Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Mix Tape :: Track One

If you are of the High Fidelity generation, you no doubt have always dreamed of your major crush making you the illustrious Mix Tape. Before we were dating, my husband was in a few garage bands, and had made a mix just for me (I think he'd had a little crush on me back then) of his band's performances, so as to include almost all the songs in their repertoire (this was per my request, but he had clearly spent quite some time on it). On the cover, he spelled out his name phonetically, in quotes, because everyone was always getting it wrong. I remember thinking, "I know how to say your name, silly!" Little did either of us know I would one day be the recipient of all the mispronounciations.

That was the closest he got to making me a true mix tape until 2006 when he ripped my heart to shreds and started his long difficult journey to recovery from addiction. This new one, he made during our 2-month separation...a compilation of songs that represented Us, and our struggle to figure out marriage in the midst of life's onerous trials. That's not how I imagined receiving my mix tape, to say the least; but I still can't listen to it without full-on crying. The songs ring truer and more deeply today than they did those long four years ago. Photo courtesy of Ani-Bee on Flikr

Track One :: Ginny Owens, If You Want Me To

The pathway is broken and the signs are unclear
And I don't know the reason why you brought me here
But just because you love me the way that you do
I'm gonna walk through the valley if you want me to

'Cause I'm not who I was when I took my first step
And I'm clinging to the promise you're not through with me yet
So if all of these trials bring me closer to you
Then I will go through the fire if you want me to

It may not be the way I would've chosen
When you lead me through a world that is not my home
But you never said it would be easy
You only said I'd never go alone

So when the whole world turns against me and I'm all by myself
And I can't hear you answer my cries for help
I'll remember the suffering your love put you through
And I will go through the valley if you want me to

I remember after that first disclosure in May of 2000 feeling so confused, angry, disgusted, alone and in such a really dark place that I longed deeply for the Light. I remember listening to the car radio and not being able to change it from the cheesy Christian station, because anything that didn't fill my ears with pictures and words of pure hope and goodness was just too, too dark for me. My emotions were extremely fragile.

This is a song that was very popular at the time and it played every day. Every time I heard this song, I chose to believe. I made it my prayer. I just want to dissect a couple of lines real quick:

Heck yeah, the pathway is broken! The signs are unclear? It's like Dr. Seuss came in and redecorated my entire existence! I no longer know the man I thought I grew up with, fell in love with, married and had babies with. Which way do I go? What do I do now? In those first months and years, choosing to believe that God loves me perfectly (and He's the only one that ever will) and that He's completely trustworthy--choosing to believe this--gave me the courage I needed to keep walking forward through this valley. There have been changes in elevation over the years, but it has been 10 years, and I'm still hiking an incline. I thank God that He has given me more and more evidence of the mountain top, like a sunrise...taking a decade to begin spreading over the peaks.

I'm not who I was when I took my first step... Thank God! But what does that mean? That now I can handle more painful things? Do I have the wisdom to deal with this pain? I didn't feel like it. At the very least, these lines spoke to how I am changing still. I am growing into the person God wants me to be, and this is an opportunity within that promise of God to myself.

When you lead me through a world that's not my own... This was a welcome reminder that this heartache is NOT okay, it is NOT what God wants for us, it is NOT normal. I wasn't meant for this world...this is a crappy waiting room. But I am not alone. This is friggin' hard, but I am never, never alone here.

The last stanza... I can relate to all of it. There have been times when I felt so utterly alone with no one who understood, and crying out to God, only to hear my own echo in a cold, dark room. I don't think God left me, but I think sometimes I wasn't ready to be moved forward, so God had me wait. In retrospect, I believe much of my pain in those early years was because of my fantasy marriage-skin being ripped off of my flesh. I didn't even realize that this needed to be done in order to understand Truth and to live in it. So selfish! I'm sure I loved myself much more than I loved my husband then. But there is nothing that I can experience that could be worse than what Jesus experienced on (and on the way to) the cross. If I believe what Jesus accomplished on Calvary at all, then I suppose I can go through a valley when I'm told to go through a valley.

In the following performance, Ginny has tweaked it a bit from the recorded version, and added a verse...I love it! She has a wonderful story, including how being blind has caused her challenges that she chose to walk through with her Creator.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Emoting Responsibly

I need to share my story. It just burns on my fingertips. Enough with the doubting and overthinking and just get on with it.

I will be sleeping on the couch tonight. And not because of the baby. The last few days have brought on a completely humbling experience and my head is taking it's sweet time to sort things out. There are so many angles to this one issue we're dealing with, I don't even want to describe it. But here is the part I own:

At times I have been so bitter about not being able to go to my husband for support and encouragement when I am discouraged, depressed or spiritually confused. I understand that he is in recovery and sometimes barely keeping his own head above water as he sorts out the life that brought him to today. But I long for him to be strong when I am weak, to hold me up when I feel like I am drowning! And maybe this is what husbands are supposed to do. I'm not even sure. But I know that to automatically expect this of him is wrong. If he does it, that's good. If I expect it, that's wrong. Because addiction or no addiction, he is still a man and could be in any sort of mood, and possibly unprepared for my need of rescue. Only God stands firm as a refuge 100% of the time. I am realizing that I have been holding out hope for the one day that my husband will be equal to God and be ever ready and waiting for my emotional tsunamis. That is not called recovery. That is called unrealistic.

Even when I am hurting and emotional, I need to be consistent in my love for others. Because I have been avoiding God in my attempt to wait patiently for my husband to reach divine status (how supportive of me!) I will fall recklessly into emotion until I cannot see past my own pain in those moments. If I am going to come to my husband for understanding, the mature thing is to make sure I'm not dragging with me things that are known triggers for him. I need to consider him, even when I am overcome with emotion. I need to remember that even when I am very emotional, I still have the capacity and responsibility to make choices that reflect love for God and others and even myself.
"Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don't condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you'll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you'll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity." Luke 6.37-38, The Message

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There. I can agree with that. If only you knew the tumultuous conversation that has been going on around this lesson for me! Feminism, entitlement, codependency, body image and a heaping dose of personal pride, some useless and hurtful gossip shared by the husband... there are a lot of lies swirling around in my head that we need to just lay to rest; they are so painful. And I think they are beside the point, just wind blustering around the steady words of the Father.
"We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!
"But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love." I Cor. 13.12-13, The Message