A version of this article was published at Ignitum Today.
It’s interesting how different reality looks when it’s on paper, in
neat paragraphs, all in the right order. There, I am a powerhouse. I am
strong; I am adventurous; I am embarking on a mission with eternal
consequences and not looking back.
But for all my talk of heroism and mission, I’m often tempted to throw in the towel, despair, and give up.
I wrote earlier
about how marriage is a mission, and how Christian married couples, if
they shine as beacons of virtue, can take the world by storm and save
the world from its sexual dysfunction.
But right now I don’t feel like taking the world by storm, or shining
as a beacon of virtue. I feel kind of sullen and selfish. I’m mad at my
husband (of just over a month) for asking me to leave the dishes for
him when he gets home from work. I’m mad at him for buying a stick shift
(the former bachelor thought it was manly) instead of an automatic. I’m
mad at him for owning four coffee makers when I don’t drink coffee and
our counter and cupboard space is cramped.
And, after spending much of our engagement preaching loudly about how
stupid it is to expect a flawless wedding day, I’m still trying to
compose the perfect toast for the occasion, and trying to make myself
have given it.
When I start writing, I start trying to take the world by storm
again. I start thinking I’m better than everyone else, as if putting
heroism and virtue into paragraphs was the same as living it. (I am
virtuous. You can tell because I’m happy. Admit it – I’m just oozing
with irresistible joy, and you’re about to convert because of it.)
It isn’t enough to say these things. We must live them. And yes,
marriage is a mission, and it requires hard work and discipline, just
like marathons and Amazon explorations. But I’m on duty even when I’m
not feeling strong and adventurous.
Some days I’m ready for a fistfight or wrestling match with whatever
power of evil would tempt me to love my dear husband less. Some days I’m
ready to climb mountains and soar. But some days I’m just tired.
Some days I have a bad cold, or a stressful afternoon, or not enough
sleep last night. I’m a woman, and some days my hormones do weird
things. Some days I don’t feel like cooking, and some days we don’t have
leftovers. Sometimes my sense of adventure just has to wait.
But I have to love anyway. My mission doesn’t change, even on days
when I’m just not feeling it. I don’t have to feel strong and powerful
in order to love deeply and steadily.
Maybe instead of wielding a sword and forcing myself to be happy, darnit,
about the coffee makers, the stick shift, the offer to wash dishes, I
should just shrug and look the other way. I’m annoyed about some petty
things. Okay. I know that, in the past, I’ve laughed about the coffee
makers, felt proud at how far my stick-shift driving has come, and been
grateful for his offers to help with housework. Those were emotions,
too, and they’ll come back.
I never promised to be passionate; I didn’t vow inexhaustible energy
or permanent cheer. When I’m not in the mood to deliver a powerful blow
to the enemy’s face, when all I can do is sigh and return to my work –
that’s what I must do. That’s my fidelity and commitment. That’s the
love and honor I did vow.
And, for the days I don’t feel like doing anything heroic – that’s my job. And I can do that.