Where Logic Meets Love

Clinging to My Blessings

Sunday, November 27, 2011

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Clinging to My Blessings | Faith Permeating Life

I apologize for my silence on Thursday.

I had planned a traditional Thanksgiving post about what I was thankful for, but it was hard to find gratitude when our Thanksgiving morning started with one of my husband's family members waking up on our couch, hurling insults and anger at my husband, then getting in their car and driving back to Ohio.

And then we put on happy faces and went to spend Thanksgiving weekend with my family.

It was a rough day. A rough weekend. Not helped by the fact that 1) Mike was working most of the weekend, so we barely had time to talk through what had happened, and 2) the rest of his family offered little support, and many hurtful words, about the situation.

It shook me to the core to see him hurting so badly and to have absolutely no way of making things better.

If he were being harassed by some random bully on the street, I could call his bully names and talk about all the terrible things I wanted to do to him until I could make Mike laugh again. But when it's his family, I have to keep my mouth shut. It's only because he loves them so immensely that they can wound him so deeply. It's like watching someone in an abusive relationship, except there's no walking away, no breaking up. They're in this for life.

Which means I am, too.

"I do" doesn't just mean I marry you as you are, with all your quirks and fears and flaws, with all of the baggage of your past. It means I will be here for your future pain; I will stand by helplessly while you hurt. It means that I hurt in a reflection of your pain that is a reflection of your family's pain.

My note from the Universe on Thursday said, "There are absolutely no worldly circumstances, Jessica, under which you can't or shouldn't be making the very best of things."

So I've been trying to do that.

Mainly I've been praying constantly, an alternating stream of petitions and thanksgiving.

My little sister was a huge blessing this weekend. When we forgot to bring bedding for the rats, she gave me some of her old T-shirts to use. She and I whispered and giggled when my great-uncle, who works or used to work at a wine shop, talked about wine all through Thanksgiving dinner and on and on after we were finished eating, until she and I finally volunteered to clear plates, pack up the leftovers, and wash dishes in the kitchen, where we could laugh and laugh together. I forgot my swimsuit and she let me borrow one of hers to go in my parents' hot tub. All weekend she was cracking jokes and making me laugh.

My brother was also great this weekend. I was never very close to him growing up; he basically entertained himself by tormenting me, until our little sister was born and he could taunt her instead, then he spent his teenage years being silent and sullen. But he's grown into a respectful, intelligent, and fun adult. He went with Mike to play Wallyball with friends on Wednesday and ended up being a sounding board for Mike in dealing with his family stressors. My brother also made us laugh by borrowing my mom's laptop (logged into Facebook) and posting that he was her favorite child, which she didn't find out until about four hours later, at which point seven people had "liked" it. I had tears in my eyes from laughing so hard when we finally let her in on the joke.

I'm clinging to my blessings. And it's helping.

This morning I went to church and laid it all out for God. And He helped me see what to do, what conversations Mike and I need to have, and how I can help him.

I also called my best friend, who helped me talk through finding a balance between taking care of myself and giving of myself in love, as I'm called to do as a Christian.

The hardest part is being in a situation where there is so much pain and yet no clear source, nowhere you can point and say, "There, that's the thing we need to eliminate." Or even "There's the thing we need to do to make it better." Everyone is hurting and so is making everyone else hurt more as a result. I am desperately trying to keep Mike and me on the same page, to prevent the pervasive pain from turning us on each other.

This weekend, I'm grateful that God is good. That when I am willing to listen, He is willing to give me a new perspective.

I'm grateful for my family and for the time I had with them this weekend.

I'm grateful for my friends, including all of you, who are there for me when I'm hurting.

I'm grateful for my husband, God's greatest gift to me, and I am praying that he will find a way to have peace in this storm.

Your prayers are welcomed.


  1. Wow that sounds extremely difficult - but sounds like you handled it pretty well. Glad your thanksgiving wasn't totally ruined by the whole thing.

