, but he learned how to blend into the background….he wove his way into our everyday life so I forget he’s even there most of the time. I’m so used to Guilt’s presence that he’s like my shadow…but he’s poisoning the well.
Guilt sleeps in my bed, between me and Erron. He likes to whisper in my ear, pointing out how different our parenting styles are, and that Shep would never have been hurt like that on Erron’s watch. I believe Guilt. More than I believe my husband when he tells me Guilt doesn’t need to live here anymore. That he was never welcome in the first place. Now, Guilt is so comfortable with me, he’s on me like white on rice. When Shep is super emotional and has a rough day/week(s), Guilt reminds me, “This could have been prevented, you’re his mother, you failed.” When I’m with my parents and Shep melting down, I get tense, they get a little worried,and Guilt asks me , “Why can’t you get over this? Stop over analyzing! You are weak, and hurting the people you love with your grief.” Even Charlotte is not excluded. She’ll be sassifying the heck out of a situation and while I’m trying to deal with her, I hear guilt clucking at me in the background, “…You’ve dropped the ball on her, you focused so much energy on Shep that you lost sight of Charlotte.”
Just when I’m ready to tell Guilt to get the hell out of my house he pulls out his trump card, warning me,“You won’t make it without me…You’ll get too happy and relax. You will drop your guard again and you know what happened last time. You need me to keep your family safe, the next bad thing is just around the corner, stick with me… and you might just be ready for it.
Guilt is full of BS but he’s a REALLY good liar. So I panic, invite Guilt back in, give him some more room. Just to be safe. My head knows Guilt will not protect me, it will rip apart all that is good… but my heart is afraid.
Thanksgiving at my sweet parents’ house was challenging. I brought my Guilt with me so he could have a field day with the Guilt that lives with them, it’s insane. It drove me to hide in my child-hood closet, hyperventilating over what happened, about how close we were to having a Thanksgiving without Shepherd. We’ve all felt a little crazy at different times these last 5 months, but we’re not. Just guilty. Poor Erron is left out of this club, even though Shep is as much his son as he is mine. Since Erron wasn’t there when Shep fell in the water, I exclude him instead of letting him in, which means he usually has to deal with all of his hurt (and mine) on his own. His pain triggers mine, so he buries it. It’s not right and it’s not fair. But Guilt has me handcuffed, he’s calling the shots.
By writing this down, I’m hoping to drag Guilt out of my house and into the light, where I can expose him for what he really is: A liar, manipulator, a thief of peace and joy. Guilt is a dictator and he rules with fear.
It was an accident. It was nobody’s fault, but I’m a pleaser, I’m a responsible person, I feel like this guilt is my burden to bear….but that would defeat the purpose of grace, wouldn’t it?My guilt is already accounted for and discarded, if I can just hand it over. I’m trying, but it’s hard. It takes time, prayer, and more time. I set it down for a bit, then nervously pick it back up.
There is another voice. One that says, “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest in your souls.” Matthew 11:28
This voice is gentle, strong but loving, and it does not lie to me. I’m listening.
One interesting thing this whole experience has confirmed for me is that Erron and I could not be more different in the ways we receive and process intense and prolonged stress. It is so drastically opposite from one another that it could be considered comical, if it didn’t make us want to throw things at each other from time to time. This is not surprising, I know much of this comes from the sheer fact that Erron is a man and I’m not. Things hit our hearts differently and what weighs on mine doesn’t necessarily stick to Erron’s and vice versa. Also, when it comes to big, life-changing events, Erron has always been a think, then act, type person while I tend to be of the jump in first, think later variety. Like a lot of guys, Erron is content to bury his emotions while I prefer to conjure up no less than five conflicting ones in a single conversation. I become annoyed that my husband does not feel the immediate need to chase his manic wife into hyper-drive and discuss every possible plan and backup plan that is critical for our family’s success. Erron doesn’t understand why I can’t ever just calm the heck down about our life and be in the present moment. So you can see, that although we were absolutley united in the midst of it….something as intense as what we went through with Shepherd was bound to eventually cause some ripples in our relationship. How could it not?
Throughout our 7 year marriage, Erron and I have always taken turns going through the valleys. I find this to be challenging but healthy, especially with kids in the picture. When we got home from Children’s Hospital in Tulsa, I could barely string two thoughts together. It felt like that newborn baby haze…once the adrenaline wears off and you’re left feeling overwhelmingly grateful for this little life you are gifted with but everything else is so, SO hard. I felt cloudy and exhausted. Erron was upbeat and practical. He was kind and tried to be positive as long as he could while I spent all of my extra energy lashing out at myself and him because of the overwhelming guilt.
Now that I feel better, I see my husband retreating into the fog. He still shows up. Still goes to work and works hard. Still engages with the kids at home and helps out. But I can see the heaviness on him. The weight of things he’s yet to process because he couldn’t. He was holding us up. It’s his turn.
Marriage is such a dance and right now Erron and I are trying to re-learn our parts. It’s hard. It can be frustrating and we have definitely been stepping on each others’ toes…but we keep taking the steps. I believe this will make us better if we choose to take this route and really address our differences and how we respond to one another. I think it already has. We both know that we will eventually find our footing and fall back in sync, moving better than we had before. And I’m thinking that someday, down the road, we could be that pair on the dance floor that make other people lean into their partner and whisper, “Dang…that couple can DANCE.”