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Don’t complain, participate

This past week I traveled to Spokane, WA, to testify at a public hearing on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Millennium Bulk Terminals, a proposed coal export facility to be located along the Columbia River. I testified because I believe strongly that increasing coal train traffic through Montana and Washington to support a dying industry unnecessarily puts people at risk who live in areas cut off from emergency response vehicles when trains pass by–not to mention the environmental impacts of increasing fossil fuel consumption.

Hundreds of people showed up at the hearing to state their views. To the left of the hearing committee sat proponents in a sea of light-blue, sporting t-shirts with the slogan “BUILDING IT RIGHT: WASHINGTON JOBS.” I sat in the middle of the auditorium amidst a swath of red, among the opponents. Those in blue shirts advocated for the 135 new full-time jobs that would be associated with the port as well as the coal mining jobs that would be preserved in the Powder River Basin that spans the Montana-Wyoming border. Those in red shirts stood up to cite the traffic delays, rise in greenhouse gas emissions, and health hazards posed by coal dust blowing off of the uncovered trains as they rumble from coal mines to coast through countless towns and cities. One opponent held up a jar of coal dust she had gathered from areas of her town that lie along the rail lines (coal cars travel uncovered) while another pleaded for the panel to deny the permit on behalf of her asthmatic son, who suffers from the coal dust.

While those of us on either side of the aisle held differing opinions on the proposed project, we had one important characteristic in common: we cared enough to stand up and speak. We took the time to analyze and opine on an issue of concern to ourselves and our families, engaging in an important public process.

One of the major criticisms I maintain about our political institutions does not have to do with flawed processes or officials but with ordinary people. Most folks seem to have forgotten that we are part of the establishment in this country–we have an important part to play, but we rarely play it.  We allow ourselves to believe that our voice doesn’t matter, that it won’t be heard, but that simply isn’t true. One by one, each of the proposed coal export facilities in Washington have been denied permits thanks to all of the ordinary people who have come out by the hundreds to testify against them. Government and big business have not prevailed in this case, and they do not have to prevail in others–but it’s up to people to speak up and act on behalf of our beliefs. Griping at politicians on TV doesn’t count. We need to inform ourselves about decisions being made at the local and national levels and tell our representatives what we think about those decisions so that they can act accordingly–and they will act accordingly if they know what their constituents care about.

The problem is not with our system, it’s with our lack of engagement with our system–it’s with our “I can’t make a difference so why bother trying” attitude. That attitude is defeating our spirits and killing our country, which could very well be the vibrant democracy it was intended to be if more people stood up, took notice, and took action. It’s time we get off our laurels (and our entertainment devices) and decide to do something about the issues we care about.

We can’t wait for the next president to make change because it’s not up to him or her to do so–it’s up to us. Participating in a democracy requires more than voting at election time. It requires continued, consistent engagement with the decision-making processes that are constantly ongoing in our communities. If we simply leave that work up to our elected officials, then we can’t complain when other voices win out over our own. Special interest groups remain in constant contact with legislators, so when we don’t remain in touch, we shouldn’t be surprised when their voices win out over ours.

Instead of scrolling through your Facebook feed in your down time, browse the webpages of your elected officials; read the newspaper; listen to public radio; check out your local government websites. Find out what issues are up for vote and let your representatives know what you think about those issues. Make phone calls. Write letters. Attend hearings. Join organizations that will keep you abreast of decisions that matter to you. Be a part of the process, don’t just watch it from the sidelines and then wonder why it’s going awry.

And, lastly, respect those whose opinions differ from your own. We must do better at engaging in dialogue rather than deadlock if we hope to move our country forward. If we genuinely listen to one another with an ear for understanding and not just an ear for arguing, we can come to mutually agreeable solutions to many of our problems. We can learn from one another. Assuming the other side is ignorant is snobbish; even if others are ignoring obvious facts, it is not out of stupidity that they do so but out of genuine fear for what change will mean for them and their families. If we fail to understand that fear and come up with ways to ameliorate it, we will continue down the divisive path that is already damaging our democracy.

