Hope for all our marriages + fathering + mothering – and how not to let doing hard things harden you.
Mr. Steady is still unpacking clothes and unpacking his heart + soul to his two favorite girls when I say these words that’d been burning in mine: “I’m trying to get back to seeing you here again – you know, as my husband.” I say. And perhaps before they hit his ear, the Holy Spirit had me taste these words in my own mouth. But there was no collecting them back.
“Why would you say that…where did that come from? You’d never have said that to me before…” He says trying to search my face for answers. For anything.
But there was a hardness I didn’t know had taken root.
Because you see, doing hard things reveal hidden strengths you never imagined you had, but if you don’t surrender those lonely + bitter places to the Holy Spirit, hard things will harden you. Doing hard things can harden you. They will harden your heart to love, to peace, to unbridled joy. They will harden your heart to celebrating answered prayers, like your Steady man coming home. He came home…couldn’t I simply rejoice in that?
See? Hard things can do hard things to you.
Just after our 3rd Anniversary in June 2018, and shortly before our Wonder-girl turned One, Mr. Steady packed his bags and turned his back on a job that had kept our family – though financially secure – apart in every way for one whole year. He was willing to start over again.
There’s always grace waiting for those willing to start over again. Willing to go back to the drawing board of all that you thought you knew. Willing to unearth the raw of all your plans and hopes and let God do a do-over.
There’s always grace for Steady Men.
Steady enough to be secure in decisions that pull back every security on their finances and perhaps everything else. Steady enough to shrug away people’s expectations and opinions and choose your family. And say, “I’m coming home.”
I’m coming for everything God says I can have. I’m following the leading of His Spirit.
Steady men. It takes courage to be them.
It takes courage to go against the grain. It takes courage to take the narrow way. The way you know may well throw your whole life, your hopes and plans up in the air and leave you bare and raw and insecure in all kinds of places, yet you choose it anyway. Because we keep finding that what may seem like foolishness to the world could be your wisest step of all.
Steps that lead you home – lead you to laying down your own plans and picking up God’s for you.
And you know what else it takes courage to do? To come home to a wife with a hardened heart, who’s walking + working through hard emotions – and it takes courage to sit with her to have hard conversations.
Steady men. They’ll wait for as long as it takes. They’ll do whatever it takes.
And with every conversation since, we’ve unearthed emotions we didn’t know had been deeply rooted.
Because even with all the beautiful things that motherhood brings; parenting (seemingly alone) for one year had done something to me. Beautiful things yet hard things had taken root.
Yes, I’d found courage and strengths in places God had hidden in me. Yes, this whole mama-hood journey had made me go searching for these things in hard places – and hard days when I cried myself to sleep and wondered if I would ever be enough, measure up to all of this. But I didn’t know that in the midst of all of these changing things, I was building a shield, a wall that would let me begin to focus and do the things I had to do well. Show up well.
But I also didn’t know that these walls left me feeling alone, unreachable and hard.
So on days when Mr. Steady would grab me and search my face, my heart for something, for anything, I was searching too. Searching for my way back to him.
But just like His sons, God is so so steady. Steady enough to come down and help you rebuild broken things. Steady enough to remake your heart to a heart of flesh. Steady enough to redeem your hurts and your pain. Steady enough to use all the places that crushed you, and pressed you to give you New Wine.
A new fire in your heart.
And yea, it doesn’t always look like New Wine - but if with every grab, and every hug, and every kiss, and every soft answer, you take one more sip, you let your heart be made over again – you’ll find it to be just as sweet as He promised.
“We’ve changed, we’ve grown, we are so much better – and even content with nothing.” I say, as we fold laundry.
“Yes – it took time, but we got here.” He says.
Because it’s true with one choice after the next, we’ve had to live with less and sometimes almost empty-handed, but we’ve been here – full-hearted.
With this new fire within and between us, this renewed romance makes me chuckle on days like this. Here + now. Because with every uncertain thing – with every changing thing, we’ve been here – loving in the face of hard things. We’ve been taking root all over again. And it’s different this time.
Because it took time, it feels like a harvest everyday.
And our Wonder-girl watches us pluck this harvest – with every chuckle, every giggle, every hug, every kiss and every snuggle.
And I chuckle here because I think on the times I thought it was over – when everything had gone dry and I thought we would stay in a desert place, but God has made our marriage, our home, His redeeming place.
Because there’s hope for us all – there’s hope for dry places, for dead things, for failing relationships, breaking marriages, weary parenting – because our God stands in the path of shattered things. Rebuilding, remaking and resurrecting.
There’s hope for the husband waiting for his wife to want him again, the wife waiting to be seen by her husband, the father waiting for his baby to fall in love with him – because one day, soon, “daddy” will be her favorite word and his embrace will be her safest place.
There’s always hope, because these pruning days are the hard days that precede the beauty-days.