Some years ago, I read a parable of three women that became my guide for how I wanted to live Christian womanhood--but, unknown to me, that story poisoned my vision of womanhood.
This was the parable, as I remember it.
Taking a quick break from my Incredible Journey posts, I'd like to highlight a meditation that has recurred often for me recently...
Is marriage a distraction from whole-hearted devotion?
When I was single, I often struggled with a disturbing fear: that my future marriage would distract me from true, single-minded devotion to God. That was always very concerning to me, even though I vaguely understood that having a husband would likely consume much of my time and--let's face it--my affection.
Day 8 - July 25, 2018
Glacier National Park has always been one of Paul's favorite national parks. At first, I could not see why. It was pretty, but not spectacular, as we wound our way up and up and up into the morning clouds.
Then we emerged from cloud and twisted round a bend in the road and I caught my breath.
Mountains. Like I had never seen them before.
Day One - July 18, 2018
Beginning from our home in Virginia, Paul and I set out on the first leg of our adventure. We were on a timeline, because we had determined to meet Paul’s parents in North Dakota the following evening.
"Most people would panic at this point," Paul remarked and exhaled deeply. "And to be honest, part of me really wants to panic. But I think this is an opportunity. Want to go on an adventure?"
But our eyes are on you.
The Judeans were a desperate people. The kingdoms of Ammon, Moab, and others were marching against the people of Judah.
"A great multitude is coming against you..."
This was no secret thing. All of the people knew it. Imagine the panic. Work postponed for the day as the people gathered tensely to hear what their king would say to comfort, to rally. But as he looked out over the assembled families--even the children! the children!--he felt only the sick acid knot in his heart. He had to stand and he had to speak and he had only one thing to say.
It first showed up in November. I felt exhausted, crippled with aching flu-like pain, and edged with the threat of tears. At some point during the worship service, my fiance leaned forward and whispered, "Do I need to take you someplace more comfortable?"
Torn between my desire to be with the people of God, but aware that I was unable to actually enjoy their presence, at last I acquiesced.
My legs had turned to jelly and the cacophony in my head made sight difficult, so my fiance led me. As soon as he opened the outer door of the church sanctuary, a wall-blast of light assaulted me. My legs crumpled.
Paul picked me up and carried me to the closest couch. For the next hour, my entire body spasmed violently, alternating between tremors, full-body whiplashing, intense contractions forward and backward. It was the first time anything like that had ever happened to me, and yet, as my soon-to-be-husband prayed quietly over me, I felt perfectly calm. Even as a prisoner of my body, my mind felt utterly relaxed.
When I was in third grade, I threw a hissy fit because I got one word wrong on my spelling test. What I did not know at the time was that my mother was testing me from the fifth grade list, and I had gotten all the other words right. Recounting the story years later at my high school graduation as a witness to my academic skills, she added, "And Yaasha has learned over the years to be more gracious with herself."
Ah, but it is a lesson I have had to learn over and over and over.
"What can I get you?" Paul asked as he stooped over me.
"New tonsils," I replied. It was week two of mono--a virus like the worst, longest, and most painful flu you can imagine--and I felt like a disgusting ball of misery.
Paul laughed softly and seated himself next to me on the couch, careful not to bump me or to move suddenly. After hours--weeks, really--of caring for my every little need, he knew that my best therapy was simply having him near.
"She is a brave woman."
My husband spoke the words thoughtfully, knowing full well what he said, but my heart was still breaking for my friend.
"But over twenty miscarriages!" I sobbed, unable to stop the tears. "No woman wants to be brave for that reason."
He was right, and I was right. No one is ready to be brave, because bravery demands so much more pain than we ever think we are capable of enduring, and so much more trust than we dare to give. And yet we are called to be brave.
None of my life has gone the way it was "supposed to go," but I don't love my life any less because of the hardships and new directions. I see so much unexpected good in it, and I want others to see the good in theirs.