Sunday, March 11, 2012

I love you like, ridiculous

I just want to tell a fun story that warmed my heart.  My sister, Pam, has son named Andrew who has worked at Best Buy since he was in high school.  He is now in his early thirties and is some kind of manager there, very popular with all his co-workers.  It's been a good job for him and he was set to make that his career path.

His plans were interrupted when the general manager of his store was replaced with a short little Napoleon who wanted to get his buddy a job, presumably a managerial job, but he needed to rid himself of one of the current managers to make room.  Apparently Andrew, being the quintessential nice guy, truly a gentle giant, looked like the easy target, so Napoleon fired him.  Oh, he danced around all kinds of budget balancing reasons, and gave Andrew a few extremely unattractive, low-paying options to stay with the company, but the bottom line is that Andrew is being forced out.

Happily, he got hooked up with a woman who was hiring new Farmer's Insurance agents.  He interviewed and was deemed to have potential in the industry.  So he can begin training if he wants, but he knows that starting out in the insurance business is no easy road.  The test to be licensed alone is very difficult, but then the grueling task of finding business is nothing to take lightly.  But the reward of years of hard work should eventually pay off handsomely, certainly a more comfortable future than he was looking at with Best Buy.

So his sister and his mom were full of encouragement.  His dad, on the other hand, not so much.  Mr. Safe Sally.  Go for the sure and steady meager income.  Don't take a risk.  You can't do it.  You will surely fail. 

Poor Andrew was deeply discouraged.  If he doesn't go for the insurance gig, his options are dismal since college has never quite been his thing.  So he called his mom one night last week about midnight, and they talked until three in the morning.  He told her his discouragement, how he felt like he was just stupid, and that throwing himself off an overpass might not be such a bad option.  She told him that no, throwing himself off an overpass is a very bad option, that he has wonderful people skills, that he can make the insurance venture work, not to listen to his dad.  She, I'm sure, told him everything he needed to hear.  And they hung up the phone.

Soon after they hung up she received a text from him.  He said, "I love you like, ridiculous."

Is that not the most precious thing you've ever heard in your life?  Brings tears to my eyes!  I'm so happy for him that he has a mom that can build him up when he's down.

Anyway, I do have a verse for the day.  It's really the same as yesterday, Romans 15:13, and I have good things to say regarding it.  But I have to run now.  Will have to finish later.


Hey again.  It's later now and I'm here to finish with my verse for the day.  But being the lazy coot that I am, I went to to cut'n'paste Romans 15:13 rather than look it up in my Bible or type it from memory (which is sketchy).  Lo and behold, the front page of Biblegateway had an awesome verse that I'll include here too.

 “Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments;" Deuteronomy 7:9

  Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13

So here's the deal.  I'm all mixed up about which blog I've written what in, but I know in one of them, either this one or Happy Moments, I talked about today being our 23rd wedding anniversary and the fact that T and I had a bit of a tense morning on Friday.  The tension eased when we went out with friends last night, which always seems to be the case for us -- we put our minds on other people than ourselves and things straighten themselves out between us.

The thing with T and me is that we get along just fine 99% of the time.  We've figured out how to make this work, in spite of each of our warts and foibles.  Our expectations of each other have adjusted and we have, apparently and tacitly, decided to be content with what we have in each other.

What God has struck me with, however, is that even if we are content to limp and drag ourselves along, He loves T too much to leave him in such a state. (Okay, me too, but we're talking about T right now.)  My hope in Christ is not necessarily that T and I would have this emotionally amazing bond, but that T would himself be healed of the wounds that strangle his spirit and prevent him from giving or receiving God's love.  Those wounds impact my relationship with him, but God is concerned more about His relationship with him.

I know that for most of these 23 years I would not have been able to say that.  For most of them I had a lot of trouble praying for T at all, my prayers being reduced to limply whispering, "Oh God, please rescue him.  I don't know what else to say.  Just please rescue him."

