November 2004 was the beginning of a year that looked like an emotional roller coaster. November was the part where you're stepping into your seat and wondering why the people that just got off the train are stumbling and look kind of green around the gills. You buckle in and pull the safety bar down. And the bored teenage amusement park employee pushes a little button that starts you on your way.
Only the difference here was that God was the one pushing the GO button and He had already been on the ride and He knew when the loops and the twists and turns were coming. And, because He is omnipresent, He's also sitting beside you with a barf bag and even offers to hold your hair back while you puke up your funnel cake for the rest of the
And then! The best part? Is that when the
year ride is all over He's the one that agrees to get on that crazy train with you, once you've recovered your equilibrium and shout excitedly, "Let's go again! And this time let's ride in the front seat!"
That whole Seven-Year Itch thing? I sort of believe it.
Brian was working hard. Oh wait! I think I've mentioned that a time or four. But this year? His work and making money seemed to take priority over all else. And this was the year that his former boss cut off the end of his finger by accidentally slamming it in a car door and he asked Brian to come and help out a couple of times a week in his office while he recovered from a reattachment surgery! Brian was leaving two days a week around 6 a.m. to get to the office on the other side of town by 8:00 in the morning and not getting home until 9:00 in the evening.
He was stressed out and that is VERY difficult to do to Brian. He's one of the most laid-back individuals I have ever met. Which is one of the reasons I fell in love with him. He had always balanced my crazy, exaggerating, glass-is-half-full-and-will-be-empty-any-second personality out. And he was rubbing off on me. Over those first 7 years, I'd learned more about not worrying about circumstances you have no control over and I was learning to determine that I didn't have control over nearly as many things as I thought I did. I had been learning these things by his example.
But this year he started to talk to me differently. His cool, even tones were turning to tones that were sharp, sarcastic and, at times, biting. And I was not feeling respected by him.
I was also anxious and even more emotional than usual because I was pregnant. And with a girl no less! The estrogen was running rampant! Oh! I nearly forgot to mention that I had gestational diabetes this time around and was having to prick my finger several times a day and having to be very careful about what I ate.
I felt like I was all alone. Like my adoring, helpful husband wasn't going to be so adoring or helpful any more. Going from 1 baby to 2 had been incredibly difficult, to put it mildly, and I fully expected to go through more post-partum blues and was not looking forward to breast-feeding and taking care of a house and three children all by myself.
Let's throw in some more dynamite, shall we? Mom was dealing with a personal crisis and it was not something I could have saved her from and I didn't know how or even if I should help - not that I could have.
How about another explosive stick or two? One of my dearest friends lost her baby at 24 weeks pregnant. And that same week I had said some horrible things to another friend, in a room full of our friends, and there was no time-machine to jump into and take back those words.
Volatile. Vulnerable. This is how I felt.
There was even one afternoon that Brian and I were terribly worried about our money situation that we had argued and he went MIA. It was so unlike him to be gone that long with no explanation and I couldn't get in touch with him that I honestly was worried that he had done something really horrible like suicide. It was awful.
Then, one night, I laid it all out for him. How I was feeling and why and he listened without interrupting and his face softened and it all began to change. We both began to change.
We agreed to clue the other in when we were feeling stressed and we both promised to honor the other's honesty and to listen and be receptive.
In the midst of all the turmoil and subsequent treaty...Anna was born and she was the easiest baby ever born to any parent in the history of babies being born and my friend became pregnant again and Mom was coming to some important conclusions and I learned to forgive myself (and also to keep my mouth shut) .
And we pulled into the amusement park station and got off that wild ride - queasy and a little dizzy but we had been securely buckled in the whole time.
And we said, "Let's get on again!" and we celebrated our eighth anniversary.
What did we learn during that erratic eighth year?:
- That God knew - He wasn't taken by surprise by anything that happened that year. And He held my hair back when I had to throw up (figuratively speaking). And He patted my hand compassionately and reminded me that even when I feel all alone that He is with me.
- How to Prioritize - Making money and keeping that business afloat weren't nearly as important as nurturing our relationship with one another.
- Honesty is the Best Policy - Truth spoken in love. There's no substitute for it. Share what's stressing you out. Listen when your sweetheart has something to say. Don't get defensive and don't start thinking of how you'll answer them before the questions are even asked.
- Shut UP! - Just because you HAVE an opinion doesn't mean that it needs to be shared ... particularly when you have received your information second-hand and you don't have the foggiest idea what you're talking about. And when you feel deserted because you were an idiot and spoke without thinking it's probably because you have been. And you were deserted because YOU WERE WRONG. Maybe your opinion wasn't wrong but you were wrong in sharing it or the manner in which you spoke. (This one is strictly for me. I'm sure this has never happened to you.) ; )
- This Too Shall Pass - Hold on tight through that last cork-screw turn... the station is in sight and you'll be able to get off that ride soon enough.