Day 40: Twenty Years Later

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If you have made it this far in the “40 Day Challenge: 20th Anniversary Edition,” you discovered that I made it only a little over half-way before the previous edition kicked in.

There’s a reason for that. Though I didn’t originally intend to drop the ball, at a certain point I realized that I had to choose between getting the series done by Easter … and or take one for the team and admit that I didn’t have the bandwidth to do both this and everything else.

While perseverance is an important part of marital success, I’ve also found that finishing something just to say that you’ve finished it is not always a good thing. Whether it’s a trashy novel or a frost-bitten half-pint of Ben and Jerry’s, there are times when it’s really, truly okay NOT to persevere.

In twenty years of marriage, I’ve discovered that our capacities — whether physical, mental, or financial — change, and often shrink. At sixty-four, my husband’s energy stores quickly become depleted when he attempts to work several twenty-hour days in succession. I’ve found my sense of humor grows equally in short supply when attempting to be everywhere and do everything at once.

For both of us, when we try to be and do too much, one of the first things that suffers is our relationship. He becomes loquacious, I become irritable. We retreat to opposite ends of the house, instead of meeting in the middle (after the kids and my mother turn in) for a cuddle. And don’t even get me started on what this does to the sex life.

Middle age is a time of transition, a time to dig deep in the storehouse of wisdom that we’ve acquired over time and with experience. So, in closing, I’d like to offer this one last “Prayer of Abandonment: Twenty-Year Edition.”

My darling,

Let us continue to abandon ourselves, come what may,

not knowing what the future holds, but confident in the One who does.

Let us be ready for inevitable change, and lingering struggles.

Let us say “I do” to each other, over and over and over again.

I offer you all that I am, and all that I have,

to claim or ignore or appropriate, as needed.

Let the love that we have continue to grow,

and to reflect in some small way the Perfection

to which we try to surrender ourselves, body and soul,

until at last we see the Glory.

 St. Charles de Foucauld, pray for us.

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31 Days of De-Stressed Living, Day 20: Practice Patience

shadowOne of the fun surprises of middle age, I’ve discovered, is the body’s newfound ability to wake up in the middle of the night, mind whirring like a video on fast-forward, alert and ready to … well, in most cases, ready to pee. But then alert and ready to start the day. At 4:00. Dang.

Months ago, I thought the nighttime insomnia was because of all the stress in my life, caused by the ordeal my family was going through (plus the on-the-job stress I was feeling at the time). Now, I realize it’s just part of the journey, so I’ve learned … to practice patience, and take advantage of it. So I’m typing instead of staring up at the ceiling, silently cursing the Sandman. Practicing patience. (Nice segue, Heidi.)

This morning I woke up with a line from the “shepherd’s psalm” (Psalm 23) spinning through my head: “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…”

Have you ever noticed that the psalmist didn’t RUN through that valley? Not even a quick-step. He walked. So often when we find ourselves in crisis, the temptation is to get through it as quickly as possible, which (truth be told) can greatly add to the stress.

Some experiences are more of a marathon than a sprint. When we find ourselves having to transom some dark valley, pushing ourselves to get through it quickly is likely to backfire, whether that particular valley is cancer, divorce, or … yes, even grief. But if we take the time to look around and to tend gently to the needs of those we love (including ourselves), it will take less out of us in the long run. No matter how much we need to practice patience with other people, the most important person to be patient with … is ourselves.

Have you had to “walk” a valley recently? How did you “practice patience” with yourself and those closest to you?