My son is going tomorrow morning for his drivers test behind the wheel. It will either be the beginning of a whole new reality of life for him or he will have to reschedule and try again. Pass or Fail.
You just don’t know how strong your relationship will be until it’s tested. Sometimes it fails quickly and you just chalk it up as a learning experience. But sometimes it seems really good at first and then fails over time after key moments and tests.
I learned in time that the bond between Martin and I only seemed thick and strong when everything was going his way. As soon as things started going a way he didn’t approve…SNAP! He’d disappear, sometimes for days after bad news. Or he’d react by attacking me. I kept hoping he’d pass the next test but after many big failures it finally became clear to me.
Why begin a relationship unless you believe the result from combining your lives will be great? It’s like a scientist reacting to a brainstorm. I can put this person with that person and wallah! Success. But he doesn’t know until he tests his hypothesis under many difficult circumstances. Test…test…and retest…until he can say with confidence that yes his theory was correct.
After years of tests they are either going to become weak and ultimately fail or they are going to rise to the top and be a winner.
Harry and my relationship went through another test yesterday. I brought up the faith issue. This difference between us is about the only threat to our relationship that either of us can think of. It leaves both of us wondering how to proceed. We had a difficult conversation that left Harry feeling hurt and afraid that I was going to jump ship and abandon him. I knew I was saying things he didn’t like. I knew by saying them he could wash his hands of me, get up and walk himself out.
We opened the door.
Anybody want to get out? Cause if you do, now is the time.
Only neither of us went anywhere. Far from being like the guy in Colorado who jumped off the balcony at the movie theater leaving his girlfriend to care to the needs of their infant and small child with bullets flying in a room with a gunman. Harry’s concern was for me not for himself. He refused to react to preserve himself. He could have, but he didn’t. Why? Because he cared. He knew if he reacted that way he might lose me and he didn’t want to lose me. So he maintained. And I noticed.
It’s the opposite of what I’ve had happen in the past. Why react by lashing out? Because it makes you feel better at the expense of the other person. It’s selfish. It’s short-sighted. He did not do it.
Both of us were candidly honest and knew certain words we spoke could alter the result. And that is what made it a true test. He did not try to placate me. He stayed true to his convictions. In the end he put his hands across the table and I put my hands in his. And we both squeezed hard.
When I saw him for the first time after 25 years now nearly four months ago, I was struck by his physicality. His size. His features. Now, I look deep into his eyes and straight through to his heart. This giant of a man is pure gold.
He said, “I will respect you 100%. I will love you with all of my heart. And you will never find another man who will do either more than me. If you walk out that door, I will wait for you. I won’t chase you, but I will wait, because I love you and I will until the day I die.”
I could tell on his face that he meant it.
Even though there were people all around us, the entire world could have disappeared at that point. He promised that whatever happened and whatever he decided or didn’t decide that it would be completely authentic. “If I end up becoming a believer, you will know in your heart that it is real for me.” I asked him why. And he said, “Because if all I wanted to do is please you, to keep you, I would have done it already.”
I had to give him that. We were both putting honesty over safety. The door was open and either one of us were given the option to bail.
We held each other and kissed and said, “I love you.” I told him that it was not my intention to change him, nor was it my purpose.” And he said he knew that. He said that he wanted to keep coming to church with me and he wanted to keep learning.
Then he said, “There has to be a reason for us being together. It’s like a miracle because under normal circumstances it really would never have happened.”
I said, “Well, isn’t believing that, a demonstration of faith?”
He shrugged and said, “Maybe it is.”
I believe faith is always based on something you know. You have to have good reason for having faith in the first place or else you are just taking a leap in the dark. Harry and I know that the likelihood of us becoming a couple would probably never have happened unless it happened exactly as and when it did. And it leaves us both with a hope that there is a bigger reason behind it.
Time will tell. We shall see.
But for now…this memoir is for me a snapshot in time. An attempt to capture the scene, the feelings, the struggle of each and every test. So that looking back I can see clearly just what it was that led to a pass or fail.