Monday, February 11, 2013

Seven Year Itch

Nate and I are reaching the end of our seventh year of marriage.  I could not have imagined how this history would unfolded.  You see, I don't think we would call ourselves big dreamers, brave maybe, but not fearless.  So sometimes I look back and think, wow, this is really our life?  In light of the fact that this is the year in which many marriages end I felt it was an appropriate place to pause and reflect. 

I did notice that coming up on the seventh year Nate and I were becoming quite antsy.  Not to be away from each other but an itch for permanence, the big picture, and we just couldn't scratch it.  Maybe seven is the magic number or it was how keenly aware we were that we now have children who will be settling into what they will remember as their childhood: their neighborhood, their elementary schools, their first best friends or maybe we are all just turning 30 and having a bit of a quarter life crisis.  After nearly ten year of: dating, engagement, marriage, moves, school, new carriers, new church, countless deployments, foster children, babies, adoption...with Nate we wanted to at least settle somewhere.  I think wanted is actually the wrong word here; we longed to be settled; something deep within us cried out to lay down roots and we were not sure where to plant our family.  We found ourselves upset for reasons we can't pin down and having long late night living room conversation/foot rubs that end in, I just wish we knew where we are going to to be in five years. 

I know everyone must struggle with this, where to live, where to send their children to school.  But it felt so deep and dark to up, like a black hole in our future.  Our interests, friends, work... have become so spread out and we are plopped down somewhere in the middle of it all but not really close to anything concrete, other then my general love of Manito, Trader Joes and our farmer's market which doesn't rank very high on reasons to live somewhere. We moved to the south hill to be close to the hospital and therapists for Claire and a church we haven't attended in four years so here doesn't really make sense for those reasons anymore.  We were both raised very settled in one house, one school, with childhood friends that carried over into endearing adulthood relationships, forged through kindergarten sleepovers and teenage broken hears.  We both don't love the thought of moving our children around in the middle of that part of their lives. I want the dream house with big windows and lots of room for all our present and future children to grow up and all those wonderful friends.  Nate wants room to escape, wonder, feel free, away from town.  I want security and stability for the times he is gone with the Air Force and to be close to the special needs community that I have invested these past years into.   Nate wants to get out of Spokane and torn, I am finding it harder to think of leaving all the relationships and connections here (not to mention the services for Claire). 

Slam into reality, we don't have the income for the dream house or the land. We want to be near our friends and family but our family will not be near a good situation for Claire who really shouldn't just live anywhere. I'm kind of grateful for reality, it is settling in its own devious way.  Having Claire takes away a lot of choice and brings in a heavy dose of reality, working over our plans.  My life has been turned upside down these past five years with her and perhaps that is why I am holding onto where we live so tightly.  It's our choice! But the old saying rings out, you really can't have it all after all. 

Maybe the unsettling thing about seven years is that you have enough perspective to know what you want, enough reality to feel the sting of what will never be, enough time to be discontented with what you were once grateful for, and you still have no clue how it's all going to pan out.  You get a little desperate thinking, is this right? This is not all going how I thought is would go.  Actually, if you transported me into this life today from seven year ago I am fairly sure I would indeed have a complete mental brake down.  Our life is so different from the quiet one Nate and I planned on, holding hands under the stars in Monito, those high as a kite, totally clueless engagement days.  I'm thankful it all came in waves.  I see the temptation to bail.  Jump ship from this life and climb aboard some other ship with a less scurvy crew and a shinny deck.  We wanted to bail on Spokane but I think we might have been blaming the south hill for life; unplanned, unpredictable life, that just doesn't turn out the way you thought it would.

A movie is no good if you know the ending, that's why I hate those previews that give away all the good stuff.  I want a cliff hanger and I'm finding that okay for life too.  This adventure is not going to look like what we imagined or what our own childhoods were like.  Sadly, it doesn't even resemble some of the hope and dreams we had along the way.  Making it through seven had a lot to do with getting over our plans.  Just because we always said we would... and it didn't work out that way doesn't mean this last seven years was a failure and even though we don't know where we will be living when our second daughter enters Kindergarten doesn't mean that's a loss too.  I think believing the lie that life is plans we lay before ourselves to achieve is a little of the poison that infects marriage, shatters hope and causes division.

Which brings me back to big dreamers.  Once we thought we were not big dreamers but now I am finding that we always were, undercover dreamers.  We just needed a shove in the right direction, thank you God. So we redefine ourselves, our lives, based on God's guiding.  I guess we really are free spirits after all, it's laughable if you know us very well, we love a good plan.  But dreams and plans I'm finding are fundamentally different.  A plan we should be able to tackle all on our own, like a road map.  Everyone is doing this, and getting there so we should too.  A dream is like going up in a hot air balloon, it's big and scary and you are ever mindful that wind and air are holding you up like the hands of God guiding you in a direction.  It's your life, your balloon, your the driver but not really.

We have a dear friends who was recently struggling in her marriage and as I have a very bad habit of doing (of which I am actively working to brake) I found myself worrying for her.  Worrying that her marriage would be a struggle, that she would be unhappy, trying to think of what I could say to help, asking for Nate's advice.  She was bitter towards her husband.  Nate asked me, "Have you ever been bitter towards me?"  It all came back in a flood of memories.  I had been bitter, angry, hurt for almost a year of our marriage over a very big decision Nate and I were divided on.  I know it sounds crazy but remembering that painful time gave me hope for my friend.  If God could guide us through that dark place to where we are now, my friend and her marriage are going to be okay.  Sometimes we are going to be angry, sometimes we will let the winds our our temper carry us off course.  We will say things that hurt each other and there is grace to repair and redirect in Christ.

Our life thus far has been kind of like running a half marathon.  At first it all sounded like a really fun adventure, I knew it would be hard but the allure of a bragging wrights t shirt and burning 1,100 calories in one day distracts me from fear.  We got going and it was pretty fun after all and then it starts to get hard, really herd, but when we look back and see where we have been we think, we did that, thank God we really can do this.  It propelled us forward, through pounding miles and pain in areas we didn't know could cry out for attention.  The further we get, the further I want to go.  I've pretty much thrown my plan out the window at this point, which is the way God wanted it all along.  Here we go Nate, I love you more than words can say and so much deeper and more fully than seven years ago.  You are my best friend and partner.  I love sharing this life with you, wherever we are and wherever we end up.

Happy Valentines Week