A good wife is the crown of her husband…
The road back east stopped in Toledo and I believe it was a solid time of growth for both Mom and I. It could very well have gone the other way … from day one.
As I said before, we were estranged from the church. I undertook the job not as a job, but as a ministry … and I was asking Mom to buy into it.
She did. Thanks, Clarence!
The move was difficult for all of us. Joe was, of course, off on his own, but it meant uprooting Dee from her high school friends. It may have been a little easier for the younger ones. It was definitely hard for Mom, who tried to keep the house clean for prospective buyers (yea, right, with you guys), who tried to keep some stability to the home in an unstable situation, who tried to make the best of being a “weekend” wife.
Here’s a column I wrote way back in November 1988 — just six weeks after I started at the Catholic Chronicle — that summed it all up. I share it because I didn’t with Mom until after it was written. And I remember vividly her weepy, positive reaction after she saw it in print. It was a pivotal point that opened doors in Toledo.
… Trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence rely not; in all your ways be mindful of Him, and He will make straight your paths … (Proverbs 3:5-6)
How often do we trust in the Lord with all our heart? Completely? Without hesitation? Without retaining just a little bit of self-indulgent “control” over the situation at hand?
That thought was summed up in a maxim I read this week: Prayer is asking for rain; faith is bringing an umbrella.
As some of you may know, my family is still in Illinois. I’ve donned the role of part-time husband and father and a weekend commuter. It’s a new role for me, and one that I don’t particularly relish. Inevitably, my weekend is capped with a Somber Sunday evening, followed by a Blue Monday and a Down Tuesday.
On one of my recent commutes back to Ohio, I was particularly down and vulnerable. It seemed as if nothing was going right. Leaving my family was getting more painful. We were getting little to no house-buying traffic in Illinois. The homes I saw in the Toledo area that would fit my family wouldn’t fit my budget. Those that fit my budget wouldn’t fit my family. I still hadn’t seen a home that didn’t a) needed immediate remodeling to squeeze everyone in; b) need immediate repair to make it livable; or c) both of the above.
“Lord, I don’t understand,” I cried out as I entered the Ohio Turnpike. “What’s happening? At least give us some hope we’ll be together soon. You espouse family, yet You are allowing us to be separated. It doesn’t make sense, Lord. I’m asking for help and You’re throwing these roadblocks. I don’t understand.”
As I checked in with home, my wife and I were commiserating about the situation. We were both mired in self-pity, but she commented, “I guess I’ve resigned myself to this separation.”
Nobly, I responded, “So have I. But I don’t have to like it!”
Before that tag line could roll off my tongue, the whole situation came into focus. It was like one of those proverbial light bulbs coming on. I don’t have to like it!
It suddenly became crystal clear I had turned the situation over to the Lord, but kept that little bit of control. He wasn’t acting fast enough to suit me. I was becoming impatient, which led to irritation, which was leading to bitterness. I expected the Lord to work at my convenience.
Whoops! It’s supposed to be the other way around, isn’t it?
So, Lord, I publicly turn this chapter over to You. Completely. Without reservation. With the knowledge You can fit the pieces of the puzzle together without my intervention, just as You have so many times before. In Your time frame, not mine.
And, in the spirit of Thanksgiving — which we just celebrated — I want to reflect on the blessings that have subtly been given through this separation. Lord, I thank you for:
^ the opportunity to serve You;
^ the warmth of all whom I have come into contact with in the diocese;
^ the safe passage during my shuttle from Illinois and Ohio and my treks throughout the diocese, especially that first trip to Toledo. Literally, I was just minutes ahead of severe storms all the way from Belvidere to Toledo, but You kept the road clear and the clouds contained and held me in Your hand;
^ my wife, Karen, a strong woman who has become stronger with each day. She is my strength;
^ our marriage. After 20 years, you sometimes forget the excitement and magic of marriage. You tend to take each other for granted. This separation has changed that. We feel renewed and re-energized. We look forward to our weekends, to seeing and sharing with each other. We’ve rekindled some of the romance that first attracted us. It’s like going out on a special “date,” a part of the process that often slips away through the years. Our communication skills have improved. Our commitment has been strengthened. “We” and “You” have replaced “I” as operative words. We have become more sensitive to each other. We are probably closer now — 326 miles apart — than we have ever been;
^ my family. A hug and a kiss and a scribbled note or picture is invaluable;
^ the little things, like cards or notes from home or an unexpected phone call;
^ Your lessons. Sometimes it takes awhile for those lessons to sink in.
I may not understand Your ways, Lord, but I think I’m starting to understand Your whys. You’ll have to excuse me now. I have to get my umbrella.
THOUGHT FOR THE NEXT TWO WEEKS: We cannot cause the wind to blow the way we want it to, but we can so adjust our sails that they will take us where we want to go.”
To be continued…
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: At any moment, you can choose peace.