 

Single parenting is (NOT) a piece of cake

A while back, a friend of mine made a comment about “actually working a full-time job” and therefore not having time to cook all his food from scratch as I do. Even though I know the comment was unintentional, it stung because it reflects a pervasive and damaging assumption in our society that women who choose to “just” be moms must have it pretty easy.

I can’t speak for other moms, but I can assure you that parenting is the hardest endeavor that I have ever undertaken in my lifetime. Working a full-time job while completing a master’s degree, which I did before I had my two girls, was a walk in the park by comparison (and, just for the record, I managed to prepare all my food from scratch then, too). I may have had to put in an eight-hour workday and then come home to more reading and writing when I was in grad school, but at least when I shut the lights out at bedtime I knew I could sleep through the night.

Now God only knows whether a child—or two—will wake me at some point during my slumber, or will crawl in bed with me an hour earlier than expected, cutting off crucial sleep I had anticipated accruing. And I can definitely forget going to bed on time, especially when I have to spend an hour or more camped in the hallway each night ensuring that my three-year-old doesn’t keep jumping out of bed after I lay her down to sleep. Losing one of the two hours I give myself between their bedtime and mine means either not getting enough sleep or not getting done the backlog of chores that have accrued throughout my day of feeding children, changing clothes and diapers, emptying training potties, cleaning up spills, doing laundry, playing games, refereeing spats, … you get the impression.

Oh, and those meals from scratch? Dinners that used to take me an hour to prepare now easily take two or three due to the constant interruptions that occur when rearing two toddlers—and that’s if I don’t accidentally burn something while attending to the girls and need to start over.

But I’m not writing this post to garner sympathy for myself; rather I’m writing in an attempt to engender empathy for other parents who have it much harder than I do. Sure, I’m now a single mom working a part-time job while raising two little girls, but at least I have an ex-spouse who is responsible enough to help with child support and to take the children several days each week. To imagine the stress that single parents without any financial assistance and without periodic breaks from parenting must be under makes my heart ache.

What would I do if I had to sit at Libby’s door every single night until close to 9pm, never having another parent to trade her off to on occasion? What would I do if I never had a night to catch up on much-needed sleep without having to worry about a child awakening me?

And, most crucially, what would I do if I didn’t have any financial assistance during this transitional time between being a stay-at-home mom and getting back into the work force? I’ve run the numbers and it would be financially impossible for me to support the three of us on the full-time wage I earned as a math aid in the Billings public schools prior to Libby’s birth. Just paying for daycare would eat up more than half of my wages; forget paying the rent on my two-bedroom apartment or putting gas in my car, or making those meals from scratch—I’d be scrounging around for scraps! I would have no choice but to accept some sort of public assistance: SNAP benefits, housing vouchers … welfare? I have heard and read that many single mothers find it more economical to live off welfare while their children are below school age than to work a full-time low-wage job, and I believe it. I have a masters degree and I still wouldn’t be able to make ends meet.

The next time you feel inclined to scoff at a parent on public assistance, or at a parent losing his or her cool over something seemingly insignificant that their child has done, think twice before judging. That parent may well be suffering the unimaginable stress of raising a child alone, with no support from another parent and little support from society. Your judgment is likely unnecessary anyway, for the parent is probably one provocation away from shedding tears that will surely flow once they are alone at night, feeling overburdened and guilty from all the times during the day when they lost their temper at their children despite trying with every ounce of their energy to hold it in. Being a parent is hard enough; being a parent alone is doubly difficult, especially when one feels the added weight of society’s stigmas.

Not of this world

A disquieting realization has settled upon me over the course of the past several weeks as I’ve spent time processing my marriage, divorce, and new life alone. It is the realization that the more I get back to feeling like my old self again, the less connected I feel to most of the people around me.

