What I’ve learned in marriage: to wait

Confession: The other day I was texting with two friends at once. This is quite a feat for me, a slow texter. Fortunately, we were group messaging. Unfortunately, they were talking circles around me.

We were contemplating whether the rewards of attending a ladies’ seminar together would be worth the gigantic hurdles of a) the spouse permission process, signed in triplicate, b) babysitters, c) meals, d) adequate clothing for appearing in public at a fancy event, and e) how many of us will be pregnant by that time.

Hence the utter poverty of my texting approach, which comes out to roughly two words every fifteen minutes. I pretended I was driving and couldn’t endanger the lives of my children.

(Okay, I was driving. But not the whole time.)

One friend said, So how do you go about broaching this subject with your husband? Sometimes I really wish I could see into how these conversations go for other couples.*

I dodged, because it felt like too much to say:

In our house, it aalllll depends. He likes task lists by email, so he has a visual. He likes big conversations after the kids are in bed, but not just as we’re about to drop off to sleep. He likes to save the little things for when he’s *not working in his office, and the touchy things for when I’m *not simultaneously making supper, balancing a baby on one hip, directing several children in cleaning up the living room, listening to music, and opening the door so the cat can get outside. (This happens at our house.) There is an awful knack to picking the right time and medium.

You know how long that would have taken me to text!

But she persisted. I really want to know.

Okay, I said. Well.

What I do is I mention it sort of casually, like ‘Hey, today I was texting with x and x about whether we should try for Oasis this year or just hit the beach instead. Hahaha.’

(Which, regrettably, is true – but don’t forget the context of hahaha.)

And then I drop it entirely. I used to always follow up by pressing for an answer right away – ‘Well, what do you think about me going?’ – but after a while I realized it’s simply not how his brain works. So I drop the seed and let it go, and by the time I return to the topic a couple of days later, he’s had time to get used to the idea. Sometimes he even has a plan made.

That took just as long to text. But it is also smarter than it appears at first blush.

You know I’m trying to be more direct than in previous years. In saying this now, I’m not undermining being direct; I’m highlighting the fact that being direct does not mean being urgent, pushy, and non-strategic. I don’t know about your man, but mine likes time to think on things. He doesn’t think on things by talking about things. When I keep asking it’s like poking the same spot over and over: he develops a bruise, and winces away. He needs to answer in his own time.

So I lay it out casually (one time), and when it feels ripe I ask (one time) for real.

And then whether he says yes or no, whether he acts on the matter as lightning or as molasses, I try hard to keep my mouth shut.

Sometimes it even works.


P.S. I hope he is not reading this post. That would kind of give everything away, wouldn’t it?

* Unfortunately my phone ate our conversation, so this is not verbatim, but I will not be held responsible for accidents.

Out on a limb

Do you ever feel out on a limb with God?

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Scripture is packed with stories of men and women out on limbs and they sure sound great in the telling, several thousand years later, though you can’t help wondering

how Abraham felt, exactly, packing up that mountain with his son and a butcher knife

how Gideon felt sneaking up on the bad guys with a pitcher and a trumpet

how Elijah felt in the moment of dumping the twelfth barrel of water over a soggy fire pit with four hundred people watching

how Jochebed felt when she put her boychild into the Nile river in a homemade raft sort of thing and hoped it wouldn’t leak

how Ruth felt slipping into the tent of a man and adjusting his bedclothes.

Faith, says the Hebrews man, is the substance of things hoped for. Substance. Substance means stuff, not ideas. Faith is the butcher knife and the pitcher, the firewood and the cheap reed basket, the trumpet and the blanket of a man. Faith is assembling supplies: lining up a physical and utterly ridiculous substance that gives silent testimony to things not seen. That substance is a bet, if you will, on a God who has promised to come through.

Our job, as far I can see it, is to assemble the pieces.

Which gives a whole other level of meaning to that verse in Psalms.

The most uncomfortable part is not the gathering of supplies. It’s the moment immediately afterward, when all has been collected and we find there is nothing more to be done. The wood is arranged. The bad guys are sleeping. The baby is afloat.

And then we are poised.

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Poised feels to the principal players almost exactly like hung out to dry. Here in this position we have Naaman coming up from his sixth dip still leprous, Elijah praying for rain, Jesus suffocating on the cross. The stage is set. The sun is going down. The world is watching (and laughing in its sleeve).

Out on a limb. Do you still doubt He will come through for you?