Miguel and I have had some serious talks lately. About us and about a particular time in our lives...a time that neither of us really like to talk about because it was not a good time. And besides, every time we did try to talk about it, we just ended up fighting. Yeah, you know, one of those things...a thing that both of you would rather just stuff in a box and put on the back shelf hoping that it will just disappear, except that it doesn't. It just keeps sneaking back out of the box and popping back up to hurt us when we least expect it. We would just stuff it back in and shelve it again, only to have it come back to hurt us again and again...in Celebrate Recovery, we're learning that insanity can be defined as doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. Like turning a light switch on and off even though the light bulb is burned out and then getting angry that flipping the switch doesn't turn the light on. So just a wee bit of insanity there on our part...
Since God's working on both of us and we are desiring truth in the inward parts (Psalm 51:6) and wanting to deal with our 'stuff', we've been taking this particular box off of the back shelf and opening it up to see if we can work through this thing instead of denying its existence.
It's not been our favorite thing to do. We've had to say some hard things to each other...things that are incredibly hard to hear and say. Turns out, though, that it was worth the pain of working through these issues because we did it and we survived and we conquered. Turns out that there were some major misunderstandings...turns out Miguel thought I was purposefully being difficult and having a bad attitude and resentment towards him for moving me away from my missionary friends when it was only that I was struggling to handle the heat, the stress of multiple moves, my fourth pregnancy, homeschooling three young children, loneliness from feeling isolated from communication with friends and family...turns out that I felt abandoned and rejected by him when he didn't seem to want to listen when I brought my concerns to him when it was that he was having trouble hearing the way I chose to present those concerns...turns out that he felt uncomfortable with the way I was not acting in culturally appropriate ways and that he felt that it was limiting and negatively affecting his ministry...turns out that we weren't taking our cultural differences into account or talking about those differences and how they were affecting our perception of each others' hearts and motives. Turns out we each were able to own our part of the problem and repent and ask for forgiveness.
I don't know that we've taken care of all of the walls we've built between us, but we're well on our way to completing our own little (huge?) DIY demolishing and rebuilding project here and it feels good. Not like oh goody, we get to dig into some deep hurts, but good in that we're cleaning house, coming to place of understanding and finding new unity. We're choosing to fall in love with each other all over again and trying to be sensitive to each other's cultural point of view.
As hard as these last few months have been for us personally and in our ministry, I am totally thanking and praising God for where He's brought us and how He's working. Instead of obsessing about what went wrong and on the 'if onlys', I am choosing to thank Him for all things, the good, the bad and the ugly because He's redeeming those things and working them out for good. I am truly finding joy in these trials (James 1:2-8) because James was right, those trials are working to help us grow in character and patience. We're recognizing our own faults and how we might have contributed to each situation both with each other and in our ministry and being intentional about facing hard things. We're working to give up the right to be understood and well thought of by others and the right to defend ourselves and we're handing our reputation to God to defend and protect as He sees fit* (that doesn't mean that aren't things we still need to address with other people, just that our attitude is one of a desire for God to make His truth known and reconciliation and not acting out of anger or bitterness). We know that there may come a point where we will have to walk away still misunderstood and misjudged and while that might be hard to do, we think we're okay with that.
I think that's called growing up and that's a good thing.
*I want to give credit to a dear friend who is helping us walk through this process...a lot of these are her words, not ours...isn't it awesome how God provides help in time of need?