It’s odd to think that I could feel more connected to society when I was in a relationship that wasn’t right for me—but I had this sense of camaraderie with others as I went through the motions of marriage and motherhood. I had a house with a white picket fence (almost literally—it was a white post-and-beam fence), two kids, two cars, a horse and a dog; the standard American Dream. I had ordinary, everyday concerns to chat about with people.

But I wasn’t me; I was dying inside, losing touch with a part of myself that I’ve never fully understood but that is nonetheless integral to who I am. As I reclaim that part of myself, I feel more whole—but I also feel more disconnected.

It’s hard to put all of this into words. For as long as I can remember, I’ve walked through life feeling like a participant-observer, taking part in many of the day-to-day rituals of American life but feeling ill at ease with a majority of them and, consequently, engaging in a constant silent critique of the culture around me.

I remember attending parties in high school and college, watching friends imbibe and let loose and wanting no part of it. I’ve sat in on countless lighthearted conversations with my own heart feeling heavy, never able to escape my own thoughts of the overwhelming work there is to do in this world to save it from going to hell in a hand basket.

At some point about six years ago, I got lonely enough that I decided maybe I did need to loosen up; maybe I needed to realize that I can’t save the world, never will, and that I might as well enjoy life while I’m living it. So I did that and I met a man who I thought I enjoyed doing that with, a man who I eventually married and who I had two beautiful little girls with, only to realize that I didn’t enjoy letting loose. I didn’t enjoy letting go of my “uptightness,” as some have called it; I didn’t enjoy believing that it was okay to just focus on my own little life because I wasn’t going to be able to save the rest of the world anyway.

The truth is, I enjoy being serious. I enjoy being analytical and critical and quiet. I do enjoy laughter and music and spending time with friends as well, but the problem I’m beginning to reencounter is that to talk about what’s truly on my mind at any given point in time seems to suck the life out of other people’s enjoyment. My thoughts and critiques aren’t always welcome even among like-minded people because even like-minded people, unlike me, want to let loose sometimes and forget those heavy thoughts I seem to thrive on.

The pastor at my church brought up an apropos Bible verse this morning during his sermon: “Dear friends, you are like foreigners and strangers in this world. I beg you to avoid the evil things your bodies want to do that fight against your soul” (1 Peter 2:11). I do feel like a foreigner in this world; but truth be told, I don’t mind. It gets lonely sometimes, but if I’ve learned one thing from the past six years, it’s that being a little bit lonely is far better than being someone I’m not.

My struggle moving forward will be to remain true to the person God created me to be and to not again fall into the trap of allowing myself to be someone I’m not just to have a relationship. If my only fulfilling relationship is with God for now and for the years to come, so be it. He blessed/burdened me (it feels like both) with my serious, contemplative nature for some reason; I simply have to trust that it’s a good one and that my life will be more fulfilling if I follow my nature no matter the cultural conflict it seems to entail.

On divorce

Not too long ago I wrote a post on marriage. I wrote that particular post, in part, to keep myself from making any decisions I’d regret—to serve as a reminder of my values so that I didn’t compromise them in moments of weakness.

Several months later, I’ve come to some important realizations that have changed everything. Beau and I will, after all, be getting a divorce. I’m making my feelings public both because I know people will be curious to know the reasons why and because I’d like to offer my friends and family an explanation.

When I wrote my post on marriage, I was under the influence. Not of alcohol or drugs, but of voices other than my own. In my search to do the right thing, I got hung up on other peoples’ opinions and advice and on a literal interpretation of the Bible; I forgot to tune into my own intuition. I talked to a lot of people who know Beau in an attempt to better understand him but I failed to talk to people who know me and could remind me of the person God created me to be. In the process, I succeeded in making Beau happy enough to stay married, but I lost myself.

I knew it was happening but I forged ahead anyway, thinking that saving the marriage and trying to love unconditionally as God loves us was more important than being me. But recently I had an enlightening conversation with a pastor of the church I attended throughout high school and college, a place where I made a family of friends that helped me to be the best version of myself that I could be, who encouraged me, questioned me, motivated me, and validated me. And it dawned on me as I spoke to him that a marriage should mimic the relationship I had with the State College Presbyterian Church: it should light my fire and make me come alive in Christ, challenging me when necessary and urging me ever forward in my walk of faith.

