Speak the hard things.
On a cold peeling blue wooden park bench, I shuddered and wrapped my navy sweatshirt around me tighter today. The spring wind was brisk, chilling me as I read.
She shocks me, this author. In between poetic raw faith musings on family and cancer which grab my mind and echo in me, she breaks into political monologues that are jarring and unfamiliar to me, or irreverent rants. Flipping pages past to family and faith, I read and pick up the story line again.
Speak the hard things. I agree, yet hesitate. Where’s the fine line between sharing the hard and yet not speaking ill of others? But I do remember the liberating hope and encouragement that came in my early years of parenting from hearing other moms share stories of coming undone and unglued.
On the park bench, I stopped reading to watch my three year old scale a webbed triangular jungle gym. My two teens hung upside down on red metal bars, laughing; their dark hair glinting and swooshing in the sunshine.
“Do you know I love you guys so much?” I yelled out to them. They laughed, exchanged glances and looked back patronizingly at me. “Yes, Mom,” they called back in a patient “Our Mom is such an idiot”-kind of way.
This weekend was different, though. How can great teens be so rude? How can a happy marriage have such a horrible day?
Speak the hard things.
There will be days when your gracious, kind teens will mouth off, have bad attitudes and moan about homework. They will roll their eyes and disagree with your decisions. Conversations will ensue about proper eye and mouth behavior, but the inner hearts will still be angry and sad for a few hours. Dumb things may be said.
There will be times when happy couples will be stressed and impatient. We will choose our own needs first, sadly, and fall into ruts of communicating for an hour or so, reverting to an unhappy, silent standoff. The night will fall dark and still, the bed will feel wide apart, and the red digital numbers will quietly click off time. “In the silence, a marriage dies…?” I wonder in my melodramatic way.
“No, Jen,” he says softly in the hot steaming shower the next morning. “We just work harder. We hug, we gently talk; we criticize less. We firmly stop the kids in their own bad habits.” Water runs down, and we breathe deeply. “We’re not dying.”
Hugs, quiet cuddling on the couch, concentrated efforts to put the other person first, and to affirm. Criticism is curbed, checked; cut off while still on the lips. I retrain my mind, my impulses, and think of Roses and Sit Ups.
Gentle kisses, lingering hugs, and hope unfurls.
The rainy cold day passes. My sister arrives for a coffee date. Over thick fudgy chocolate cake, and then again over cardboard coffee cups, we talk. I venture out raw but vague. Later under a dripping raindrop windshield she prays for me, squeezing my knee. Yellow daffodils bob in the gentle rain outside.
A weekend of gentle kindness and grace unfurls beauty and strength and joy in a marriage-- and in the family. A teen apologizes. A couple cuddles and talks.
All’s well with the world again.
Thank you, Abba.