A testament of my mental health?
Although there are some days I wonder ...
Just several situations I've been thinking about lately.
I hear from a friend that she's getting divorced. They have nothing in common. They stayed together for the sake of their child. They live separate lives. Now 6 years later, they realize they can't salvage the relationship. They are done pretending. Another friend tells me "she is done." Done trying to make it work. Done trying to have the marriage she dreamed of. Done being married. It's casual conversation. It's said with a smile. I certainly don't claim to have a perfect marriage... ask my husband.
But I am committed to it.
There are obviously situations that warrant divorce, and I don't want to cause any hurt feelings for anyone who is or has gone through that experience. I certainly am not the one to be pointing any fingers at anyone. I'm talking about the people who don't even try. They expect marriage to be easy. They expect every day to be like a romance novel. They give up.
So how do you slip into that state of mind that living separate lives seems OK? Natural? Healthy? I'm sure it happens a little bit at a time. You sleep in the guest room once... and then it becomes a habit? You place a higher value on yourself or your friends just once, and that too becomes a habit?
I often take care of patients who tell me they've been married for 50+ years. I love to ask them how they did it. You know what I always hear?
ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS hear?
They didn't give up. They stuck it out even when it wasn't great. They knew that just as the difficult times would come, so would the good times. The continuous ebb and flow of marriage. And as I've grown older, this is a thought that has kept me going through the bad days, weeks or even months. I know that as bad as it may be today, it is guaranteed to change tomorrow.
I took care of a 20 year old young man with cerebral palsey this week. He has the mental abilities of about a one year old and is completely unable to do anything for himself. His mother continues to care for him at home and does an excellent job. Changing diapers for 20 years.... Feeding him through a feeding tube.... Sitting in hospital rooms intermittently for 20 years; yet she stands up for him. She is his advocate. She is committed to him.
Would we all be so committed?
What if that child was adopted?
I will be the first to admit that life is hard. Marriage is hard. Parenting is hard. Adoption is really hard. But I am committed to it. When we first came home from Africa and my kids were breaking everything in sight and throwing dirty toilet paper on the floor and refusing to eat or speak to us, I wondered, ever so briefly, "what in the world I was thinking?"
I prayed constantly to God, "This has got to be OK. You need to make this OK." I knew that it would be OK. Because we were committed to having the family we wanted. We are not perfect. We are not even close, but we are also not quitters. I knew even then, even in the deepest, darkest, moment of despair, that we would make it. That we would be blessed. And we have been.
It's not easy to keep up with all of their activities. It's not easy to keep up with their homeschooling. But we do it because we are committed. We work hard because of the end result. We work hard to teach them to work hard.
My daughter leaves for college in 2 days. She is going to one of the top ten schools in the nation. I know it peeves her that U Chicago doesn't roll off the tongue as easily as the name of some ivy league schools, but it is an absolute honor that she has been accepted and is going to be a 2013 U Chicago graduate. But once again, this wasn't handed to her. She didn't win the college lottery. She worked very hard for it. She was committed to it. She gave up a lot of things to have what she wanted. She has wanted to go to college since she was like 10. She has earned her position at this pretigious University through hard work.
So I guess the week has me wondering why it seems people give up so quickly. Why is it so easy to give up their dreams? Hopes? Families? Husbands? Wives? Education?
They wanted that marriage. They wanted that family. They wanted that 6 figure income. They want the end result but not the hard work it takes to get there.
I feel challenged to commit to the things I hold personally sacred to me.
I feel challenged to not fall into that trap of living a separate life from my spouse.
I feel challenged to love my children unconditionally for their differing skin tones, IQ's, personalities, backgrounds, and quirks.
I feel challenged to commit myself to the Lord all of my plans for our future.
I challenge you.
"Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed."