He meant it as a joke, but I took it to heart.
I accepted his apologies, knowing he truly meant them and there was no real malice in what he had said. He hadn’t known how fragile I was – how it took all my nerve to show him this portion of my heart.
Then it was a joke to him.
I forgave him, I really did. And yet I have caught myself at least three times since then – keeping to myself, preferring autonomy, avoiding vulnerability. It’s hard to overcome, to be open and willing to be hurt again…and again.
My stomach churns as I think about the times when I have been in the other position – tearing him down when I should be his encourager. Inflicting wounds when my words ought to bring healing.
We could live parallel lives in relative peace, taking care of our respective responsibilities and enjoying one another’s company now and then while avoiding the nerves…and possible dynamite. We would be “loving” each other, but from a safer distance. Or we could reach out for something more. Intimate friendship. Painful, sometimes ugly. Refining, fierce, real love and intimate friendship. Oneness.
Lately we’ve been reading Real Marriage (you can find the sermon series here) by Mark and Grace Driscoll (all his idea! He’s a keeper, 🙂 oh I know!). It’s brought up very challenging, tearful, taking-ground kind of discussion. I think our marriage and the two of us as individuals are going to be better (holier) after reading this book and making changes as the Spirit gives us the wisdom and ability. There have been so many powerful things we’ve learned while reading it, but perhaps the most important one is that one of the best things we can each do for our marriage is learn how to be a better friend.
“A real friendship is about both people giving and taking in every season without keeping a record of what is given and taken.” p. 38
He is my beloved, and he is my friend. (5:16) I hate being hurt and I really hate hurting. This is the ugly part of love, isn’t it? The part when two people love each other so much but a simple miscommunication happens and Satan and our flesh show up right in that moment and try to drive a wedge between the closest of friends.
By God’s grace, we will overcome…resisting the temptation to shy away from the tender places and “hot spots”…resisting the temptation to just keep to ourselves, to stay safe…and lonely.
Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned. (SoS 8:6-7)