When Fire Marries Gasoline*

This marriage should have caution tape around it.

Yeah. It’s sometimes a bit hazardous over here at my house.

What if I told you there were a few times in 23 years I drove off in my car and plotted leaving but just couldn’t find the nerve?

Marriage isn’t a subject that I often write about. Not because I don’t know stuff. It just feels weird because marriage (lived out) is about as variegated as the number of plant species in the world over- far too many ways and means and methods for any type of rubber stamp approach. Let’s face it, whether you’ve been married 2 months or 4 decades, it remains a bit of a mystery how 2 individuals unite as one unit and (mostly) cohesively live life together.

Now add into the mix two driven, high strung, high energy, “perfectionistas” and crap- it gets kinda messy at moments.

Some days I find it nothing short of a miracle that we’ve made it this far intact (and IT IS a miracle of God’s grace and mercy).

Picture this- a nice intense crackling fire. Close by sits a red can full of gasoline, almost near enough to combust at any moment. That’s us- fire and gasoline.

“You cannot settle something without fighting about it.” That is what I said when we were first married. I’m fairly certain he thought, “Oh no, what have I gotten myself into?!”

And so, for the first portion of our marriage we did a fair share of that. Equally head strong and heart strong with a splash of misconstrued marital bliss and a dash of young naivety.

Then somewhere half way in, I changed God changed me in some pretty huge ways. It was slow and excruciatingly painful. Yet it morphed all of me, including the wife part.

So there I was, far from where we had begun, in new uncharted territory, getting a kind of “relationship do-over”. It felt exhilarating and frightening all at once.

Without any pretense or know-it-all-ness, I can tell you it is possible to live within combustion range. What is equally crucial are both separate time and together time; time to pursue things we love and time to pursue our love.

To differ vehemently also takes the bigness to embrace the differences; “fight” hard and fight to preserve the treasure you’ve been given. Prize clear, honest communication above all else.

I got married for life. When I signed my name on that certificate, I really signed my name before God to do everything I (rather mechanically) said in those vows.

And I’ve learned that as complex and challenging as it is to live near combustion, fire and gasoline are equally beneficial to each other. Uniting one substance to the other creates a better, hotter, sustainable fire.

That’s us- better together, even with an occasional need for caution tape.

*This title was inspired by the Sia song, “Fire Meet Gasoline”.

Dear Me

My heart’s been aching for my teenagers recently because frankly, it’s a crazy place out there and when you are 15 and 17, it can be straight up crazy on the inside too.

Inspired by the question, “What would you say to your 16 year-old self?”, I wrote this letter. After all, it is with the same blue eyes (albeit with wrinkles and bags around them), that now look with concern on my own dear children who are right smack dab in the middle of this thing…But it wasn’t so very long ago that I was there too.

 

Dear 16 year-old Rebekah Jane ~

First, I am just gonna say that if you think this letter might be a good old-fashioned dose of whoop up, you are right. Get ready because I am going to give it to you straight.

OK, like, what are you thinking? (Oh wait, that’s right- somewhere around the age of 13-14, aliens from the planet DUH come abduct the logic part of your brain and they are holding it hostage until around the age of 18.) So, since you are not thinking much, I’ll help you out with that.

YOU ARE DROP DEAD BEAUTIFUL. YEAH, YOU- the one with long blond hair and sky blue eyes. Why the heck are you starving yourself? Today all you ate was a McDonalds salad (without dressing) and a piece of toast. Then you went and cheered for an hour and half long football game, didn’t you? No wonder you feel like you might die. My guess is you weighed yourself this morning and the scale said 111lbs. instead of 110, isn’t it? Do me a favor. Go home. Grab your scale and throw it away. Then pick up a fork and eat your favorite dessert. Now take that same fork and poke it into next person who insinuates that either they or you are FAT.  Oh, and make sure you go poke your brother with it since he helped start this insanity by calling you “the Good Year Blimp” when you were 12.

STOP TRYING TO ACT THE PART OF A DUMB BLOND! You know those boys who tease you day after day with the blond jokes? I know you don’t want to hear, much less believe this, but they are seriously crushing on you and besides that, they are enamored by your smarts and wish they had straight A’s too. (Sadly, they are just too lazy to work for them.) Stop trying to hide that you are a bit of a book nerd and really actually enjoy school. Aim high and start planning for college now. Just because no one in your family went beyond 12th grade, doesn’t mean you can’t.

Buckle up, girl. This one might hurt.

STOP DATING THAT JERK YOU ARE WITH- THE GUY WHO BELITTLES YOU AND MAKES YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE BENEATH HIM. (Yes, the one with the unibrow.) Next time he tries pushing himself on you and then comes crawling back with a lame excuse of why he just can’t help himself, remember these are: lies. All lies. (I will refrain from calling him what I would like to right now, but maybe you could just slap him for me, huh?!) AND I know you want to be like “everyone” around you and have a BF (so as they say now, you won’t be “forever alone”), but first you have to know WHO YOU ARE and be CONFIDENT in that.  Only then, can you have the common sense to know a snake in the grass when you see one. There are true gems out there. Just wait, you’ll discover one soon enough. I promise ;).

Lastly, STOP BACKING DOWN FROM YOUR CONVICTIONS. Trust me when I say that all the kids out there partying it up are likely to walk a difficult path and some of them may not even make it out alive. Getting high and drinking may seem wildly fun for a season, but it leaves ugly scars and bears consequences- sometimes in the form of addictions. STAND UP FOR WHAT’S TRUE AND RIGHT. Someone awesome once said, “If you don’t stand for something; you’ll fall for anything.” It takes more moxie than you think you have, but trust me when I say, if you learn this principle now, it will save you from much future heartache. (I’m sorry but that totally sounded like a fortune cookie paper.)

Well, I know you probably won’t FOLLOW all this great, wise life advice because I know how stubborn and hard-headed you can be- uh-hum. But try, pretty please, for me?!

Oh and one last thing. Your mom, I know she annoys you- laughs too loud, wears her “I LOVE Jesus” pin everywhere and wouldn’t let you go to the Depeche Mode concert last year. Love her. Hug her. Listen to her. Soak up every moment with her and let the little things roll off your back. You only have 8 more short years with her.

Bunches of love from this wise old sage,

Your 39 year-old self

PS. Ditch the MC Hammer pants and paisley vest. You will thank me later!

PSS. Learn to enjoy life more fully. The drama you deal with now, is nothing compared with stuff of adulthood!

 

16 year old Rebekah Jane
16 year old Rebekah Jane