I love marriage counseling, I really do.
But I’ve learned that it’s best to enter into it with a disclaimer to couples. Something along the lines of:
“This process will be one of the most difficult things you have ever done. At some point, you will want to give up. Things will probably get worse before they get better. You may lose hope in each other, but that’s ok, because Jesus and I never will. I promise to do my best to join in the story that is your marriage, and to help to write a new script, one that will be full of hope, shared joy and meaning.”
I do this intentionally – mostly to cover my butt. Because it will be hard, we are often untangling years and years of destructive patterns, harsh words buried deep, childhood trauma, etc.
It is not a cake walk!
It is sacred work.
It is humanity at the brink of despair.
Poverish. Weak. Vulnerable. The problem is, none of us wants to feel any of these emotions, so we ignore, distract, work harder, essentially, we avoid the reality of our own hearts.
This is the great tragedy. Because if the King of the World felt these emotions, aren’t we called to do the same?
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:3-4.
Last week I experienced a really intense couples session. The husband is a giant of a man, as we neared the end of our session, he was brought to sorrowful, painful, tears. His wife and I looked on, with very different emotions, but each of us were glassy-eyed and silent. A rare thing was happening, he was allowing himself to be poor, weak, and vulnerable. This is an unsettling place for any person, but especially for a man.
Mirroring his pain was my number one goal in that moment – providing a safe place, free from the weight of guilt and shame. My poverty connected to his poverty – common ground every human shares.
Becoming the Church of the Poor
When we claim our own poverty and connect our poverty with the poverty of our brothers and sisters, we become the Church of the poor, which is the Church of Jesus. Solidarity is the Church of the poor. Both pain and joy must be shared. As one body we experience deeply one another’s agonies as well as one another’s ecstasies. Every time we love others deeply we feel their pain deeply. However, joy is hidden in the pain. When we share the pain we will also share the joy.
Bread for the Journey by Henri Nouwen
Abiding in poverty, and joy today,