Thursday, September 6, 2007

New Ground Rules and a Ray of Hope

On Tuesday we had just the sixth graders here at our middle school. It was yesterday, Wednesday, when we started the full blown start of school.

I kept busy, which was good for me, focussing on my craft, teaching kids. The first meeting between students and teacher is important, it lays the foundation for many future interactions, and it is the tone set then that can dictate the “personality” of a class. So I was busy.

But my thoughts did return when they had a moment here and there to the domestic issues I am facing. We had a counseling session scheduled immediately after school ended.

Brenda was here to pick me up, and once in the car we rushed the 15 miles we needed to traverse in 30 minutes. On the way she told me about her day.

It was encouraging that she had a Christian CD playing, one given her by a concerned friend from our church. She has been avoiding such music lately.

She had news. She was going to take her mother to tour an assisted living facility in our community and had gotten herself ready a little early. Just as she was about to leave her mom called, out of breath.

My mother in law had fallen on her back porch, had not been able to get up on her own, and had lain for 45 minutes with her feet propped up on the ridges of the sliding glass door and her head in the flower bed two steps down until someone heard her and came to help.

She is pretty bruised up, but no broken bones. Brenda spent the afternoon with her to be sure she did not fall asleep with a possible concussion.

We spoke about that for a little while as she drove a little more aggressively than I liked toward our weekly counseling session.

These sessions tend to stir things up, and though we have found them beneficial for helping us in our situation, they leave us feeling pretty bruised. I think we were a little more hopeful of this one because we have been talking a slight more hopefully lately, entertaining the possibility of reconciliation.

We arrived in time, and Brenda spoke first about her concerns for her mother, about perhaps getting an emergency call button she can wear, and the general challenges and burdens that caring for this prematurely aged woman has on her and our home.

When it was my turn to speak, to share how I felt, I spoke about her phone calls to this other man. I shared how this dancing on the fence is an acrobatic feat that I cannot do for too long. That my heart races, that I have trouble sleeping, that I have trouble concentrating, that I feel the urges to act the way I saw “real men” act when I was a child.

She spoke about how the legal issues for gaining citizenship for our children, especially Jeremiah, and the constant supervision he requires, the main reason she is still here.

He asked her what she would do if that problem was suddenly removed.

She did not want to answer. She hesitated a long while, and then answered that she loved this other man and that she would leave.

He asked me what I wanted her to do.

I said I wanted her to break it off clean, and for her to really give our marriage a fair chance to heal.

He asked me if I would be willing to help her resolve Jeremiah’s situation so that she would be free to make a choice without strings attached.

I said: “No.”

I said that I was willing to work on that to the best of my ability, to help Jeremiah become what he needs to be, to help take this burden off of Brenda, but not for the purpose of removing an obstacle to her abandoning our marriage. I would do it because it was the right thing to do, but I would not abandon my vows of sticking with her through everything that came our way. If in helping to resolve this situation she used it as an opportunity to leave, that would be her choice, not mine.

We talked about the ground rules we already had, that she would not meet with this man outside of work, and that I felt she had found a loophole in being able to call him. I also said that I knew she and he were making opportunities to bump into each other at work. I told him that it was an intolerable situation for me, one that I cannot live under.

Brenda was asked if she would be willing to stop all contact except incidental, accidental contact with him for as long as we are resolving these issues with Jeremiah. After a tremendously long pause she agreed.

I was asked if I would do all that I could to assist Brenda in resolving these housing and legal issues with Jeremiah. I said that I would honestly do my best, though I knew it placed my marriage at risk.

We drove home in near silence. She ejected the Christian CD. We listened to a local jazz station.

While we were fixing dinner she said that she felt she had been forced to choose between this other man and me and that it made the decision sound much more clear-cut than she felt.

We had pork roast for dinner. Afterward, she wanted to wash the dishes, alone. I went into the bedroom, grabbed the latest issue of Scientific American and began reading. I could feel the fatty meat in my shrunken stomach, and knew I should go for a walk to digest it better (I have decided to get fit and am eating better and exercising). She said she wanted to go with me to walk our dog, and she’d like to stop and check on her mom.

At Mary’s apartment I looked at the bruises on her arms. I gave her a soft hug which I could tell made her feel very good. Everyone needs love.

She was barefoot, getting ready for bed, and her toenails were long, narrow, thick... one was so long I could see it was pushing aside her flesh as it curled around. Brenda saw it to.

As I sat in a nearby chair looking at the smashed place in her flower garden, Brenda knelt on the floor beside her mother and gave her a pedicure. That image of her on her knees, helping her mother...

We left.

“Sometimes I find it hard to continue to be a servant to others,” she told me.

We had a long walk, about four miles, through the afternoon and into the first gloom of the evening. The path became dark enough we had trouble seeing potholes.

We both feel that the counseling session had been wrenching. She had agreed to put aside her feelings for this other man for an indefinite time, perhaps six months, while we work through these issues, and I had promised to help speed the process along.

We fell asleep, our backs separated by that vast distance a California King size bed and of two hearts beating over very different concerns can create.