My marriage with Beau doesn’t do that for me, and it doesn’t do it for him either. We snuff out each other’s lights as we struggle to make a life between two polar opposites work (and we are literal opposites: our Meyers-Briggs personality types are INTJ and ESFP, with not a single dominant trait in common). Knowing this, I inquired of my pastor what, in his reading of the scriptures, he thought God would want: to save the marriage at all costs or to save ourselves? He responded in this way: God gave each of us unique gifts and capabilities that we are intended to tap into and use for His service. To suffocate those gifts for the sake of a relationship—any relationship—would be a disservice to the Creator.

Sometimes we make mistakes and for that reason, God has granted us grace. Neither Beau nor I want to feel like failures, so we’ve held on to our marriage through three and a half years of pain, pain that I now recognize not as resulting from a resistance to love unconditionally, as I suggested in my previous post, but from an incapacity to love one another as God intended a man and a woman to love—for it is impossible to love another person fully when we are not fully ourselves. We made a mistake getting married, and I believe God will forgive us for that. To squelch two individuals for the sake of one marriage would be another mistake, one that we aren’t going to make.

Beau and I both have gifts from God—unique and very different gifts that neither of us is skilled at supporting and encouraging in another person. I can’t keep up with Beau’s desire to be here, there, and everywhere all at once, aiding anyone who asks for help at the drop of a hat. It is a gift—Beau’s gift—to be able to say yes to whomever asks for his service at whatever time of day or night without feeling off kilter. And Beau can’t match my analytical mind and my desire to have my knowledge, wisdom, and understanding be constantly challenged so that it may be ever growing. Whenever I’ve tried to help him thrive by allowing him to say yes to everyone, then one of two things happens: I am not able to use my own gifts of writing and contemplation because I’m never still enough as I follow him around; or I’m lonely because I stay at home to nourish my gifts but have no companion to share them with. When we do our own thing we become disconnected from one another; and when we try to do what we need to do in order to be a part of the other’s pursuits, we become disconnected from ourselves.

So have my values changed? Not really. I still believe that if you’ve found someone who can help you to be the best version of yourself, then that person is worth making your number one priority in life and is worth working through the muck of marriage with. The mistake I made in my previous post was to suggest that spouses should be selfless in a marriage, which is what I was trying to be with Beau—and as the word implies, I lost myself. I don’t believe God wants us to be selfless because He granted each of us a sense of self and a sense of purpose for a reason. It is our duty to discover our purpose and His reason so that we may put our gifts to work in His service; even more so, I believe, than it is our duty to stay in a relationship just because we uttered the words “until death do us part.”

Libby’s legs

In my last post, I made the claim that what we eat can impact everything from our immune systems to our physical energy to our mental stability. I mentioned that I healed my daughter’s eczema and asthma through diet rather than through topical steroids and inhalers, both of which had been prescribed to her by pediatricians.

For all of the parents out there who have little ones with afflictions such as these, I believe Libby’s story of healing is worth sharing. It speaks to the oft-ignored link between what we eat and how we look and feel—not to just how much we weigh. For children, this link is especially important because their bodies are still developing such that the decisions we make on their behalf now will impact them for the rest of their lives.

Before Libby was born, I was very fortunate to befriend a woman who has eleven adopted children, many of whom suffered from persistent ailments that prescriptions would only hide temporarily. Stomachaches, rashes, attention and anger problems—you name it, one of her kids suffered from it. Frustrated by modern medicine’s inability to heal her children, she turned to food and followed the GAPS protocol with her entire family (you can read about it at http://gapsdiet.com/). Within weeks of starting the protocol, her children’s various symptoms began to subside and now, two years later, the entire family is thriving.

