Marriage Letters: How We Co-labor
That ancient gallon-sized pickle jar in the garage is full of old homemade chicken broth, isn’t it? It went bad while I was in Haiti, and you had the four boys by yourself, and I bet it started to smell iffy in there, so you pulled it out of the fridge and ran it to the garage so you could carry on with the grind. It’s possible that we all die from it somehow. I nearly died when I saw it. It could blow up, you know. Anyway, I’m not touching that stuff. This is worthy of a stand-off, and I’m not saying I haven’t considered putting it in the trunk of your car, but other than that, we really are co-laborers, aren’t we?
I’ve always known you would send me places, but I never actually expected it because that hasn’t been modeled for me. Right, wrong, or indifferent, I grew up in a world where women stay home, unless the bills require her work. I don’t think I ever grew to expect to be anywhere other than my own kitchen. Let’s be honest, though; no matter how good my attitude is, I’ve never shined a single day in the kitchen unless we’re talking biscuits or cornbread, but that also isn’t very special where I come from.
When we were younger, you would read my poetry, but it never crossed my mind that my art could be a contrast to the world, that my voice wasn’t it’s own blend of the noise. I never would have thought to put my work up against real poets to get into a good program. You were the one that said I could, and so then I did.
You’ve always prefaced your words with “I’m not usually charismatic, but [insert charismatic statement here.]” I’ve known for a long time that the Spirit speaks very clearly to you and through you. I believe the greatest part of co-laboring is how ones sees into the unseen, like how you’ve prayed and seen a kingdom fit for me, the intentions of a good God. We are reclaiming the word “prophecy” together. I look at you and see every shade of good, not depraved, not jackass, not man who forgets chicken broth in the garage. You look at me and see poet, lover, thinker, not woman who leans exhausted at the counter, not woman whose ideas carry less weight. This is the energy behind how we work together.
I always thought that only one of us would get to pursue what we love, the words and the travelling, the music and the campfire communion. What I expected was that you would pursue what you love, and that I would let go of my passions to back you up. You’ve been to Africa three times without me, but something happened in me as you dove deeper into your passions. I believed you. I closed my eyes and saw it. I accept the shifting in you as my own shifting. It wasn’t my dying and your coming alive. When one follows into something, it gives life to the both of us.
Unity is an enmeshing. This is how the Spirit of God works. When I reported back to you from Haiti, you took what I was hearing and seeing, and a vision formed in you as well. We are always two perspectives colliding. We are always a paradox at work, a mystery working itself out. When I was there, I only saw more and more how we fit together. How Mike says you come alive on the ground, I was coming alive, too.
Clouds seem to be gathering hard and strong for us. We are shifting, and if one shifts, the other has to shift as well. This isn’t a one-legged race. Two sets of eyes provide two ways to see the world. We are one. We are each a leg holding up a body. We lean in, shift, balance, and somehow move forward. Into what, I don’t think we know yet. Co-laboring is submission, sure, but not that one can stand and the other can fall. This is the kind of submission that brings life.
You don’t have to walk with me the way you do. It’s our culture to drag and hobble along. Sometimes we even run.
Right now I think our heart rate is up a bit, don’t you?
Okay, folks, join us and write a letter to your spouse even if your spouse isn’t able to play along. This stuff has been good for us. Today write about “How We Co-labor,” and on the first Monday of next month, June 2nd, our topic will be “On Comparison.” Take it how you will: about comparing your marriage to other marriages or comparing yourself to your spouse or how comparison has been a struggle. This month watch for it, and write in June what you saw.