The Truth of Who I Am

"Only the truth of who you are, if realized, will set you free." -Eckhart Tolle

Between the Fight and The Forgiveness

on September 2, 2013

So Labor Day weekend has come and gone and it feels like a wasted weekend because so much of what we had planned did not happen. A trip to D.C. for a friend’s wedding was reversed due to the ridiculous traffic on I-85N. We made it from Atlanta to the Mall of GA in close to 2 hours (which should only have taken 30 minutes) and decided to turn around. We didn’t make it to a cookout yesterday with some awesome friends  due to not being able to get our act together. Read: passionately discussing marital issues so that going somewhere together just didn’t happen. And then a lukewarm Monday in which David, our 7 year-old, planned and ran a Labor Day Camp for him and his sister very effectively while the parents remained between the fight and the forgiveness. The time between the fight and the forgiveness always feels like wasted time.

When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams
as the north wind lays waste the garden. 

A little over 8 years ago I made a promise to join my life with another person’s and to accept, love, and respect him throughout the journey. Yes, I knew, because I had heard often enough, that marriage is hard but I also believed I could do it. We could do it. I still believe it can be done and I still believe we can do it. But wow! Hearing something and knowing it are two entirely different things! I had no idea just how hard things could get and how easily they can slip from great to dismal in a matter of seconds. I wonder if the allure of marriage is more about the challenge or the actual belief that we’d be spending our days in each others arms or longing to see each other after a long day’s work and then moving on to the blissful days in which we anticipate and then share in the parenthood of beautiful, perfect little children. I wonder, sometimes, if I had known the truth about the hard parts of marriage, would I have chosen to dive in? No, I’m not bitter. This is simply a moment in time for me and captures the moments between the fight and the forgiveness.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.

I shouldn’t have to, but I will clarify, that all is good and as it should be in my marriage. We are two people who committed to being married and continue to be committed and have every intention of staying together ’til death do us part. I love Brian and Brian loves me. We’re married. And this is simply a part of it. If I’m going to tell truths about who I am, I have to be able to tell truths about all parts of my life and marriage is one of them. I feel the need to share my truths about the hard parts of marriage because I believe I might figure out something through my writing. Or maybe you will help me figure out something. Or maybe I’ll just feel better when you tell me that I’m not alone. If you’re married, it’s quite likely you already know this and completely get what I’m talking about. If you’re not married, it’s most likely you don’t believe you’ll ever get yourself into such a situation because you’re only going to commit to being with someone who, like you, is above all this. And if you don’t plan to be married, well, hey….love will find you in other places.

Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.

So here’s my truth. The hard parts of marriage took me completely by surprise. I did not expect some of my reactions to various situations. I’ve always thought of myself as a level-headed, carefree, easy-going, forgiving, sensible and loving human being. Oh – also witty and funny. So it took me completely by surprise when I found myself behaving in ways that were the complete opposite. I know, I know. Some of you who know me well are utterly shocked by this truth about me. But really, I actually possess the opposite of all the beautiful qualities I know are mine. Strange. It’s as if my mate…or my marriage…is here to teach me,  and humble me in the process, that I am human. And being human means that I possess all the qualities that any human being can possess. I know I possess all the qualities because I always have a choice. I’m still learning this one, but I ALWAYS have a choice to be forgiving or to punish, to be patient or to be frustrated, to be kind, or to be hurtful, to be angry or to be understanding, to be loving or to be fearful. I can choose either one. I have chosen all of the above.

All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s heart.

What I have come to learn in the 8+ years of marriage is that there is an ebb and flow. There are ups and downs. Highs and lows and in-betweens. I fought this hard at first. The lows took me by surprise and there was a time I would be in the lows and not be able to imagine ever getting out of them. I couldn’t see that it was possible to get past the ugly. Or maybe I mean get through the ugly to see the beautiful again. A very beautiful person started a movement that I sometimes believe was just for me, to See Beautiful and it is a message, a calling that plays in my head constantly. When it came to the hard parts of marriage, however, seeing the beautiful through the hard parts was next to impossible for me. But then, we got back to the beautiful parts. Somehow we were able to get through the ugly and back to the beautiful. And it felt so good again to be there. Despite the intensity of the hard, the soft place to land turned out to be in the same place – the same man. Over time things have gotten easier because I know, while I am in the dark, that the light will shine again. That there is an other side. There is a soft place to land. It is possible to get back to us again. and that the hard parts were actually necessary. The soft place to land is worth the pain. In the ebb and flow of marriage, I am learning to have faith and there is a different kind of being in the hard parts because I know that the pain, the discomfort, is temporary.

But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor,
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.
Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
For love is sufficient unto love.

Learning that the beautiful and the ugly parts of love – are simply a part of a Divine Design. A Divine Design to teach me how to be more human. It is a hard lesson for me. While I know it and can understand it in my head, I have a much harder time knowing it in my soul when I am in the middle or the ugly. But I am slowly but surely learning that the ugly is just as necessary as the beautiful  in the journey into Love.

When you love you should not say, “God is in my heart,” but rather, “I am in the heart of God.”
And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.

I am learning that I am in the heart of God. And while I am in the heart of God, I can only learn about my true nature. I am learning that I can always choose love. That I can choose love because it’s all there is. Even when I am at my worst. Love is always there as one option. Even when choosing love seems like the hardest thing to do. Love is always a choice. Love is always the right choice.

Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

Turns out even my marriage is a spiritual journey towards the Divine. Towards the soul of all our souls.  Towards Love. Turns out we’re all the same and time is not wasted when times are hard. The hard times are simply markers, reminders that I’m on the road and moving towards something greater…a more human self. A more Divine self. And despite being in between the fight and the forgiveness, I still give thanks for another day of loving and a prayer for my beloved in my heart and a song of praise that I get to know this kind of Love in my life. And gratitude for being spared the knowledge about the hard parts of marriage before choosing it because, had I not chosen marriage, I might never have known Love like this.

Here’s hoping he doesn’t read all this until AFTER the forgiveness. Because, you know…who needs vulnerability in between the fight and the forgiveness….

Jokes aside – I have to post this before I think twice about it and decide to hide a truth.

Truthfully yours,

Rhina

*The poem quoted throughout this post is from Kahlil Gibran’s book, The Prophet, which is a favorite of ours and one we quoted throughout our wedding book. How prophetic it has proven to be in our lives!

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12 responses to “Between the Fight and The Forgiveness

  1. As usual, I am moved and inspired by your writing and honesty and invitation for others to join in this thinking and what it means for their own lives…in their own lives. Thank you – more than you know – for the comments about See Beautiful. Your lines, “When it came to the hard parts of marriage, however, seeing the beautiful through the hard parts was next to impossible for me. But then, we got back to the beautiful parts. Somehow we were able to get through the ugly and back to the beautiful. And it felt so good again to be there.” echo pieces of why See Beautiful exists today. For in darkest of dark moments See Beautiful came to be. It was when I didn’t think beauty existed I started to SEE it all around. When I saw it I had to think about it. The more I thought about it the more I saw it. This cycle has changed my life. Simply put, I see beautiful.

    • justrhina says:

      I had no idea how See Beautiful started, Lydia. I kinda assumed it was most naturally you. Makes me want to sit down with you over a cocktail and learn more. I will be contacting you.

  2. Monica says:

    I love reading your writing! I think you will help many people who are in the beginnings of their married life, or those not married yet. We grow up watching TV shows and movies where there is always a happy ending without showing the fights or forgiveness. The one thing you said that to me is truer than anything is that love is a choice. We can choose love, or we can choose to be right, win the fight, argue the point, have our way, stay angry. From someone who has been married 32 1/2 years…I have been through all of the above, but have learned that love always wins because it is the greatest of all things. Our marriage survives because we choose to grow together rather than apart. We have learned what is worth fighting for and what is worth letting go. So now sometimes I win, sometimes he wins; sometimes I’m right, sometimes he’s right, but no matter what, love is what wins above all else. I choose to stay married despite the challenges, the hurt, the ups and downs. I choose love. ❤

    • justrhina says:

      Monica! Your words, coming from someone who has been married over 32 years, give me so much hope and encouragement. Thank you! Wise words! I’m still learning to live the lessons I’m learning so they come more naturally. Love wins – not me, not him. I will continue to choose love, too. Thanks!

  3. Oh goodness…this is kinda scary, but thanks for sharing since we’ve only been married less than a month:) LOL

  4. Erika says:

    Girl, you speak the truth! I love how you put it, being between the fight and forgiveness. That pretty much sums it up. You are not alone, at all, and yes, we all need to talk about the downs of marriage as well as the ups. I think if people talked more about the difficulties of marriage it would not discourage people but instead prepare them. I think the hard part is that our expectations are too high, so when they are not met, we are hurt and feel betrayed. As Chip and I approach our 15th wedding anniversary I have been thinking a lot about marriage and last night, in the middle of a minor argument, I found myself telling him that I think we should take this time to think about if we want to do this for the next 15 years. Of course I do, but at the time I was just so exhausted from having the same fight, over and over again I just could not see myself, in my 50’s, still arguing over the same things. But then, Chip turned, looked at me, and just smiled. Which should have pissed me off, but it didn’t. And all of the sudden, I couldn’t see my life any other way. Yes, we will still be fighting over the damned remote and how he doesn’t share enough with me or talk enough with me. But in that moment I realized that there are will always be fights, no matter who you are with and it really just comes down to who do you want to be “fighting” with. For me, it’s Chip! God willing, we all are here in 10, 15 years. That time will pass. The question is how do we want to spend it and with whom. Rhina, you are very much in the thick of it and I wish I could tell you it gets easier, but it does not. But I think you are on the right path–the realization that there are ugly times, ugly sides but far more beautiful if you are just willing to work hard to see it:)

    • justrhina says:

      Erika! Thank you for this comment. Your words mean so much to me – talk about speaking the truth! While I would never wish the ugly sides on anyone, it is so comforting to know that wonderful couples like you go through similar fires and keep showing up. You’re right – it is about who we want to be fighting with and for and Brian is surely the one for me. Love you guys and thank you for your encouragement and company.
      …and Chip does have a really great smile… 🙂

  5. Kara says:

    Beautifully said. On point. Thank you. Way to be bold and beautiful!

  6. Renee says:

    Thank you for sharing. People don’t share enough about the difficulties of marriage. I think that’s a big reason why so many are surprised by the institution’s challenges.

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