Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Water Under the Bridge

Did I already mention that I prefer to deal with conflict or anything else head on?

Not everyone is like that.

My husband prefers to do nothing. He waits until enough water has gone under the bridge for things to be ok again.

So, today... there hasn't been enough water under the bridge. It is at that awkward stage where some water has gone under, but not quite enough.

When is it really enough? Is it enough when the problem is slightly covered with water? Is it enough when the water flows over it, but if you look directly at it, you still see it lurking under the water? Or is it enough when so much water goes by that you forget what was buried down there?

Oh, for the simplicity of repentance and forgiveness! Aren't you glad that God forgives? We don't have to wait. We don't have to wonder. It is gone. Forgiveness takes the issues out of the stream, gone for good. Clear water again flows, and we don't have to be afraid of the view from the bridge.

With repentance, we have no shadows lurking in standing water, no surprises to appear in times of drought. No memories to surface again when we run dry of grace.

But he has not yet discovered this. What he misses knowing is that forgiveness is already waiting for him. It has been for a long time. For this, for many other things that he simply buried under the bridge. It is there waiting.

We simply need to be open to receive forgiveness. We can not have cleared away what we cover over and hide.

So, here I am today, watching water pass by and wishing for simple talk, for the freedom of repentance and forgiveness.


Becky Aguirre said...

Very thoughtful post...I had never really thought it that way before. I wonder if some of what you are describing is cultural...either to the home culture or family of origin culture? I know that the culture my husband comes from is non-confrontational to begin with, they prefer to avoid rather than deal with things, leaving a trail of broken relationships behind... Also, in his family, when there is a problem they just kind of avoid each other for a while and then pretend like nothing happened and life "goes on". This has created tension in our relationship because I didn't understand that about him and I am like you, I prefer to face things and deal with it right away...but that seems to be very threatening to my husband. It's like somehow his life experience has built walls that are hard for him to let down, but I praise God that as our marriage becomes a 'safe place' for him (PTL for DNA of Relationships series by the Smalleys!), God is working to heal him and our relationship in ways I wouldn't have imagined even just a year ago!

Ellie said...

I think some of it is culture. Some may also be personality. The comment I hear so much from my husband is "it will never change" or "you will never change." I think it is cultural some. When his family fights, they simply don't talk about it and ignore each other.

There is no forgiveness in the culture that I can see. There is one member of the extended family who has been excluded from family life for 15 years now. So long, in fact, that many people forget what the offense was that excluded her. Sure, she comes to all family major events and everyone smiles and kisses each other, but they hate her and talk so bad about her when she is not around, and they never have her around unless they have to in order to "save face" at a major event like a wedding.

I keep thinking, "ok, fifteen years is a long time, can we not say, 'hey, girl, that comment fifteen years ago was nasty and mean, and you hurt our feelings'" Then, perhaps, she would have the ability to say, "you're right. It was stupid and mean. I was just jealous of this, had a bad day, whatever, and I am really sorry." Then we could stop hating each other. But no... now the kids of the families are being raised, and they have been well taught that we hate them and they hate us, but I doubt they know why.

It leaves me shaking my head.

So, yes, some is cultural. I just get tired of people all telling me everything in my marriage is cultural... hey, there is such a thing as sin, too!

Cultural means differences, and differences need to be worked out. Then there are other things which are just plain, ordinary sin. I have them. He has them. They do better with repentance and forgiveness than trying to "understand and adapt"!

But, good to hear things are better for you. Keep praying for me. There are marriage issues right now, but there are other issues that I think have little to do with the marriage, but are simply issues in his life that he needs to address. Unfortunately, they also play into the marriage.

And, he is still not talking to me. He should at least say hi... it is a special day for me, but no... still the silent treatment again.

Becky Aguirre said...

You are very right, "cultural" doesn't excuse sin and I didn't mean to imply that...but in my experience, sometimes it helps to find out where a person is so that we can understand where they are coming from and where to go from there.  I think that my husband (and me, too!) struggles with distinguishing between what is cultural (personally or otherwise) and what is Biblical. It's hard to see him struggle, but these are things he needs to figure out between him and God. I really can't be his conscience...and unfortunately, that's my tendency... :o

One of the hardest things for me in my marriage has been how to let go of what I consider my rights and to put Miguel's needs first...I realize that I don't really love him unconditionally, a lot of my "love" depends on how he is treating me and whether or not he's meeting my needs. But holding on to my rights will only lead to a broken relationship, or at the very least, not the marriage that is deep and fulfilling. God does call husbands to love and cherish, honor their wives, but that isn't always how it works...I think the hard thing for me was to know what to do with the pain when I wasn't being treated 'right'...that's where God has been working to show me to depend on Him to meet those needs, even when they really are meant to be fulfilled in marriage.

