So this isn’t about the book. This message is about something much more important… your marriage.
As I drove to the cemetery this morning a song came on my playlist. Already wistful for Lenny and what I didn’t have and could no longer hold, the song took me back to days forfeited when we let life’s demands pull us down and away from each other.
I found myself thinking of the times my heart – his heart… our hearts had felt staggered, unseen, unheard by the other. Together, sleeping side by side, sitting on the same couch but all alone.
It happened when Lenny was lost. It hit us when we both were saved. It even hit us as we pressed into successful ministries. It hit us as aged, war-weary, veterans of ministry. There is no safe place or age where you become exempt. Not one. None.
You can hit it in your twenties as you both plow through college, losing your independence (the right to do what you want when you want), as you are making babies, as you switch to new careers or a stay at home role.
You hit it in your thirties as the small children you love begin to demand / need all your extra waking moments and you are trying to figure out how sports, gymnastics, childcare, doctor bills and Christmas are all going to fit on the salaries that aren’t stretching to fit your current needs, dreams or expectations.
You’ll feel it in your 40’s when the kids have one foot out the door and you suddenly realize you spent so much time investing in others (mainly your kids) that you forgot to focus on the only other person in the house who is not leaving after they finish school.
You feel it in your 50’s as you try to regroup and reclaim a younger version of you that you can live with as you hit ’empty-nester’ status with more weight and less hair (or at least a different hair color) than what you had when you started the marriage thing.
You can hit it anytime, anytime….
This isolation in the midst of marriage will catch you by surprise because somehow we always think that if we are financially stable, well-settled in a community, content and especially if we are in church and for sure if we home-school we should be exempt. But it hits you one night as you lay in bed and you catch yourself wondering how it came to feel like you were sleeping with a stranger.
You started off soooo in love. Most couples say ‘I do’ with stars still in their eyes, we did. Lenny & I were inseparable. So what happened?
We generally think that comes with compromised hearts. You know the one where one or both spouses are casting dating glances from married eyes OR giving /receiving extra attention from a co-worker OR watching things on the media. It happens to those people but not me. Not us. Not now.
Yes you. Yes me. Yes Lenny. Book two will cover details but for right now let me just remind you that Satan’s best plans will always involve you feeling isolated from the very ones you should be able to turn to for comfort and love. What God builds to desires to grow – the devil looks to destroy. Your faith. His church. Your marriage… anything divided is doomed to fail without some much due time and attention.
You can’t wait until midway through the seven-year itch period to invest in marriage maintenance. Well maybe you can but it hit our marriage before 30 days was in and ricocheted for years thereafter. It was a constant attack. We tackled issues one by one. Our separate past now merged and conflicting. Finding and maintain healthy boundaries in the opposite sex. Alcohol and anti-depressants. Marriage pressures: financial issues, moves, kids, old friends, new friends, being too busy, jobs transfers / struggles, differing schedules, busyness, exhaustion, conflict and crisis etc.,
So take some time this weekend, maybe even tonight, to reminisce about when and where you feel in love. Remember how it was months or years ago when they called you just because and warmth spread all over you. Or when they would whisper your name from your side of the bed. Or those occasions when they picked you up and whisked you away from normality. Reach over and make the first move, it doesn’t matter who is right, it doesn’t matter if they want to walk down memory lane with you… just do it and pray.
Pray for wisdom and strength to hold on and recapture one of God’s sweetest gifts, a heart that has been crafted and grafted to fit your own. You don’t need to wait until the kids are grown or your careers settled or you are retired… some things can’t afford to have anything less than all of you – ALL IN. Your faith is one. Your marriage is another. And you’ll need ONE to help you TWO make it through it gracefully.
Lenny & I were strong in faith and love yet we too had to guard and maintain the thing we shared that made our lives rich – our love and life together. Our passion for… each other.
So many moments wasted in those last months before Lenny passed. Minutes and hours spent eating together lost because we opted to spend the time looking at our phones instead of each other. A restless night spent looking at separate walls, flustered with stuff outside of our control. A silent car ride with both of us lost in our own thoughts unable to break lose of church ‘stuff’ (our work), people and everyone else’s drama. Time wasted…
Babe, I wouldn’t wish back the last 24 hours of our lives together instead, if I could, I’d take back the hours we unwisely surrendered in the months prior to your exit home. I would wipe away the anguish I live with now when I feel the tears of regret ushered up from my broken heart. Every second lost I would redeem…
I would if I could. I would that I could.
Love you, your Babe.
Lenny & I can’t… but maybe you can.