We love doing life together. There’s something absolutely wonderful about sharing life with a person you know will always be there. We make a point to opt in 100%, committing ourselves to prayer for one another and seeking the grace to respond in love. Opting in 100% means opting in even when life is hard. Lately, life has been very hard indeed. Between Lindsey’s recent job loss and Sarah’s encountering bumps on the journey to recovery, we have had a lot on our plate.
When life gets hard, we like to remember that being human requires dealing with hard things. Illness, financial hardship, employment uncertainty, accidents, and debt can lurk behind many doors. One never knows when one will face these adversaries. As a couple, we’ve been trying to keep up a strong appearance through some exceptionally difficult times. Our friends who know us best have seen various cracks in the facade. We’ve both seen the other navigating so much stress that it’s hard to know what to say or do. But, we try to focus on responding with grace and compassion as a default. It works well for us; yet, we’d be grateful for a few less opportunities to practice these particular skills under stress.
In some ways, it doesn’t matter which specific adversary we’re facing. The skills learned for being present for each other in one crisis transfer easily when we find ourself facing another challenging situation. We’ve had to learn to listen, to ask questions, and to acknowledge our limitations. So many painfully difficult challenges cannot be wiped out with a silver bullet. Sometimes big problems have no real solutions except to pray for God to act with every gift of the Spirit. Growing together in love means clinging to the instructions in 1 Corinthians 13: “Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves.”
When life is hard, we remember that “love” is a verb. To love means to pray, to sit with, to hug, to be present for, and to stretch oneself towards Christ. The bigger the problem, the more we find ourselves reaching out to God asking for a miracle. Sometimes, we have a visible miracle. Other times, we have the intangible miracle of God reminding us that we are not alone. We are so grateful when God sends us friends to encourage us. Over the past several months, we have been overwhelmed by the ways our friends have blessed us.
We certainly don’t always respond well. We’d be the first to tell you that we both get really cranky when we think we’re getting the shaft from the universe. No one likes to file 3 police reports in a month. No one likes to problem-solve complex medical concerns with extremely limited resources. No one likes to have a steady schedule of illnesses, weather-related work closures when you don’t get paid for the snow day, and traffic back-ups that prevent you from getting to where you need to be. It’s hard for us not to blame ourselves for our individual struggles. Yet, our “normal” as a couple frequently involves navigating some seriously hard things, and we have had to discern how God would have us grow towards Christ in all our circumstances.
The hard times are better because we’ve made a commitment to be there for each other. It’s not that “Lindsey is having a hard time” or “Sarah is having a hard time.” It’s that “We’re having a hard time, and we’re doing what we can to steward hope while we wait.” We’ve noticed that it’s easier to have hope when Lindsey has a full calendar of job interviews or when everything seems to be clicking in Sarah’s process. But, it’s the hard times that have shown us more about how Christ loves his Church.
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