I suppose I've given her reason…I have been aloof, working many hours overtime, moody and unapproachable. I work primarily with women, and the reality of work means that there are times when I'm with them far more than with my own family; that concerns her. Fortunately for my soul and our marriage, there is little chance of that.
I try to convince her that it couldn't happen with snarky remarks; "Oh, yes, they take a good long look at me and say, 'ooooh, nine kids…what a catch'"; reality is I am not very attractive at this point in my life. To be sure, there seems to be no shortage of infidelity, and the homely are no exception (spend one hour with Jerry Springer)…but my lack of allure is deeper. I have not been a happy person.
I adore my wife, and the mere thought of our separation by any means produces waves of anxiety and grief; she has remained loving when in many ways I am rather unlovable. She has had grief of her own when our spiritual lives diverged some two years ago -- she remained a missionary…but me? I'm not quite sure even now. She loves when I am unlovable, is patient when I am unreasonable and gruff, shows compassion even when I am unmerciful to those who mean most. To leave her would be my undoing.
Perhaps I am in a mid-life crisis of sorts. I feel separated from my youth more than ever. I am beginning to realize that time is limited; ambition loses relevance in such consideration. The things that I considered peripheral have begun to weigh heavily on my heart: my relationship with my children, my wife, friends, how and for what I would be remembered.
Up to this point I had definite ideas of what success is and how it is measured; now I am not as sure. I have always believed that each of us is called to great things and that I had the potential to be a force of change; isn't that what we teach our children? Now I consider that more likely most of us are called to be ordinary and small in the estimation of the world. Mother Teresa said we are not called to be successful, just faithful. That always seemed quaint to me, pithy enough to print on a card or wall-hanging; now it hovers in my thoughts, almost accusingly.
I don't pretend to be a failure; I have succeeded in some things, done well in my career and still have some potential…but much of my life is rather ordinary, and at this moment in my life I feel comforted by that. I have left it behind for greater pursuits, but now feel called to re-learn what ordinary life is all about. And the most important part of ordinary life I need to re-discover is my faith.
I have read the stories of wonder and miracles and have heard of the grandeur of God through the words of those who have seen it first-hand…but most of us won't see the Red Sea part or follow a column of fire through a desert; we won't see the dead raised and the blind restored to sight. For you and me, God comes to us in the ordinary -- the cry of a baby, the love of a woman, the bonds of friendship, the grass under our feet, the sun on our backs. The grandeur of God's love appears ordinary precisely because it surrounds and envelopes us day-in and day-out. It is quite nearly routine…and in that routine I have become indifferent, even bored -- because I didn't see it.
I have always struggled to believe that God loves me. I feel a need to earn it, prove my worth before deserving it, which is so contrary to what I have been taught. I expected His love to be shown in some magnanimous, extraordinary way. Now I am beginning to see that in its constant, abiding presence God's love for me is just…ordinary. Perhaps that is the most extraordinary thing of all.