It's my anniversary today. I wrote this about a moment the Lord gifted me with last night that speaks so much about my marriage and about God's goodness.
The heat crept into our valley weeks ago, and each night the kids migrate to the living room in order to sleep close to the swamp cooler. Five restless bodies try to settle on sleeping pads and couches. There are three books splayed open while last minute stories usher in the calm that has so far eluded us. An ipod takes a final zip through intagram before resting on the charger. Sweet loving 4 year old arms finally relax into slumber making my job much easier during this bedtime routine. My husband plays gently on his guitar. His voice becomes a lullaby to me and tears somehow slip past my attempts to blink them back because my heart can’t hold it all in. The peace in that room fills me and I find the words to the song stirring something deep.
“Rock me, Mama like a wagon wheel. Rock me, Mama, any way you feel, Hey-eh Mama rock me.”
It’s not an inspirational song.
It’s not even a God song.
But, to me it has become something more.
It’s part of seeing a new thing.
My husband is a simple man with a simple faith.
I used to hate that… wanted to change that. I needed hyper spiritualism to hide from the reality of life. I clung to a thick religious code because I was trying to wring from God sacred relief for the soul pain that plagued me day in and day out. I wanted my husband to join in the game. He wouldn’t, so I despised him.
And I was oh so wrong. I thought I was inviting this man to a cathedral of spiritual experience that would offer all the answers to my problems, his problems. I thought he was robbing me of my healing when he rebuffed my invitation and it fueled my frantic efforts to draw him in even more. What I didn’t see was that I was actually luring him to a white washed tomb and slinging guilt all over him when he refused to come. Our hearts were far apart. Thick walls stood between us and I despaired.
My pastor and my friends saw right through me. They would not let me stay stuck in this performance based dance of death. I was gently exposed. My religious pursuits were no more than idol worship; things I performed to get God to perform. God wasn’t interested. He wanted my heart, not my sacrifice. My religious spirit not only prevented me from connecting meaningfully, it was hurtful and defiling to others. Most of all, my husband.
So, I let go. I continue to let go.
It was right at this point that I found an unexpected practical application. I started listening to my husband’s music. Country music. Real life music about somewhat real people who are at least a little more open about their problems than I had dared to be.
And right in the middle of the choruses and verses, I discovered my husband’s heart. When I had no need to despise him, I was able to see strength and giftedness. A gate between our souls began to open. It had been hidden by my need for it to look a certain way but I am finding some common ground now and it’s in the words and tunes of my husband’s favorite singers. Did I expect meaningful connection to occur through country music? No. But I’ll take it, and you’ll find me greedily drinking it all in.
The hum of the cooler fills the air. Pages turn on books that will soon tip and fall from sleepy hands. The guitar’s strumming soothes me and words drift in and out as my husband continues to sing. My heart is raw, ravaged by sorrow and memories that visited this morning. It leans in to the lullaby. Comfort seeps in. The melody embraces me in a way that arms can’t. In simplicity, my husband deeply ministers to me. Tears still flow as I quietly join in, “Rock me, Mama like the wind and the rain. Rock me Mama like a south bound train. Hey-eh, Mama rock me.”