“Confess [your] faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. . . .” ~ James 5:16a (KJV)
"The story of love is not important – what is important is that one is capable of love. It is perhaps the only glimpse we are permitted of eternity." ~ Helen Hayes
. . . Continued from last week
My friend and fellow-writer, Tom Parker, is one person I try to emulate when it comes to being honest and real in my columns. If some of you think I am “open to a fault,” you should read Tom’s writings. He has shared his personal struggles with faith, immortality, fatherhood and depression.
Tom’s recently released book, Dispatches from Kansas, is a collection of some of his best columns. (It is available through Amazon.com or by contacting Tom directly at email@example.com.) In the blurb I wrote for the back of his book, I stated in part: “Tom Parker is one of those rare individuals who have the courage to share their deepest and most intimate thoughts. His weekly column is a window into his very heart and soul – a sometimes tormented but always triumphant soul. . . .”
“We refuse to wear masks and play games. We don’t maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. . . . Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display, so that those who want to can see and judge for themselves in the presence of God.” ~ II Corinthians 4:2 (MSG)
Along those same lines, recently I saw Ruth Bell Graham (daughter of evangelist Billy Graham) on a Christian television talk show discussing her book titled, In Every Pew Sits a Broken Heart: Hope for the Hurting. Ruth Graham has been through two divorces and her teenage daughter had two babies. The first baby was put up for adoption and she kept the second one, a little boy who is now eight years old. Ms. Graham writes about that experience in her latest book titled, I’m Pregnant . . . Now What? – which she co-authored with Sara R. Dormon Ph.D. (They have also established a web site – www.forpregnancyhelp.com.) During the interview, Ruth Graham said: “Being transparent about our struggles and faults brings freedom, not shame.”
I couldn’t agree more. So many of us try to put up a façade in an attempt to fool people into thinking that everything in our life is always hunky-dory. How phony. The only way to salvage something good out of a painful or negative experience is to share that experience with others so that they can benefit from the lessons you learned and hopefully gain inspiration from hearing about how God helped you make it through your personal crisis.
Having said all that, I would like to continue last week’s Valentine column by sharing a snapshot from a not-so-pleasant moment in our married life – a time when I fell into self-pity (big time). To make matters worse, Keen and I forgot (or ignored) God’s number one rule for couples, which is: “Never let the sun go down on your anger.” Ephesians 4:26)
Even the happiest marriages hit rough spots when they have hurdles to overcome and differences to work out. So here’s my weekly dose of humble pie from a note I wrote to Keen about two years ago:
I was wrong.
I was wrong not to stop what I was doing and greet you with a smile and a kiss when you came home last night. Not because that’s my “obligation” as your wife, but because it sets the tone for the rest of the evening – what little bit of evening we had left. I was wrong to be so engrossed in the stresses of my day, that I couldn’t listen objectively when you told me about your day.
I was wrong to spiral down into a sea of self-pity by going on and on about how overwhelmed I was by the endless projects staring me in the face. I should be thankful God has allowed me to stay home during this time in our lives when most people would agree I “should” be working to support our family while you are in law school.
Sometimes I feel so close to God – but this is not one of those times. I am so far from being and acting like my Heavenly Father, it’s not even funny. I guess it just shows that I haven’t arrived and I never will arrive until I reach Heaven when all earthly sins are washed away for all eternity. But until then, I will try to remind myself of what the Bible says. Such as:
Be a doer of the Word and not a hearer only.
If I speak with the tongues of angels, but have not love, I am a clanging cymbal.
Wives, adapt yourselves to your husbands. (I’m still working on that with your new semester schedule – but I’ll get there)
It is better to live on a rooftop than with a nagging, contentious wife.
I know what you’re thinking right now. “That girl of mine: I can always count on her to admit when she’s wrong. It might take her a little while, but she always comes around.”
Well, you’re right – I was wrong.
Again. As usual.
Come to think of it, you didn’t do anything wrong. All you did was come home. But you came home to a grouchy, fault-finding wife who was feeling sorry for herself and looking for a fight. So I got one. And I’m sorry. I’m sorry I yelled at you. I’m sorry I wasted what precious time we did have together arguing about nothing. I paid a price though. I lost my peace. I’ve been up since about 2:00 a.m. and it’s 4:40 now. All the while you’ve been sleeping like a baby. That’s good. You deserve a good night’s sleep.
I love you, Keen. And I’m sorry for causing strife in our marriage. I felt like I had to write this, and I’m hoping it helps me to avoid making the same mistakes in the future. It’s never easy to admit when you’re wrong, but that’s what I want to do.
I was wrong, and I’m sorry.
I love you,
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” ~ I Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT)
'Cause you are
the one light
that shines on me
Without your love
God knows where I'd be
Lost without a prayer
Somewhere way out there
My soul would turn to dust
Heaven help me
If I ever lose your love
Heaven Help Me ~ recorded by Wynonna Judd
"Oh love, as long as you can love." ~ Ferdinand Freiligrath
Keen & Eileen at age 16 in Singapore and 25th anniversary in 2003