Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Long Story, Short

There is no more insecure creature on the face of the earth than a new bride. Being an overachiever, I really excelled at that. It didn’t help that my new husband was still a friend to a young woman from his “prior life” who was everything I perceived I was not: witty, charming, well-traveled, sophisticated, utterly feminine and beautiful. A piece of advice for new husbands: if you stay in touch with old girlfriends, it’s easier on your wife if they are not devastatingly attractive.

My groom is truly one half of a whole; what I am, he is not. While I am generally considered a world class misanthrope, and came to the marriage with many aquaintances but few true friends, he’s one of those warm and genuine human beings who finds a way to respond to, to nurture, even to like nearly everyone he meets. He’s also a pack rat, of both people and possessions, letting go of anything or anyone only reluctantly. So it was that we stayed in touch with her.

There wasn’t a lot of contact, just an occasional visit when we returned to his family home on the east coast of Florida, and an invitation to her wedding. I had to be coaxed, cajoled and occasionally guilted into participation in these events, and they were truly torture for me. At that stage of life, it seemed to me that whatever my husband had to give to someone else was something taken away from me. I was a thorough-going and miserable victim of the green-eyed monster.

Over the ensuing years, we lost touch, hearing only snippets of news from time to time from my mother-in-law. My husband and I finished medical school, moved on to practice, had children and problems and joys like anyone else. Weathering storms and sharing joys has a way of lulling insecurities and after a while, jealousy faded.

Then, out of what appeared to be a clear, blue sky, my husband got an e-mail from this long lost friend. Did I mention that jealousy is a chronic disease? Although I wasn’t as fearful as in the past, I confess with great chagrin that I was, after nearly 30 years, wary of hearing from her again.

How wrong I was; it has turned out to be an opportunity for the Holy Sprit to drive home a long-needed lesson in humility and grace.

My groom was faithful about sharing her news with me whenever she wrote. His friend is a cradle Catholic, and one of those mystical, poetic souls who puts great words and action to her faith. A new Catholic myself, I followed these updates with interest, if not always the appreciation they deserved.

She also works with writers to get books through the publishing process, no surprise given that she had been enchanted with the written word from an early age. After a while, nudged by the Holy Spirit (or guilt or pride or egotism or some combination thereof), I tentatively sent her a link to this blog. We started corresponding directly.

It has brought a great gift. I have discovered a sister in Christ who loves my husband almost as much as I do, but in an entirely different way. I have discovered a friend who provides a sounding board to my ideas and shares her own. I discovered what I had always been told is true: love is inexhaustible—that I can only be enhanced when someone I love loves in return, whether he loves me or someone else. I discovered that I could voice my sorrow for years past and receive forgiveness from her as well as from God, with nary a hitch in our relationship. (What I have not yet discovered is what positive role I can play in her life, but that’s up to the Holy Spirit and I am content to wait on His good graces.)

I was once told that marriage is a way to discover how we are to relate to God, because it requires two totally different people to enter into life together and to discover and serve the best in each other. My marriage has made present the inexhaustible grace and patience of God and the gift of relationship with so many people. My Catholic faith has made me appreciate it and helped me grow in it.

Stubborn earth-bound and heaven bound (I hope) creature that I am, I need way-stations and signposts and companions along my journey. I am grateful to my husband and my friend for pointing the way and traveling at my side.

1 comment:

  1. I wish everyone would come to your way of thinking :-)
    I've witnessed how jealousy & hatred have destroyed many; yet I've only felt sorrow for these poor afflicted souls, who don't seem to know what true friendship means, & I pray they will be convicted by His Truths. I also pray for the victims of these abusers that they'll continue to be Blessed with His Peace, ...