Micro-Story: Family

For something different, a small story. (I can understand that I’ve made a few questionable choices in how I have written this).


It was a chilly morning but the crisp weather was warm compared to the glaciers which moved slowly through her veins. She had made her emotions a block of ice, impenetrable and unyielding. Though she loved him, truly she did, she still had to leave. After 53 years of marriage it had just become too much. You could push a heavy load for only so long, and she had pushed it far beyond her capability. It was not defeat but the end of a heroic effort that could not be continued. He didn’t appreciate the struggle and hurt it was causing her. An injury sustained during the Vietnam War had robbed them of the children. Even still, they’d never been able to enjoy the freedom of independence that no children should bring. She could feel her husband’s eyes following her as he walked to the end of the driveway, saying nothing. They’d both said all they had to say and neither of them had been able to compromise. She knew he was hurting inside, beneath the stoic facade and she fought to maintain the same facade. She would not break down and relent. Not this time. She was finally thinking of herself, of escape. She focused on her movements, not her emotions, and carried her suitcase the final metres to the car idling on the road.

Her older brother stood on the other side of the car feeling awkward. He didn’t know where to look, much less what to do. There were no tears between his sisters and her husband; that made it almost worse. He couldn’t fault either of them and didn’t want to choose a side. He liked his brother-in-law, and though they’d lived a difficult life his brother-in-law had always cared for his sister well. When his sister called last night asking for a ride and a place to stay he had to help. She was going to ‘find her own place’ at the age of 70. The situation seemed so odd, so sad. Why was there a lump in his throat? He wished he was anywhere but here, participating in this sad event. He took the suitcase from his sister and heaved it into the boot. His sister, moved quickly to sit in the passenger side of the car. He looked at his brother-in-law with pursed lips and gave a sad wave goodbye. Surely they would still see each other, although it seemed likely it would be far less now.

“Goodbye,” her husband called. She pretended not to have heard him. He watched her sit in the car without so much as a look in his direction, her gaze now fixated out the windscreen. He wanted to go to her and beg but knew she wouldn’t listen. Communication between the two of them had been severed and the cost to re-establish it was one he couldn’t pay. He wanted to give her one last kiss or one last hug. He couldn’t bear it if she responded to the affection like a stone, like so many times in recent months. He had always worried, at the back of his mind, about how he might cope if she died before him. The grief would be too much. Never had he considered she might leave of her own volition before death came. He wondered if there had been anything more he could have said to make her stay. It was unlikely – they’d both talked so much over several years – and yet, he wished he found the words that made a difference. The difficulties of life had masked the beauty of their love in her eyes. The obligation was too heavy and it had never torn at his heart and soul so viciously as it did as his brother-in-law climbed into the car.

“Where is Aunty going?” his 45-year-old brother asked cheerfully from behind the safety of the fence. He smiled brightly with simple delight, “Are we still going to see the ducks today?”

Advertisements

Pillars of Life

I, by the boundless grace of God (and greatly-deserving-of-mention, grace of my beautiful wife), have a fantastic marriage.

But it wasn’t always that way. We certainly had our difficulties in the beginning. Two people adjusting to “become one” created a fair bit of friction as we learned to think of each other before ourselves. There were some tense walks around the block powered by anger fumes 🙂 Not to mention a lot of tight-jaws. (It wasn’t a case of grinning and bearing it, because there were times when we couldn’t grin).

In that early time, I knew I was out of my depth. I couldn’t do this marriage thing on my own. I didn’t know how to do it. I was smart enough to know that ones’ parents are never the right answer when it comes to sourcing marital harmony. (My parents are Godly and wise but they are not unbiased: parents seldom are).

HusbandAdviceAnd so I reached out to a man with a couple of decades experience on me. He was a respected man at church, who visibly embodied Christ-like behaviours and attitudes. He was raising two great teenage sons and had a good marriage himself. So we got together for breakfast, chatted and prayed together.

As it turned out, I think we only met a few times before he moved house to a considerable distance; which put an end to our meetings. But those few chats, earlier on in my marriage, were a much-needed pressure valve. His wisdom and care helped me to get over the speed bumps of the difficult period.

That someone (who was not far off a stranger) would care enough to spend his time writing down Bible verses and meeting with me, was a testament to his character and his view on the importance of marriage. He, by providing wisdom and a listening ear was a pillar of life to my young marriage.

I encourage you, seek out pillars when you need them, and lend your strength to others when they ask of it.

And finally, try watching this without getting emotional…

Other marriage related posts:

 

Every Man’s Battle

Revery man's battleecently I’ve re-read “Every Man’s Battle” by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker. It’s a brutally honest book that acknowledges the trench-warfare-like struggles most men have with sexual purity. The authors don’t sugar-coat reality:

“Before men experience victory over sexual sin, they’re hurting and confused. Sexual immorality in our society is so subtle we sometimes don’t recognise it.”

