Thursday, August 21, 2014

Honest communication = Life

In my last blog post, I reflected on the renewing of my perspective on life and work in South Asia.  That post and the following one are part of a series of posts dedicated to processing some of the emotions experienced during the course of the Wycliffe Discovery trip this past summer.

Elizabeth: "I wonder if we could return and live overseas as a family."
Jason: "I wonder if we can fly home tomorrow."
I've heard the first year of marriage is stretching regardless of where you live and what you do.

When we landed in South Asia on July 1st, 2014, Jason and I had only completed 7 months and 8 days of our marriage.  And here we were in another country for 5 weeks straight.

Yup, I definitely felt a pull on my brand new marriage muscles.

Let me start with this picture and some very real thoughts and feelings that Jason and I experienced multiple times on the trip.

Read the captions.

At one point, about a week or so into the trip, I noticed Jason was quieter than normal.  Quieter even than he had been during jet-lag which was pretty quiet.  After a day or so of this, I asked him what was wrong.  He didn't answer at first.  I tried to dig a little more into his silence.

Another day or so later, he finally shared that he was struggling.  He said, "This is really hard."
I said, "What is hard?"
He paused for a second and then said, "well… everything."
We talked for a bit and then eventually he said, "Honey I love you, but I don't think I could ever live over here."

There it was.  He said it.

He had tried not to say it because he knew it wouldn't help my current role as a team leader in any way.  He knew it had great potential to discourage me, frustrate me or just break my heart.

And… he was right… on some levels.

As he shared his feelings with me, there was a bit of a death of a dream for me.  While I had not come to South Asia expecting my husband to receive a great calling on his life to move overseas long term, I probably did consider that possibility in my mind at least to a small extent.  Hearing him verbally state the impossibility of it sent any potential hope to the grave.

But… in order for there to be life, many times something has to die.

Jason's honesty gave greater life to our relationship.  After he shared, I felt like our relationship had been given space, fertilizer, sunlight and water to grow.  Who knew honest communication could be so powerful?

About a week later, I became somewhat withdrawn in my communication with Jason.

He asked and I told him in a fit of stubbornness that, "…Sometime around mid-August after we get back I will allow myself to feel and think about my emotions.  Til then I have to keep it in."

Well that lasted about a day.

Finally, I shared with him honestly, "Well, honey…the past couple days I've been trying to figure out how we could live here as a family."

There it was.  I said it.

I had tried not to say it because 1) I knew that it wasn't exactly a possibility at the moment and 2) it probably wouldn't be encouraging to Jason since he had already shared that he really wasn't feeling called to move back overseas.  I knew it had great potential to complicate our relationship, or make Jason feel guilty in some way.

And… that did happen… on some levels.

Jason asked me questions, and helped me process.   I shared with him how in spite of these strong convictions I felt, I felt an even stronger pull to be his wife, and right now that represents itself in us not living overseas, and I knew that was from the Lord.

Like before, life grew out of our honest sharing.  Jason was relieved just to be let in to my world of feelings, even if they weren't in line with his own.  And in that moment when I shared with him, knowing that Jason wanted to know was more important to me than the need for us to be on the same page with our thoughts.

Honesty.  Communication.  Together.  Life.

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