My own daughter Libby had experienced mild bouts of eczema since she was born, with little red rashes appearing and disappearing on the backs of her knees over the course of her first two years. The bouts never lasted long until the spring of 2015, when a sweltering heat wave triggered a nasty case that covered not just the backs of her knees but also the backs of her legs from mid-thigh to mid-calf. Non-steroidal creams wouldn’t clear it up as they had in the past so I took Libby to a pediatrician for advice. The doctor’s suggestion was to try a name-brand cream and then to try an over-the-counter steroidal cream if one of the non-steroidal creams she recommended didn’t help. Knowing of my friend’s experience with her children, I asked if a change in diet might make a difference but the pediatrician said that food was rarely an issue with eczema except in serious cases (I guess she didn’t think Libby’s case was serious).

None of the non-steroidal creams she recommended worked. Not wanting to use steroids on Libby’s delicate skin, I took her to a naturopathic doctor for alternative advice. The naturopath immediately concurred that food was likely an issue, so she ordered a food sensitivity test that examined antigens in Libby’s blood to determine whether certain foods may have been causing an autoimmune reaction in her body, resulting in the eczema. Sure enough, a handful of foods that she ate commonly (including eggs, dairy, coconut, and beans) registered on the test. After eliminating these foods from her diet for a month and applying a bit of Neosporin to the last remaining spot of eczema on her left leg (which had become infected from scratching), her eczema cleared up completely.

Just one month of eliminating certain foods from her diet healed her eczema, whereas nearly three months of trying various creams did not. While the steroidal cream may have cleared up the eczema (we’ll never know since we never tried it), her rash surely would have returned given that all of the foods she was sensitive to would have still been in her diet had I followed the first pediatrician’s advice. Had I not turned to her diet to heal her at the naturopath’s recommendation (and upon my own hunch), we would have been dealing with bouts of eczema indefinitely.

For those of you who are thinking to yourselves, “OMG, what would I feed my kid if s/he couldn’t eat such staples?” don’t worry—there are lots of alternatives. And the good news is that once a child is off of the foods to which they are sensitive for a period of time, giving their digestive and immune systems a chance to heal, those foods can be reintroduced and enjoyed once again. Libby is now eating butter and coconut products and we’ll be reintroducing cheese next week. Eggs are still out since her eczema came back when we reintroduced yolks a few weeks ago, but we will try again in another month or two after her system has a bit more time to heal itself.

In the beginning of this post I mentioned asthma as well as eczema. At the same time as Libby was experiencing her eczema flare-up, she began exhibiting signs of asthma, wheezing whenever she got a cold or cough and whenever she got rowdy with her cousins. Asthma, mind you, is also an autoimmune response. Once we eliminated the foods that were causing one autoimmune reaction (the eczema), her other autoimmune reaction (asthma) likewise disappeared. She hasn’t wheezed once since we started with the elimination diet, and she’s spent plenty of time getting rowdy with her cousins!

I urge anyone with children—indeed, anyone at all—to take seriously the connection between food and health. Modern medicine and the media would have you believe that the only thing food affects is our weight, but in reality it affects so much more. Anthelme Brillat-Savarin had it right when he coined the phrase “you are what you eat.” If you eat crap, that’s what you’ll feel like. If you eat well, you’ll nourish your body into performing at its absolute best.

Deciding what’s for dinner: Its more important than you may think

For millennia, the hunting, gathering, harvesting, and preparing of food has been the focus of everyday life for humankind. In many countries around the world, the selection, preparation, and consumption of food is still a defining aspect of culture. Why is it, then, that in many households in the United States, food is merely an afterthought, selected more for its convenience than for its benefits, nutritional or otherwise? Why have we become a nation known for its fast food and fatness?

I won’t attempt to answer the question above because it would require a treatise. Instead, I aim to argue that the thoughtful selection of food should regain its central role in the lives of anyone who claims to care about the environment, the landscape, the economy, personal and public health, and the future of our planet.

