Some days I’m okay with that. Some days I’m not. I’ve been emotional.
I hoped the marriage retreat would give us a chance to just get away from trying to figure out how we are going to somehow win the lottery to afford all those college bills and just decompress. And while I certainly decompressed and enjoyed being unconnected from the real world (we couldn’t even use our cell phones) I walked away with something more profound.
On the last day of the retreat, Terry and David (the marriage coaches), asked which one in the marriage relationship was the more dominate one. The one who liked to be in control. For anyone that knows me, I’m sure it comes as no surprise I was the one who had to raise my hand. Terry asked those of us with our hands raised to take a couple of steps forward. David then asked the remaining spouses to follow him.
Terry encouraged us control freaks to discuss why we liked to be the one in charge. Honestly, I like to be in control because it is hard for me to trust the other person will do everything that needs to be done or do it the right way aka the way I would do it.
All of a sudden in the middle of our discussion, a blindfold was placed over my eyes. Glen then placed one hand on the small of my back and said, “I need to tell you three things.
1) Listen only to my voice.
2) You can trust me.
3) I will never leave you.”
He then asked me to start walking forward. As a result of my brain condition, I have trouble walking straight with my eyes open let alone blindfolded. A fall of any kind leaves me hurting for days and sometimes weeks.
I began to question Glen, “Are you sure this is a good idea? Maybe you should hold my hand.” I sounded as shaky as my trembling hands.
After a short distance, I could feel I was now walking over uneven and slippery rocks. Glen asked me to shift my weight back as we would begin descending down an embankment.
He still only had one hand on the small of my back!
“Glen, it would be terrible for me if I fell. I really wish you would put your arm around me.”
Instead of responding to any of my questions or concerns, Glen just told me, “Listen to my voice. You can trust me. “His voice sounded so sure, so confident.
Somehow I made it down the hill and then Glen took my backpack from me and told me to scrunch down. A couple of steps forward and I could sense I was now in a very tight and enclosed space. I couldn’t stand straight or extend my arms.
I feel the need to mention, I am one of the most claustrophobic women on planet earth!
I have to be drugged with Valium whenever I need an MRI of my brain. I panicked. I could barely breathe. I felt dizzy. My heart beat so rapidly I feared I might pass out. I took several steps backward.
“Glen I can’t do this. I am terrified. I need to get out of here. I don’t want to quit, but I honestly can’t stay in this tube anymore. Maybe if you could tell me how long I will have to be in here or let me take off this blindfold I could do it.”
His warm hand enveloped my trembling one. “Jess, you can trust me. I..Will..Never..Never..leave ..You.
In the wake of those words, I thought about everything we had overcome together in the 17 years of marriage. The good days. The dark days. The days before I got sick. The many nights after.
As the tears poured down my faced and pooled at the bottom of my blindfold, I held onto his hand like the lifeline his friendship and love have been to me and I continued to walk forward. After what seemed an eternity, I walked into open space again.
I felt different. Something changed in that tube.
I no longer questioned him anymore. Even when I heard someone say, “Glen I wouldn’t lead her that way. She is going to get hurt,” I continued to follow his directions. At some point he stopped touching my back, but I didn’t even notice. I was walking with confidence and with the full assurance nothing was going to happen to me because my husband was walking beside me.
We have both discussed this particular exercise many times since coming home. It was a powerful moment for both of us. But as I’ve continued to reflect, I see that this exercise encompasses our faith journeys as well.
It is easy to follow God when we feel in control. When we can see where we are headed. Then all of a sudden we’re blindsided. We get sick or lose a loved one. Our financial resources disappear or someone deeply wounds us. We no longer know if things are going to be okay.
Listen to My voice…
God asks us to follow, but it is really hard to trust when we’ve no idea where we’re headed. Instead of the steady path we were on, we now struggle to maintain our balance on the slippery rocks of pain and loss and discouragement.
Then instead of getting better our situation or circumstances tighten around us. We panic. We lose faith. We don’t think we can survive what we’re facing. We start pulling away from God once again wanting to be in control of our lives. We insist, “Father, I can’t do this anymore. Maybe if You’d tell me how much longer I have to endure this or if You’d let me see how this is all going to turn out I’d be able to follow You.”
You can trust Me…
We cling to Him with everything we have because we remember all the times we thought we were alone, but weren’t. The nights we wondered if we’d ever know peace again and He met us in our pain and just loved us through it. The things in our lives so dark no good could ever come from them, but in His hands became a masterpiece of redemption and of grace.
So somehow we move forward. And it’s hard… oh so hard. We can hear those around us call us crazy for praying or think we’re some sort of a religious fanatic. They offer peace in the bottom of a bottle, in financial success, or in a relationship. We strain to hear His voice. We think about all the times we didn’t think we’d make it, but we did. All the times we felt abandoned, but can now clearly see that God had been walking right beside us the whole time.
I will never, never leave you…
All of a sudden we feel the Son on our face and we emerge in the midst of what we are facing confident. We still can’t see where we are going, but we know Who is walking beside us and somehow that becomes enough.
And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them. Isaiah 42.16 ESV
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