Last night we had the most intimate experience we’ve ever had as a couple. It wasn’t sexy. It was far more intimate than that.
Last night I held my husband in my arms as he sobbed. It is almost too intimate to write about. And of course, it’s not only my experience. It is mostly his.
But as is usually the case, writing helps me process information. It forces me to organize my thoughts and reflect deeply on the meaning of feelings and possible outcomes of situations. And also as usual, I can feel God working in us right now. Drawing us deeper and closer than ever before. Giving us all we need to prepare us for what is next.
My biggest concern when I married Bill was how different our life experiences had been at the time we wed. By August 6, 2005, I had already lived a life full of loss and disappointment. I had already wrestled with how a good God could take away the lives of young friends. I had come to terms with living in a world where a father, a good man, could be ripped away from his young family too soon. I had been heartbroken, financially devastated and rebuilt a new life, seemingly from the ashes.
By no means was I free from trouble or sin. By no means had I completely learned to trust the Lord and lean not on my own understanding. It wasn’t until many years later I really began to understand how to live for eternity and not for today. I am still growing.
But I knew enough to know that my husband had live a charmed life. Not perfect by any means, but pretty darn close. He had been seconds from disaster a few times in his life but always got off Scott-free, for the most part, and had not experienced deep struggle. And importantly, he had not experienced any loss. I knew someday we would face those experiences together. And I feared how he would respond.
Facing loss and significant challenges in life bring out a person‘s true character. I was marrying an untested man. However I saw in him the potential to be great. I could see his heart, I knew his faith, and certainly knew of his work ethic and strong desire to be a father. I had every reason to believe that when the time came, he would be up to the task of growing through challenges.
Bill has been highly stressed lately. He is doing a great job for his clients but the environment in real estate right now is incredibly challenging. Many realtors are doing very well, and we have been blessed and won’t complain about being busy. But everyone on all sides of the business is looking forward to a more stable market with less stress in the system. The current market requires almost 24/7 availability for a realtor on behalf of his clients. And Bill always rises to the occasion. Not because he sees dollar signs, but because how he shows up for people is important to him. It is part of who he is to do as he says, follow through, and be of service to others. He is also training a new assistant, as well as his wife. While Allison and I are learning quickly, we still lean on him for almost every single transaction. He is still guiding us on using all of the various systems. He still touches all of the marketing.
But what put Bill over the top and caused him to sob on my shoulder had very little to do with work stress. It was just the foundation on which the climb to the peak of his limit was laid. It was his father‘s 86th birthday which put him over the top.
Friday night Bill rushed home to make a nice dinner for his Dad and prepare our house for a small family gathering. It was an intense night after a long workday and one of those where it seemed like every little thing that could go wrong did. To top it off, I wasn’t being much of a help to him. I was frustrated with some earlier miscommunication and what seemed like an expectation that I was to do a lot of legwork for the party even though I was stressed and working too. We were both frustrated and ashamed we didn’t make time to buy G-Pops a meaningful gift.
During the party, we had one of those “hidden” fights. You know, the kind where you’re in the pantry or somewhere else you can’t be seen and you think, or at least hope, that none of your guests can hear you whisper yelling at each other. That kind of fight.
We kept it together but the tension was palpable. Neither one of us liked that it happened on his father’s special day and it clearly caused discomfort for our guests.
Later on after the family was gone and the kids were in bed, we had the fight without the whispers. And that’s when Bill finally crumbled, collapsing into my arms and confessing for the first time what was behind the anxiety and anger was the recognition that we might not have many birthdays left with his father.
For the first time in his life my husband was facing the fact that his father, a man he used to have lunch or a long talk with every day, would not be with us forever. He was emotionally torn between the trade-offs we have to make as parents, children, and business owners. He was feeling the hours he has left with his father slip away and fighting for a way to make more of the time we have while giving our family and our company what they need as well.
And that’s some really hard stuff. That’s the stuff that is so difficult to navigate in this earthly life , even when you have deep faith. But just as he always does, God is coming through for us. He is providing us support in ways that we never expected which will help us have more time together and more time with our family. Our business continues to grow, and he continues to bring people and resources to us which will help us manage it. Serving clients and serving others while opening up opportunities for us. Just this week he made an unexpected way for us to bring more support into our home and business.
We just need to step out into faith and trust him and his provision. We need to let go of some things and let others support and bless us. And we need to take the time and invest it with Bill’s dad, our children, our friends, and each other. God never promised this life will be easy, but he does promise to give us what we need when we need it when we let go and trust him. As usual he is coming through for us.
However having more time through the expansion of the support we have at work and at home is not the end of the story. There’s also the issue of how Bill will react to loss when it happens. Our fight with the resulting tears and intimate conversation is part of God preparing Bill for that inevitability. Nobody’s earthly life remains charmed forever. And I believe that through his faith and his character my husband is once again rising to the occasion.
Bill and I have been through so much together since that day in August almost 16 years ago. I am so grateful I ignored the seed of doubt I had about him being untested and went through with marrying my best friend and partner. I am so thankful to God for giving me the experiences in my life to help me support and guide my husband as he goes through his. We were quite literally made for each other and every life experience we’ve had up to this point he will use for his glory and good. If we let him.
Our prayer every day is to be open to his plan and his blessing.
While I’m not excited about facing the loss of loved ones in our life and I hope we have Roger with us for many years to come, I am excited to see the way God will continue to refine my husband and make him and even stronger father and leader in our lives. We count it all as joy.