The authors encourage the reader to fully examine their hearts (and actions) and offer practical tips for freeing oneself from a cycle of sexual compromise and sin. They openly acknowledge it’s going to be hard battle – with backward steps as well as forward. The cost of failure, however, is more than any man can afford. They encourage the reader to choose manhood, purity and honour.

“Holiness,” as they define it simply is, “a series of right choices.”

Sexual purity is a challenge for men of all ages and stages in life. Let’s tackle it head-on, and be men who learn to throw off the shackles of the enemy, and stop him from also oppressing those we love.

Holding Hands

Recently the beautiful Mrs Ezard and I attended a 1 day marriage workshop by Canadian author and popular blogger, Sheila Wray-Gregoire and her hilarious husband Keith. We attend such courses not because something is wrong in our marriage but so that nothing goes wrong. Consider it preventative maintenance on the most important investment in our lives.

It was a great day, filled with honesty, a lot of humour and some helpful tips for improving your marriage.

otters-holding-handsSheila explained that drifting apart from each other is a natural phenomenon. You don’t need to do anything to drift, but you do need to take action to prevent the drift. Otherwise it will happen. She mentioned how otters (who sleep on their back in the water) hold hands to prevent drifting apart. Couples likewise need to find ways to metaphorically “hold hands”.

She encouraged us to write a list of things that we would appreciate and share them with our spouse. (The rules were: a) non-sexual b) 2-3 minutes time investment c) low-or-no cost). Everyone, no matter how busy life is, should be able to do at least two per-day for their spouse, and thus, show love and consideration.

As everyone knows, sometimes there can be hard conversations in marriage. Really hard conversations. One way she suggested you could broach those conversations was to ask each other “where do we want to be in five years time?” That question, can help tease out some of the things you’d like to change, without it being quite so confrontational. Not to mention, it’s a good question to be asking yourselves… and then planning the actions steps you need to take to get there).

Marriage should be treated like a marathon, not a sprint… make it last 🙂

The Sacred Flame

This came to me the other morning. I haven’t spent long on it, so it could probably use some polish… but I have a synopsis to do.

I guess it’s a poem… of sorts? (My apologies to the real poets).

 

As Initiates we watched in wonder the Sacred Flame

Intrigued by its subtle dance, its warmth and its glow

We longed and hoped one day to receive

Our own flame springing forth

 

My wife and I are Keepers of the Sacred Flame

Priest and Priestess, dedicated to its care

Sanctified to keep it burning at all times

It’s a job for two; one cannot do it alone

 

Studying it, we learn to read its mood

To sense its movement, anticipate its need

Oak to burn long, spruce to burn fast, hickory for heat and aroma

There is a time for each, to keep it burning bright

 

We must learn to love the flame

To tend it always, through the long watches of the night

Protecting it from breeze and strong gale

Guarding always its purity and beauty

 

We have become accustomed to its presence

It is for us, a cherished Friend

That warms the body, and makes glad the heart

A flame reaching upwards, toward its Creator.

The Stories I want to Read

“Marriage is a lifestyle” were the first words spoken at a recent wedding we attended.

It is so true. Marriage is not an event, a single point in time, but an ongoing choice. As I’ve written on numerous occasions I’m a huge fan of marriage. I have a fantastic marriage and so I know how beneficial a great marriage can be. Having a great marriage can take a lot of work, but the dividends it pays are the greatest profit in life you’ll ever make.

Divorce rates are too high. Daily we see in our media stories of celebrity couples breaking up, divorcing or caught being unfaithful to the one they promised to love to the exclusion of all others.

But where are the good stories? The stories of couples who have stayed together through the ups and downs of life? Where are the stories of people who know the true worth of what binds them together? They are the stories I want to read, the testimonies I want to hear.

Let’s have a book full of stories of people who have successfully chosen to ‘put their spouse first’ and who together have endured the storms of life, and come through much better for them.

Marriage Is Forever

I am a huge fan of marriage and believe that marriage is intended to be forever or as used to be popular, ‘until death do us part’. Marriage can be really hard work but if you invest in your marriage then it pays dividends a thousand times over.

Both spouses needs to learn how to forgive, be patient and support each other. Both must learn that it is no longer about I but about we. As a friend of mine puts it, “You take your car in for regular maintenance, why would you not treat the most important relationship you have in the same way… doing regular checkups on it?” Or as Pastor Craig Groeschel from Life.Church says, “Why would anyone be happy with a 50% chance of marriage success? For anything in your life wouldn’t you do something to try and give it a higher chance of success?”

As a man blessed with a great marriage and one who wants others to also enjoy the fruit of such blessing I cannot highly recommend enough the lecture series Christ-Centred Marriage by Dr Bryan Chapell. The lecture series is available from Covenant Theological Seminary website and you will need to sign-up to download it. (Obviously this is presenting the Christian biblical instructions for marriage).

It is a profound, challenging and inspiring listen. Carrying on with the car analogy, I call this a major service. It is time well-invested.