I am also learning that above all other things, my husband needs to know that I respect him...it's a HUGE issue with him! If he feels he is not getting that respect, then it is very, very hard for him to act towards me in a loving way. Like Greg Smalley said once in a seminar I went to, if two people get their fingers slammed in the door at the same time, as much as they love each other, each one's own pain will be foremost in their minds! It just doesn't come naturally to look our for others when we are in so much pain ourselves. And my husband grew up with a lot of pain.

I do not presume to know how it is with you, these are just observations from my own life that may or may not apply to yours. :)

I will continue to lift you up in prayer...

Ellie said...


I wasn't offended at your post at all. I figured you were not implying that some things are not sin. It is just that there are times with my marriage because there are cultural difference that I find it hard to talk to Americans. I find they just assume any problems in a cross-cultural marriage are all cultural differences. That is frustrating to me at times. I know there are cultural things, but not all can be just waved aside as "oh, well, that is what you get for marrying into that culture."

Your comment encouraged me. I had just tried to talk to a friend - one I call when I need someone to pray with me, and my friend was too busy, too tired to pray. (justifiably so... had had a way too long day doing stressful work, but...) So I was in tears...

What to do with the pain? That is a question I struggle with so often. "God, I know how I am supposed to act (well, sort of) and I want to act that way (well, sometimes), but what do I do with the pain? It hurts to be treated like this." This is now almost the end of the second week of enduring the silent treatment, and it is wearing.

I think we do hear at times that God should be all we need, that we can depend on Him, that He can satisfy. While I will not object to the truth in the fact that God can definitely meet our needs and fill our hearts, there is real pain when there are relationships that God has designed us for and designed to meet needs, and they are not. There is a sense there that God can not completely be enough. Relationships that are broken cause hurt.

You have a lot to say that is also good for me to remember again. My husband grew up with a lot of hurt, too - more than he has ever talked about to people.

But, today, I hurt. I hurt because I was just in a situation where my husband was in a group, talking and laughing with people, and I see that and realize that he is not angry with the world. He has singled me out to reject. It hurts.

Thanks for praying. I needed that today. Pray that I continue to respond with grace. Grace upon grace, piled up and heaped up.

And that I learn to take my pain in my hands to the quiet place before God and lay it out in front of Him. That is all I have found to do with it so far. And God does not need any explaining to know how I feel.

Becky Aguirre said...

Yes, I know what you are talking about...most people have little understanding of what it means to be in a cross-cultural marriage and even I have assumed that my husband is more "americanized" than he really is sometimes.  :(  As he feels more free to open up, he's shared some things that have surprised me, not knowing that's how he really felt deep down inside.For years, I'd heard that somewhat 'pat' answer that Christ should meet all needs...and didn't like it because you're right, as much as we say that, we're still left with wondering what to do with the pain?  And we do have very real needs that are designed to be met in relationships. I remember a day, years ago, feeling so lonely, rejected, lost in my marriage and crying out to God...the ONE person in my life who has promised to love, cherish, honor me-and it feels like he's turned his back!  It was one of the few times in my life when I sensed so strongly Christ speaking to me...it was like a physical presence and He reminded me that HE is the One who will truly never leave me or turn his back; I will never receive rejection from Him.  It was a turning point in my life, I believe.  I began praying at specific times when I felt like I desperately needed some sort of emotional connection with my H. and I found that God was faithful to bring about something within the next few days.  I think that for me, personally, I tend to depend too much on other people, husband, family, friends and in a way, God had to remove those from my life so that I could learn what it meant to depend solely on Him...now He has given some of those back to me...there is a place for them in my life, but I needed to know that God was dependable and safe, that He was the first one that I needed to turn to. 

I don't know that I have any real answers about the pain either, but that quiet place of setting it before God sounds like a good way to describe it. The pain, it's a very real thing and I found tears in my eyes as I read your comment because it strikes a chord in my heart.

I'm glad that I could be an encouragement to you today...I wasn't sure whether what I was writing was relevant or not...I will pray for grace and for God to be working. Thanks for writing back!

Ellie said...

"God is dependable and safe"

Made me stop and smile...

you don't know all the struggle I have gone through over the last three and a half years to get to a place where I can begin to learn that!

Reassuring. I know that now. Despite all the awfulness of the last several years, you're right, that is a jewel I carry out of those difficult times.

I am a type of person that would like to feel safe by controlling my environment. What I've learned about God is that He is not controllable, but He IS safe!

Becky Aguirre said...

More that we have in common then, liking to have control and having had some "awful" years lately...I don't know as mine were so 'awful', but they definitely were hard for me. I hope I don't sound like I have it all 'together' because these are things I am in the process of learning...I humbly ask that God continue to teach me so that I can, in turn, reach out to others who are huring. Blessings...

Ellie said...

Naw... I have lost the belief that anyone has it "all together"! :-)

Becky Aguirre said...

:) LOL!