Recently a friend gave a social media challenge to show seven different images of our relationship over a week. As I’m posting the last image, I realized I have a lot to say, so I’m moving my final post to here.
Day 7 marriage moment: My youngest drew us and it got me to thinking about how much of our self understanding comes from what other people call out or notice in us. Clearly this child noticed our smiles, my preference for colour which I hadn’t noticed in myself until black/grey loving Vancouverites called it out. My friend’s calling out my marriage has given me pause to notice the things I REALLY like.
When we first married, a high school friend and I went out. I was one of the first in our peer group to marry, so she asked if I liked being married. I paused, like a long, uh oh what will she say pause, and then I found these words to capture the layers of early marriage “I like being married to Craig O’Brien. Being married is hard, and I wouldn’t like being married to anyone else.”
Dallas Willard noted that humans were created not to assuage God’s loneliness but to share and enjoy in God’s relational delight and intimacy experienced in the trinity. Fundamentally, I believe all humans are created for being known intimately, and all humans have a gap of knowing and being fully known that won’t be satisfied until later. Marriage, while not the only way, remains one of the more common ways of having our relational intimacy needs addressed. And when marriage is good, my children, extended family, neighbours, friends, community can experience the ripples of satisfying intimacy and when marriage is bad, others get caught in the tidal waves or ripples of the troubles.
Until Craig and I married, I really did not know how selfish I could be. The relationship called out places in my character that needed to mature, to change, to be rooted out, to grow, but the pruning process wasn’t pleasant for either of us. As iron sharpen iron means rough spots are getting shaved off or at least reformed. Craig has said that he never knew the intensity of anger that he felt in our first year of marriage. Funny thing is – I was clueless to his anger, and usually I’ve got a strong, clear read on his state of being. I was just too self-absorbed. Because of the rooting out of selfishness, I was mildly prepared for the next onslaught against self-centredness: PARENTING. But what if Craig hadn’t stayed with me or emotionally present through the initial selfishness confrontation? My poor kids would have had even more hurt while the non-stop demands of littles spotlighted my selfishness.
Craig calls out many things in me, and one of them that I am deeply grateful for is that he lets me vent emotional responses without judgement. Once when I asked him why (I was feeling particularly ashamed for my feelings), he commented, “Well, you always end up in a place of life and godliness, and you seem to get there quicker when you can express the whole range of your emotions.” Glad for his wise listening, his noticing my pattern, and most of all for him calling out what leads to fullness and movement towards whole, pure thinking, feeling, and living.
There’s more for my kids to notice because Craig O’Brien has called out a lot of things in my life – usually things of hope, joy, possibility and occasionally foul. I’m a blessed woman. I like the photo that’s the featured image of this post; we were headed to a wedding, and we cleaned up nicely. But my real life this moment is in yoga pants, hair falling out of being up with unfinished projects scattered about, and I’m learning to walk that real with more grace because of the man I do life with.
called out. noticed. being known. we all need intimacy. we were created to enter the relational delight of our Heavenly Father.