Saturday, February 28, 2009

Depression and Marriage

Lately I've been feeling pretty depressed.  I don't mean like indie-rocker write songs about how much the world sucks-depressed, but more like a general feeling that God and the world are out to get me and that in response I should stay in bed all day.  I mean, what's the point if I'm just going to be disappointed all day anyway.  Of course, this isn't a possibility because I'm married and my wife would never allow it, but nevertheless that's how I've felt.

Actually, my wife is the one who made me feel guilty about being depressed.  She didn't say anything like, "Get your lazy @$$ out of bed!", in fact, she didn't really say or do anything.  She understands that it is part of life, and especially when you are adjusting to a new country.  What made me feel guilty was that as the days passed and my sulking increased, Valérie started to feel the same way.  The more I became quiet and withdrawn, the more sullen and hopeless she felt.  Of course, she would never use the word hopeless.  It's too extreme for her.  But she started to see everything turning black along with me.  

I just finished a facebook chat with a teenager here in the village.  He asked me what marriage is like and if I had any advice for him.  Online chatting is hardly a medium worthy of such a sacred topic, but I wrote back, saying "It's hard, but it's great."  He was confused by this.  "What do you mean, 'hard'?"  

Only since I've been married have I begun to see the depths of my sin and selfishness.  Everyday there is some small revelation about how I'm failing to die for my wife.  After all, the apostle Paul tells husbands to love their wives, giving themselves up for her as Christ did for His church.  I'm part of Christ's bride, the church, and everyday I act like I'm the most important person in the world.  And what does Jesus do?  He pays for my sin.  No matter what.  There is nothing I can do or say that His blood can't cover.  

It's this same selfless love that God teaches us through marriage.  When she doesn't want to go for a walk because "there's a lion in the streets," or leaves the cap off the toothpaste, or seemingly complains about everything (which I'm slowly learning is part of being French), God is giving me an opportunity to love her and give myself up for her--to overlook her sins the way God overlooks mine.  Sadly, I usually hold it against her and grumble about in my mind, but I'm learning.  When you're single, there is a real freedom to sin that isn't there when you're married.  As a single, you can take refuge in the fact that nobody really knows you.  It's pretty easy to keep the facade and portray yourself to the world as you want to be seen.  But when it comes to your husband or wife, you're naked.  Every blemish is visible.

What does this mean for me as a husband?  It means that when I see all of Valérie's imperfections and shortcomings, I have a choice to make.  I can either focus on those blemishes until they are all I can see of her, or I can be like Christ and see her as she should be, as she will be.  This is very difficult.  The more I can criticize her faults the more I can convince myself that I'm good, or at least better than her.  But God designed marriage to show me my utter failure in loving my wife, because that's how we learn about His love.

So, Valérie, I'm sorry that you have to suffer, but I hope you are learning as much as I am.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Valérie is Pregnant, or, I Knocked Up My Wife

Just covering all my bases.  Email, facebook, and now the blog.  Valérie is pregnant, and so by God's grace we will be parents by the end of August.  Words can't really describe the roller-coaster of feelings that I've been riding about all of this.  I've never felt so out of control and preoccupied for someone's health in my life.  And I don't even know the one that is growing in my wife as I write this.  But it is also driving me to seek God.  

My feeling completely out of control is only compounded by the importance of the situation I find myself in.  It's one thing to not understand what the cashier says to you at the grocery store, but to watch a doctor in a medical system that you don't understand hurriedly mumble and point at things in a fuzzy picture that you don't understand, and all of this in a language that you don't understand, is a lot more stressful.  Sometimes my stomach hurts because of it all.

Right before Christmas Valérie had to go to the emergency room for something about the baby.  Here is part of a journal entry I wrote while waiting for her:  "Right now I can only find comfort in God Himself.  In His love, His sovereignty, His character.  I know the God who created the universe, in all his power and majesty, yet here my only resort is begging.  I've got no eloquent prayers or reasons why He should be merciful; just begging.  'Please, God.  Please.'  It's my heart's cry."

It's stressful, and I imagine that won't ever change, no matter where I live, but I'm thankful that it all points to something bigger than myself, and that it's all heading somewhere.  I trust Him.  We humans are a hopeless cause in ourselves, but in Him we have everything.  And that's enough.