Funny how one man’s defeat is another man’s freedom. Isn’t it amazing how one spouse can feel uplifted and free while the other one feels defeated. What is even more amazing is that we can walk around and not realize these differences for what can be years unless we open up and talk about them with each other. And how many of us take the time to do that? I know I just assume that Pete feels the same way as me. If I am on an emotional high, then Pete is. If I am floating in God’s arms, then Pete is. If I am on vacation and feeling free, then Pete is too. Right? (You all can stop laughing here).
The point of this is, if we don’t communicate our feelings to one another, then our spouses will never comprehend what we are going through emotionally. Sometimes we NEED to communicate and share those feelings so that our spouse can also see our unique and beautiful view of life.
After selling our Florida condo last week, Pete and I journeyed down to pack up a few personal belongings (pictures, and might I add “stuff”) before closing. We sat outside one night looking at the ocean, and Pete shared with me that he felt defeated. Mostly because he felt like we had given up because it was too hard. I, on the other hand, felt freedom. Free from all of those rental calls about things that were broken. Free from all the emotional baggage of worrying about what is going on at the condo when we are 1000 miles away. Free of debt – that was a big one! But his feelings were valid, even if they were different from mine. His feelings were slanted by societal views, and I could relate to that.
Throughout this process of downsizing our lives, Pete and I have felt very differently about it. I have felt freedom and he has felt defeat. It is hard for a man to give up “things” in life (and I am not speaking badly of men because women can feel this way too). “Things” in life are what society tells us we should work toward. Unfortunately, those “things” can ruin our relationship with God. Our family had begun to idolize those things above God, and I knew that was wrong. Pete knew that was wrong too. Our family was beginning to look like society wanted us to look – and I didn’t like that. “Things” are not bad, but they are open doors to sinful behavior. And when we started to look like everyone else – I knew something was wrong. God made us all unique, and we shouldn’t conform to be something that God did not make us to be.
Pete and I began to realize over the last year, that our life could be significantly different without all that stuff. Instead of each of us having our own bathroom (like we did in our old house), we now share two. Actually four of us share one, and our teenager has her own in the basement (which trust me – is okay with me). Instead of having 4000 sq ft to run away from each other in, we now have 1200 sq ft to snuggle up together within. Instead of looking out at our neighbors everyday, we look out at 8 acres of woods and creek. It is different, and in my viewpoint, it is freeing.
Our perspectives may be different on what we have accomplished over this last year, but all in all, Pete and I both feel a closer relationship with God and our family.
Eventually, I suspect, Pete’s defeat will turn into freedom. We all have to work through emotions when big changes take place in our life. Even with the freedom I am feeling, I still am remorseful over losing “stuff”; I still am sad about “things” that are left behind. So Pete’s words made me feel like I wasn’t alone in my thoughts.
It seems easy to rid my life of stuff, but it seems hard to look at it through society’s eyes. I am the queen of throwing stuff out! I dream of a large dumpster being parked outside my house so I can trash all that “stuff” that people leave lying around. That has not been the hard part of this downsizing kick we are on. I think the difficult part of this ride has been watching others look at us. The thoughts go through my mind about what “they” might be saying… Did Pete lose his job? Have they racked up too much debt? Why are they selling off everything? Are they crazy? How do you think their kids feel? How can they just uproot their kids lives like that? It can be good for their family to just eliminate all that excess, I bet they will regret it.
Life has been a roller coast ride for all of us this last year. Those thoughts of doubt usurp me sometimes, and I can see where defeat could set in. I can see Pete’s side to the story, but I wouldn’t have, if he didn’t share it with me. By him sharing with me about his feelings of defeat, I could see his roller coaster ride a little more clearly. I mean this has been a roller coaster ride for us this past year. God has poignantly made his message clear to us. He has not nudged us, instead he has pushed us – hard. Listening to Pete made me realize that even though I thought we were on the same ride – we weren’t. He was on the roller coaster named Defeat. I was on the roller coaster named Freedom. He was on one with twists and turns and upside down hills. I was on the kiddie version. I thought we boarded the same ride. I thought we were in line together. I thought we were in the same car, but that was not the case.
In marriage, we can think we are all feeling the same way, yet that is so far from the truth. Communication can change that in an instant. We still might not board the same roller coaster, but we can share in the joys and sorrows of it by just communicating. I don’t like those roller coasters with twists and turns and upside down hills, but Pete does. I prefer the kiddie ones. I get to listen and relive Pete’s thrill ride though when he chooses to share it with me. He gets to hear my side too – which probably seems a little boring to him, but he listens anyway.
Defeat versus Freedom – it really doesn’t matter which ride you board, as long as the two of you end up walking off the ride together -in the arms of God.