Fixing the pyramid: Marriage Letters

Your back is permanently stooped from bearing burdens. Everything I'm too weak to do, you are strong enough to carry. I marvel at it, your endurance, your love, your perseverance when I'm giving up.

I had brushed my teeth, done my hair, and I was looking for socks. I told you I was leaving, going to tend some friendships that desperately need tending. We'd already agreed. But there was this defeat in your voice when you said, "Will you be back for supper?" I looked at the clock. 4:30 p.m. No way. You looked forlorn. I asked you to sit on the blue chair and talk to me, and we sat across from each other in our messy front room. The first 10 times I asked you what you wanted me to do, you said, "I don't know," with your frustrated shrug and your half angry, half brokenhearted eyes. This time, though, I waited. I prayed. And you told me what you really wanted, laid your heart bare in a few simple words,

"I don't know what's best. I love these people, too. But I miss you. And I just wanted to have a quiet evening at home with you."

And so I put on my mismatched socks, and we cleaned up the kitchen island together. Then you made chicken piccata. We had a glass of wine, we laughed at dinner with our children, we ate that feast you'd made. It was so good - this time with you.

I remember a time I had you at the top of my priority list. We'd been on the rocks and adrift at sea, and I knew it was time, crisis time. Do or die time.

Sickness crowded in. You are so tender. Such a servant. A helper, a fixer. When I was drowning, you drained the water out of the house and settled me gently into bed, went to work rehabilitating our home, our routines, our lives. I forgot about priorities I used to hold dear, because my vision was cloudy, and I was so wounded.

I put myself alone on an island on that bed with God. I was distracted by the suffering of others, by my "calling" to help others. Our children were begging for attention. Family events crowded the calendar. Somehow, you floated upward until you hovered with our parents and our siblings somewhere just below our marginalized church life.

Last night, we talked deep into the soul of our son. The two of us, teaming up. It's been way too long. We've settled again for ships passing in the night. Trading responsibilities and stalling in survival mode. Why do we let ourselves do that?

I'm calling an end to it (again). I'm sure I'll have to do this re-arranging of the pyramid of priorities a hundred times if not a thousand. You get to be top priority, right next to God, where you're supposed to be. Because when I follow your lead, when you LEAD, everything falls into place. The stars align, the world starts spinning again, and pretty soon we're thriving instead of surviving.

So here's to day 1 of thriving again!