  2. I can totally understand how you feel. Especially the frustration of just being in pain but not knowing exactly what to do to help or eliminate the pain. But you are so right. In the midst of all of the absurdity that is life, God is so good. Prayers coming your way. :)

  3. Ugh- family drama is the worst. I'm so sorry that it was rough for you! But it's amazing how God works and how he shows us the direction we need to go. I'll keep you and your hubby in my thoughts and prayers today!

  4. I'm sorry your Thanksgiving weekend went so poorly. You're in my prayers.

  5. Thank you all for your kind words and prayers! We need them right now.

  6. Oh, Jessica...that really sucks. And it makes my heart hurt for Mike too. In a small way, I can relate. It's so hard to watch someone you love hurt and, like you said, it's such an awkward and delicate position for the spouse to be in. Thinking of you guys and praying it works out in the end.

  7. @Caiti
    Exactly! I feel like people are always talking about problems around self vs. in-laws (like the mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship), but rarely do you hear what to do when it's your spouse and their whole family and you're not even directly involved. Thanks for understanding and for your prayers.

  8. It's like watching someone in an abusive relationship, except there's no walking away, no breaking up.

    Why not? Because he shares some DNA it means he's forced to put up with abuse? He doesn't have as much right as a victim of domestic violence to remove himself from an abusive, though not romantic, relationship?

    Obviously I have no idea what the situation is or how bad the abuse is, but from my own experience, being related doesn't give a person any more allowance to abuse you than a spouse or friend. Abuse is wrong, and it should not be tolerated. How you put a stop to the abuse is up to you, whether it means removing yourself from the situation, sitting down and talking about it, or whatever. But, every person has an utterly inalienable right to not permit other people to abuse them.

    I'm sorry if I sound overly forceful about this; it hits pretty close to home for me. I'm still struggling with the problem that people I love hurt me, but I have come to accept that it is my right to take myself out of situations where people hurt me, to demand respect and courtesy, even from older siblings and parents.

  9. @Macha
    I completely understand, and maybe that was a bad analogy, but that's exactly what it feels like. Understand that the person in question is not in their right mind, and Mike is basically the only one left who cares about getting them help. Everyone else merely is wildly unsupportive about the whole situation. Maybe a better analogy would be having a violent/unstable child--you're not going to turn them out on the street just so you can avoid being hurt; you're going to try to get them help, but you might have to weather some blows and some wounding words in the meantime.

  10. Yikes! It's really rough when something upsetting happens just before you have to go somewhere and try to act normal. I'm glad you found some ways to be thankful.

    On Thanksgiving morning, about 20 minutes after we arrived at the hosting cousin's house, a neighbor came to the door to tell us he had hit a car parked in the street--mine. I could have let it ruin my day. But I made a conscious effort to be thankful that it wasn't worse (the door could still be opened; the window didn't break) and that he was honest about it (the only other time my car was hit, it was a hit-and-run by a truck that had been rented with fake ID!!) and that my insurance will cover it. The worst it'll be is hassle for me.

  11. @'Becca
    Oh, yuck, good for you for having a positive attitude about it. I seriously dread any kind of car accident, not even because of the scary accident I was in, but because it's such a huge hassle dealing with insurance!! When I was in college this man backed into my car in his giant van, and was totally nice and apologetic about it, and then called his insurance company and told them I'd said it was my fault! Rather than fighting it my parents just paid the few hundred dollars to get my car fixed. But he's lucky I'm a nice person, because I still have a copy of his insurance with his full name and address... I could have called up his boss, or posted the story with his full name on the Internet, or something, but I didn't. Anyway, yes, what a hassle, and I'm glad it was as easy for you it could be in this case!

  12. Shame on you! What if my nephew or my sister saw this post...We do care and we all have tried..I thought you were different than this..I was wrong! You haven't been there trying to help on a day to day basis. My sister and my brother-in-law have tried..have rearranged their life for this person..you gave up a Thanksgiving weekend...WOW!...Does Michael know about this post? This does not help!!!
    ~Laura Russell-Martin


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