Listening for the Sound of Hope

It’s going to come as a surprise, but I am generally regarded as stubborn and slightly obnoxious. I can live with that. Once I believe in something, everyone hears about it. The trick seems to be, getting me to the point where I honestly believe in something.

The friends I have, the ones I openly declare to be my friends, are all people who have survived something with me. We have been through an adventure that tested us. We have proven ourselves to each other. Those are folks I believe in. Those friendships have been earned.

The principles I believe in, came the same way.

Once I have been in a position where my beliefs were tested and survived, I have to declare those beliefs. That’s part of this whole marriage thing. I know what, I thought, I believed about marriage and family. I also know which parts of those ideas didn’t survive the hard times. The things I teach and preach now, are the things that I live. The things that actually saved my family.

So.

With all this stuff I believe, and the connection to my obnoxious and semi-stubborn nature, here’s the point for the day.

I never know when to give up.

It was a running gag, for most of my life, that I never knew the difference between a brick wall and a simple challenge. I would beat myself to death, trying to make something ridiculous happen. I was always trying to prove someone wrong, or just prove myself. I didn’t want anything to be impossible. I saw myself as indestructible. I wasted a lot of time and energy on things that absolutely didn’t matter.

Even during the worst days, when my marriage was virtually destroyed, I couldn’t give up on my wife. Even when everyone, including her, said it was hopeless… I couldn’t accept defeat. I didn’t want to. I was still making stupid decisions, but I didn’t want to lose my family. I was determined to make it work. I couldn’t give up.

Well. That’s almost true.

There was a point where I cracked. Not the road trip foolishness, from the last article. A point where I was starting to believe it was never going to happen. My marriage was over. I almost gave up.

Then the unbelievable happened…

In a moment, one my wife doesn’t even remember, she encouraged me. She gave me hope.

We weren’t even working with Joel and Kathy yet. I hadn’t learned to Let It Go yet. I hadn’t even learned about expectations yet. I was still fumbling around, trying to figure out what was happening. I was still working through my list of things to fix. Trying to save my family with the same logic that had broken us.

She stood in the doorway, where I was working on something. Don’t even remember what it was. The car, my bike… Don’t remember. (Something old, with some nuts and bolts that were not coming off easily.) But I do remember what she said.

“When you are trying to break one of those rusty nuts loose, it takes time. You have to work at it. You have to be careful not to break it off or damage it. You just keep working at it. Once it creaks, you know it’s going to happen. You know it’s coming loose. Well, you got a creak out of me. I know you are trying. Don’t give up on me, yet.”

After that, I was resolute.

She changed her mind a few more times. She wanted to make it work, but she was so angry with me and hurt. I understand. It was my fault. I had failed her miserably. She loved her family. She loved me, even though she didn’t want to. She wanted a better life and couldn’t imagine it with me. She felt trapped in a situation she didn’t know how to escape from. She didn’t want the abuse or neglect, but she did want her family. Some days she was sure of what she wanted, some days she wasn’t. The whole ordeal was brutal for both of us.

After she said that, I understood the situation better. There was hope. There was a chance that we would make it.

If stubborn is a good word for refusing to give up, even when the odds are completely against you, that’s me. That was one time my thick skull worked to my advantage.

Some of you guys are right there. You have been a bad husband. Your wife is hurt. She doesn’t want to work it out. She wants you to go away. Se might be yelling. She might have left. She might have thrown you out. She might even be in an affair. It doesn’t matter. You can only control you. You have to make you grow up and do right. Her response is up to her. She will make her own choices. But, your decisions and actions will influence hers.

You have to learn to love her because you love her, not because of anything she does.
You have to stop looking for responses. Just do good.
Ignore the anger. Listen for the answers that may not show up any other way.
Stop reacting and responding when she is angry.
Start developing good habits that bless her and prove that you love her.
Create positive expectations. Do good stuff consistently.
Don’t smother her. Just become a good husband, she will notice.

It won’t happen overnight. Some times it takes weeks, sometimes years, sometimes never. The goal is to become a Christlike. If you focus on that, either way, you win. You don’t really have a choice anyway. If you claim to be a Christian, you have to learn selfless love either way. This is your best opportunity.

Unless she has moved on completely and remarried, I wouldn’t give up. Keep moving forward.

Listen for the creak.

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