Monday, April 20, 2015

All The Things I Did Not Say

I gave up talking smack about my husband for Lent.  But it is now Easter and I have some things to say:

I have more than once told the joke that when my friends in high school used to give things up for Lent I would tell them I was giving up dieting.  I would chuckle at the concept that they would give up chocolate or sugar or movies or anything like that.  A few years ago I started in to make Lent a time for resolving pieces of my heart as I took the journey with a billion other Christians to the cross and then to the glory of the empty tomb.

I started with giving up making excuses.  I tried to make my answer "yes" and "now" and "send me" instead of littering my every desire or goal with the self-destructing language of excuses.  It was challenging and life-changing.  The next year I gave up excuses and weighing myself.  It was the beginning of my pregnancy and I was gaining faster than I had with my first son and decided to use the time I would usually spend picking and prodding at a body that continuously felt a little bit foreign to instead remind myself of my identity in Christ.  I would be lying if I said that since then I haven't made a single excuse or stepped on any scales but it is good to be in the habit of transforming my heart.

This year, my husband started a "Lent for Everyone" Wednesday night, intergenerational worship service at our church.  We would sing songs together, everyone from the youngest to the oldest, and then three speakers would get up and give 7 minute "TED talks" on that week's scripture passage from the Psalms.  It was brilliant.  And it also provided me with my Lenten fast.

The first week the scripture was Psalm 25:1-10.  Speaking of putting your trust in God and not being put to shame.  It is chock full of things about forgiving our pasts and God's faithfulness but the thing that stuck out most to me was verse 3 which says "No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame but shame will come to those who are treacherous without cause."  It was a dagger to the heart, because as much as I don't find myself to be a treacherous person, I realized that I often fell into the same habit of many a married woman who vents about her husband to her friends and then they all join in the chorus.  I had already been feeling really convicted about my outside grumblings over dishes and laundry and the smallest things that I had hyperbolized for the sake of conversation but this Psalm honestly put me to shame, I was treacherous without cause.  I could not ask for enough forgiveness.

So there began my Lenten fast, I would keep my mouth shut and my texts kind and my phone calls positive.  I thought it would simply be a practice in staying quiet but it opened my mouth to great things and changed my whole self through and through.

I have never been much of "take your thoughts captive" kind of girl.  I have always been a fan of external processing and talking until I got where I was going.  I tell long stories and I love and remember details, I keep track of things said and things felt.   But all of a sudden I found myself thinking about the grip I had on all the little things I held so dear because I couldn't simply text them away.  I had to really take a whole view of the things that brought up the anger and frustration that I wanted immediate validation for.   I had to see what about my heated state was valid and what was simply an inconvenience in the kind of day I felt I was entitled to.  

Then, if the frustration was valid I had to try something remarkable, I had to talk to Noah about it.  Without working myself up in my head, justifying my every dissatisfaction but instead striving for humbleness, reminding myself that he isn't a mind reader, come to the love of my life and ask for his apology, his forgiveness, his help in our marriage, help with our children, help with my understanding and finding in the asking the realization he was asking the same of me. 

It was brilliant.  It was not always calm and perfect and idyllic but it was intimate because it wasn't shared outside the walls of our home or hoarded within the confines of my emotion.  And honest intimacy changes everything.

So, like I said, Easter is over and I have some things to say.  I have to tell you about all the things I wanted to yell from rooftops about my husband in the last two months -

He is so much more than I ever give him credit for.  I am guilty of sometimes putting him into a box of specific skills or titles like "pastor" or "dad" or "outdoorsman" or "dishwasher."  But he is astoundingly creative.  Our church's whole aesthetic was planned and built and put into motion by him.  He has a remarkable ear for harmony and balance in everything from a big sound stage to the new children's drum kit in our living room.  His inclination toward problem solving makes him driven to create a solution and not in a typical manner but always a manner that respects the people involved.

He is a remarkable father.  With our two-year old, Soren, the hardest moment of the day is when his dad leaves.  Soren is in love with his dad but that isn't an innate thing for every kid.  Noah has been intentional in cultivating a relationship built on trust and love and understanding and great fun with both of his boys.  They light up when he comes home as if everything they have ever wanted or needed just walked through the door.  And he doesn't take that adoration for granted, instead after a long day when Soren says, "Let's run!" Noah breaks into a race making laps around our couches with grateful kids in tow.  And as he closes the door to Soren's room at night is left in awe of his duty as a father, I am in awe of him.

He is a bringer of the gospel and a champion of justice.  I can't describe this here.  I can't tell you about all the ways he digs in to scripture to reveal the compassion of a big God who is desperate for love and justice and mercy and righteousness.  I can't describe the passion that consumes him when injustice is over looked or even more, conscripted against those around him.  But you can listen to him preach it here, and know that these few moments are a glimpse into his heart and conviction.

He is the lifter of my head.  I have never in my life experienced grace and forgiveness in such a monumental manner than through this man.  He does not let shame stand between us and when something has gone wrong, whenever I have made a mistake through the years, big or small, he doesn't let my self-doubt stand as an excuse not to run into his arms.  I am more than grateful for his mercy I am a better woman, wife, mother, human person for it.  He is a champion of my dignity and I am his biggest fan.

There is more but this is already really long but I think you get the moral of the story.

Gossip is more than simply small talk, it is treachery without cause.  But on the other side of treachery is intimacy, vulnerability, honesty and home.

In other words, everything we all can hope and imagine is well within our reach if we simply reach out with our eyes open and perhaps, our mouths closed.