What Are You Going To Do When You Have to Face Winter?

Polar Vortex doesn’t begin to describe what it feels like to face a Chicago winter. Unfortunately for us Windy-city dwellers, the cold has already started. (My children are currently hunkering down in the basement rather than trick-or-treating in what our weather forecasters affectionately call “lake-chill effects.”)

Today, as I watched  snow whip around my backyard, PTSD set in and I wondered out loud: how are we going to get through another winter?

I think that’s a question a lot of people ask when they realize they’re about to go through a winter season: whether it be an illness, a move, divorce, death, walking through recovery, or sadness.  Just the thought of having to push through one more hard thing can cause panic, rage, foolish behavior, and all out psychosis.

So, how are you going to get through winter? Well, is it too early to whisper the word Advent?

Advent is the reminder that we don’t have to lie down and wait to die. We can move. We can plan. We can come together in the cold and be joyful. Advent reminds us that while we wait, in the midst of pain, there can be something memorable. Something precious.

Advent reminds us to hope and to hold on to hope, even when we know that spring isn’t coming anytime soon.

Advent reaches out to us like a parent loving on a colicky-child with whooping-cough and whispers, “it’s going to be okay.”

Advent teaches us how to walk day-by-day with patience and perseverance until we see the tide turn and the light shine through once again.

Advent wraps around us like our favorite blanket and allows us to be real with our fear and concerns, all the while promising that it will stick with us and guide us to a better place.

And so, even though advent doesn’t begin for four more weeks, I think the Christmas music is going to have to come on the radio in our house earlier this year. Because I’m going to need Advent if I’m going to make it for five more months of those dear arctic wind chills I’ve become so accustomed to hearing about.

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What it’s like when you damn near kill each other. A post about marriage.

It was the worst sermon you’d ever want preached at your wedding. In it, the priest that married my husband and I went on-and-on for what seemed like hours about how we were not good for each other. He listed all the reasons that we were unfit. Unmatched. Destined for failure. This, in front of all our guests.

Way to lay us bare, dude.

And then, in the culmination of this homily, he said:

But Pam and Tom know one thing. They know that, without God, they’re not going to make it. And for that reason alone, because they know that they-know-that-they-know that this relationship is desperate even before they begin… Because of that, they may be one of the most prepared couples that I’ve ever met at the altar.

Hello, guests. Welcome to my marriage.

I wish I could say that things have changed since that wedding day. But the truth is that in ten years, we’ve damn near killed each other. We’ve yelled. We’ve slammed doors. We’ve both walked out and gone for walks. LONG walks. We’ve deliberately pushed each other’s buttons. We’ve run to other things to escape from living this life with each other — from TV to coffee, to work, to anything that could lessen this uncomfortability that is this truth: I am stuck with you.

And yet, I can confidently say that he … He is my very best friend. Which is to say, we are either incredibly unhealthy, or we’ve found something that is true about covenant relationships. And what’s true is that at some point you stop asking the question “Why did you hurt me?” And you start to ask the question “Why are you hurting, and how can I help?” And that, my friends, that is where you meet God in a marriage.

We’ve stopped taking each other’s misbehaviors personally. And it’s taken God holding our hands and making sure that we don’t act like five-year olds, demanding justice, to do it.

What’s real is that I’m not sure that either one of us isn’t going to go temporarily insane at some point in this life. What I do know is that the list that I walked into marriage with — you know the list that says “I vow to love you unless you … commit adultery, become a drunk, hit me, gamble away our life savings, or otherwise massively screw this up” — that list doesn’t exist anymore. (And no, my husband is not an alcoholic, or a gambler, or an abuser, but we all have our own demons). What’s left in it’s place is this brokeness for this man. I want Him to breathe deeply and grow and live fully. And I want to be the one that always encourages Him to go towards those things. Even if it means me boosting him up and me being left behind. And fortunately, I think he feels the same way.

And for the first time, I think I get why God made marriage and told us that it might give us a glimpse of what it means to be in relationship with Him.

All peace and love to you,

Pam