The alarm went off. I had a half hour to get ready and go. Instead we talked.

“I’ve exaggerated things,” she said to me.

“How?”

“I’ve said that you haven’t done anything for raising our children, but I know you have done a lot. I have focussed on the things that I wanted you to do that didn’t happen and didn’t mention the things you have done.”

“That’s OK.”

“I also said that this relationship with this other guy is about love. And at first it was really just about sex.”

Silence.

I needed to say something.

“I know that this is going to be a hard day for you. I know that you will be seeing him, and that you have something you need to say that you don’t want to say. I will be praying for you today. Whatever happens, I want the best for you.”

“I know you do. Thank you.”

So there it is. I am praying for my wife. That she is able to put up boundaries at her work that will help to strengthen our marriage.

Who knows if we can come back from this? I suppose He does.

Still... this is a difficult situation. But there is a ray of hope.

Heavenly Father... I pray for my wife. Please put a hedge of protection around her. Help her to be strong and be true. Please, I beg you my Lord, my Master, send a messenger to whisper in her ears words of encouragement, strength and wisdom. Bless my wife today. And Lord... please bless this other man. Please help him to see the value in Brenda staying true to her vows, returning to her vows, and that he will sense how he needs to give her space to find her true path. he may hope that it leads back to him, but help him to see that if their love is true that a few months will not stop what they might have, but that if it is false, that she needs to go her own path, in a direction away from him. Bless this situation lord. give me strength and wisdom tonight as I speak with her after this trying day. Bless my home Lord. I am Yours and will obey you. Lead me Lord Jesus. I beg this, I offer this petition in the name of the Alpha and the omega, my Shepherd and LORD, Jesus Christ. --Amen.”

12 comments:

Chris Krycho said...

Amen.

Still praying, my friend.

wilsonian said...

**humbled**

praying too.

Anonymous said...

Will,
I am amazed, humbled and stand in awe of your prayer.

will pray...

you are teaching us all

MMM said...

Dear God, forgive me for not knowing earlier that Will needed prayer so much for this one day. Forgive me for being distracted by crap from other sources. I know You are the Lord of prayer, early, and late, so I give my prayers for Will now, knowing that You are Master of space and time, and that our linear thinking doesn't line up always with Your timetable. Be with my friends, God. Shelter their hearts, harden their spines. Give them the absolute strength...to lean heavily on You.

Dear God, I pray for Brenda. I cannot know her heart; the morass I find within myself is hard enough to traverse. Please be with her. Loose her from whatever binds her to anything other than You.

Will has prayed for the other man. I do so as well. Be with him, and forgive him, and forgive me. It is much to ask of You to bear with us small helpless humans, but I have no other choice. Bear with us, Lord. Bear our burdens, our struggles. Bear our banners when we lift You high, bear us up when we are sunk low in our junk. And finally when this is all over?

Bear us home, God. Bear us home to You.

We love and miss You. Hope to see You soon.

onionboy said...

Amen.

O | luminousmiseries.ca | onionboy.ca

Anonymous said...

sh - one of the most amazing blogs i have ever read. God is working in & through you more than you know. what you are trying to do & be is cutting against the stream of our selfish, fallen humanity. you are divinely graced in this journey of pain & struggle. keep loving this dear woman who quite possibly doesn't really know how to be loved, aggf

Jada's Gigi said...

praying for you both...you are no wuss, brother. He is compared to a lamb and a dove...but He is no wuss either...and He lives inside of you

Jim said...

I'm saying amen with you in your prayer also, C.S.
And I pray a lot more for you, for you as you are feeling so helpless and alone.
God has said He would never leave or foresake you. And He won't. Through this, He won't.
We all can be thankful for that! For us too!
..
BTW I'm not forgetting to pray but I will be out of pocket for the next three or so weeks. I won't be able to read your progress at all. I'm leaving it up to the Lord, in prayer, and in you. For now.
..

Coco said...

May you find peace within yourself, forgiveness for Brenda,
and the strength to deal with this painful hardship.

God is always with you!

Blessings.

ame said...

Will ... getting caught up ... still trying to unpack ;)

There is much I could tell you, but not in such a public way ... but I want to say ... she had a choice. You are right ... the seeds are deep within her soul and need to be healed ... still ... even unhealed ... she had a choice.

You are a good man ... and God is smiling down on you mixed with the tears over your pain for you. God cried when she hurt you ... for you.

Where you are ... I understand ... I was there ... I get it. I would have done the same had I been given the chance. Some thought I was crazy ... but Jesus was thought to be crazy, too.

Your path is so extremely hard ... beyond articulation ... remain steadfast, my friend, and know that I pray for you as God brings you to my heart.

Holy God, cover Will with You, Lord, cover Will with You. I love You, God, Ame

Pia said...

still praying for you, will.

curious servant said...

Quick update:

Things are not looking hopeful.

The pendulum swings and hope rises and falls. I don't think my marriage will survive this. She simply wants to run away.

She may have a lot of good reasons for feeling that way. A fresh start can seem very appealing.

I told her that I didn't think that she will be happy...

honestly... today I despair...