But I am in a better place now.  I am myself now much more emotionally independent, like I reported the other day.  The beauty of that is that I can pray for T for his own sake, not because my heart is bubbling over with anger and pain that I don't get anything from him.

So Friday night I was reading our pastor's monthly prayer e-mail, and they mentioned a book they're interested in now called How We Love, by Milan and Kay Yurkovich.  For all my resistance to marriage self-help books, especially ones that involve drudging up ancient history, I had to admit this looked like a winner.  This looked like exactly what would speak to our insurmountable obstacles.  So I ran right out and bought it.  (This is feeling familiar as I type.  I must've already talked about this before, so I'm sorry for the repetition.)

Anyway, I did indeed show it to T this morning, telling him I bought it for us for our anniversary.  And as expected he said, "Ohhhh PUL-EEEEZE! You've got to be kidding me!"

I explained that I really thought there was something to this, that they talk about everything that is so true of us, that we've been doing the same dance over and over and over for 23 years, we keep going over the same ground and never making any progress with it.  I told him what I've told him before, that I remember saying certain things to him our first months of marriage as we took walks around the apartment complex, and I say them still 23 years later.  Nothing has changed.  We've been stuck.

I told him about what they say that what we know about emotional connection with others is imprinted on us by our primary caregivers in our very earliest years, and what our parents were unable to do is also passed on to us.  And we bring all that baggage into our marriages.  But we come in singing different emotional songs, so to speak, and we hurt each other.  And probably most of us, at least in T and my cases, are pretty crippled in that way. 

And I pointed out the chorus of the song T has sung every since our earliest days together goes like this: "You don't love me."  No matter what I say, do or sacrifice, that's his mantra.  Now, c'mon, it doesn't take a PhD to figure out that 1) that has something to do with the song he learned in childhood, but also, 2) it's a defense.  If he can convince himself that I don't love him, he's off the hook when it comes to loving me.  Much easier than actually connecting with me on any emotional level.

Not that I am all that easy to connect with, mind you.  I have certainly brought my own baggage into this marriage, and I pointed that out too.  My mom, bless her heart, for all she loved me and my siblings, absolutely could not endure any display of emotion, any inkling of any of us allowing a breach in the crusty exterior.  Nothing made her blow up faster than tears of sadness.  Hello, baggage.

So I said all that as we lay in bed (skipping church, by the way).  The amazing thing was that he didn't explode.  He listened.  Then he picked up the book and looked at it for a second or two.  No more than that, just a second or two.  But it was enough to let me know that I had got his attention.  He heard the truth in what I was saying.  He almost immediately put it back down and said, go ahead and read it if you want.  Okay, I think I will!

But what God has struck me with today is how important T's emotional health is to Him.  (Like I said, mine too, but let's stick with T for the moment.)  But this isn't about me and our marriage.  This is about T and his happiness, his ability to connect with God, to know God loves him.  And if he can't know God loves him, where is he?  Where can he go spiritually if he can't get that? 

Well, I did make a mis-speak as we lay there talking.  He said derisively something to the effect of that book is stupid, all we need is to read the Bible.  And I said, "Yeah, and look at all the good it's done you."  I immediately retracted, because of course the Bible is all of everything and I want T to keep reading it.  But we both knew what I meant:  he's a compulsive gambler and a compulsive over-eater, and all his faith and Bible reading hasn't touched those problems.  There's an emotional issue there he isn't addressing.  Duh.

But it's important to God.  God cares.  God understands.  God has compassion on those wounds in his soul, even if he refuses to acknowledge them.  And here's the point of my post here: I can abound in hope that God will heal him.  And that hope, for the first time in our life together, gives me joy for T's sake, not my own. 

And, Deut. 7:9, our God is faithful and full of lovingkindness for all He has created.  He will not leave T unhealed.  I will pray and I have confidence that God will heal T's broken heart.

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