(Originally published on February 23, 2015)
This afternoon, as our car winded over back roads and sliced through the dirty slush that was beautiful white snow just yesterday, I found that the road conditions were but a reflection of my mood.
I woke up in a funk; the kind that’s hard to shake despite all the prayer, positive thoughts, and self-will I could muster. I can’t stand being in this state of mind. When it comes, just the thought of being in it frustrates me even more.
Maybe I should’ve just stayed home. I thought maybe some fresh air would be good to lift my spirits, but I regretted it immediately when I realized how nasty of a mess things were outside. I glared at the puddles and frowned at the blackened snow along the sides of the road.
Scott held my hand and squeezed it every now and then. He asked me over and over if I was okay, and each time I answered him flatly that I would be. I hadn’t let on, but I was so grateful for the hand-holding. His strong but gentle grasp seemed to almost anchor me in reality and prevent me from spiraling too far down into my own misery.
I’m pregnant. Uncomfortably pregnant, with hormones raging unchecked through my body. Try as I might, I couldn’t remember why I had been praying so hard for this very thing just months ago. It bothered me that I could be so ungrateful. That it could be so hard to remember wanting this so badly.
He was upbeat. Relentlessly upbeat. It filled in the gaps of what I was able to be for the girls today, but it also agitated me at times, I’m ashamed to admit.
In his determination to remain cheerful, he refused to restrain himself from swerving into every puddle we encountered. It sent the girls into fits of giggles and even inspired an impressed “WHOA, that was awesome!” when the splashes were significant enough.
I, in my determination to remain very UNcheerful, looked over at him and stared at him blankly, sure that he knew full-well what that stare meant. Unlike our girls, I was completely unimpressed.
Unwavering in his demeanor, he grinned at me wide, obviously pleased with himself. “What?!” he said. “I just sincerely find joy in that!”
I turned away and resumed my icy stare out the window. He’s taken joy in splashing through the puddles in our car for as long as I’ve known him. He’s been known to do this in warmer weather, when my window is wide open. I think he finds some weird satisfaction in my shooting him the stink-eye when he does it, but he claims he does it to do his part to help prevent flooding.
I wished I could find joy today. In anything. Better yet, I wished I could just crawl into a hole and not come back out until this mood had passed.
He took his hand away to adjust the volume on the radio. Then he adjusted his position and started using that hand to steer with.
And suddenly I found myself wishing he would reach over and take my hand again. You know – like that youthful, fluttery feeling where you’re almost trying to will it to happen with your mind powers.
He did moments later and gave it another squeeze, but I realized in that window of time that although I was unable to outwardly appear playful or bubbly, I did find joy in something. The quiet, peaceful joy you experience within a love like ours.
A love that isn’t loud or exuberant most days, but simple, unassuming, and humble. The kind that doesn’t have to apologize for or explain the misery. The kind that’s willing to just see you through it. One so deep that he could love me when I’m so unlovable.
A partnership that’s grown to understand that love is a choice to act, and not a feeling. I marvel that I am on the receiving end of something so sacred, and I am eager to return it.
I find joy in our love, which is patient enough to let the storm clouds roll by and get us through the valleys. It’s one that’s been slowly morphing us into better versions of ourselves over the past decade; versions of ourselves that better resemble our Creator.
Indeed, there’s much joy to be found in a love where much of what needs to be said can be expressed with just the squeeze of a hand.
As I sit here trying to sort out my feelings, I hear splashing and shrieks and giggles coming from the bathroom upstairs. He’s ordered me to sit a while and relax while he bathes our youngest. I realize I’m completely undeserving of a love like this one. Undeserving, yes. But very, very, thankful.