Yes, I think what we eat for dinner (and for breakfast, lunch, and everything else) is that important. So important that I consider purchasing food a political action more effectual than voting (although I do still vote).

Why is food so important? Because what we grow, how we grow it, and how we transport it (and how far we transport it) have far-reaching impacts. Consider the wisdom of agro-ecologist Nicole Masters, who points out that our soils, which have an unfathomable capacity to sequester carbon, are instead losing carbon to the atmosphere due to their terrible mismanagement by mainstream farmers. If we want to minimize global warming, she advises, we shouldn’t be buying Priuses—we should be buying food from local farmers and ranchers who maintain healthy soil practices.

Our food choices are also important because they matter to local families. Do we want our dollars leaving town and landing in the pockets of millionaires who run huge multinational agribusinesses, or do we want our dollars to stay nearby, to be reinvested in working landscapes in our own communities?

Some folks counter that local food is too expensive, and for those with extremely limited incomes that is indeed a legitimate concern. But for the rest of us, what we buy is simply a matter of priorities. In any case, I would argue that buying well-raised local (or at least regional) foods works out to be cheaper in the long run. Why? Because food grown in well managed soils and transported across lesser distances packs a greater nutritional punch than food grown (or raised, in the case of animals) conventionally via large-scale agriculture in far-off places. Healthier food makes for healthier bodies, which makes for fewer visits to the doctor, fewer work days missed due to illness, fewer medicines and supplements, and so on.

Doctors don’t tell us this, likely because it isn’t a focus of their coursework in medical school, but what we eat can impact everything from our immune systems to our physical energy to our mental stability. I cleared up my daughter’s eczema and asthma not through the use of topical steroids and antihistamines but through a carefully selected diet. I know mothers who have nipped ADHD and autism in the bud by changing their children’s diets. My own issues with dry skin cleared up once I altered my diet to include fewer carbohydrates and greater amounts of fat from grass-fed animals and high-quality oils (olive and coconut). The money I used to spend on creams and ointments now goes to deliciously nutritious food! Plus, I haven’t had to rely on an ounce of caffeine to keep me awake and alert during the first years of each of my daughter’s lives, when they both refused to sleep through the night until drastic cry-it-out tactics were employed.

What we eat matters in so many ways that deciding what’s for dinner shouldn’t be an afterthought. It should be at the forefront of our thoughts every day, as if our lives and our planet depended on it—because they do.

On marriage

As some of you may or may not know, my husband and I have struggled quite a bit in our marriage, to the point of almost divorcing several times. I believe I was the first to mention the word while my husband has been the one ready to actually follow through with it; but whenever it has come down to the point of deciding whether to go “to the big D” (it’s a country song) or not, one of us has always put our foot down and fought against it.

Beau and I could not be more different than night and day, which is why we stuck together for long enough to get to this point: despite continuing to date one another while at the same time thinking to ourselves that a relationship with the other could never last, it remained interesting enough that we never let it go. So here we are, trying to make two complete opposites become one in a process that has been quite painful.

What I’ve come to realize, however, is that the pain isn’t a result of the process of merging—it’s a result of the process of resisting. Even though we both like to think we’ve given up a lot in order to try to make our marriage work, the truth is that all along we’ve been resisting the need to release our expectations of the other and to simply love one another unconditionally as spouses should. We have conditions, and we don’t want to let them go.

Here again is an aspect of my life in which my Christian values have come to surprise me. I wasn’t raised in an especially religious family, but I find again and again that the lessons I learned in church and in Sunday school somehow embedded themselves deeply in my fiber. Where contemporary culture would condone divorce and encourage me to search for someone who is a better match, something within me continues to resist the temptation to let go and move on; and this something is my deeply held belief that love—real, true, unconditional love—really can conquer all.

I’m not talking about the love that conquers all of fairy tales, where the prince and princess (or cowboy and cowgirl) ride off into the sunset to live happily ever after. I’m talking about the love referred to in the Bible, the sort that is patient and kind, that does not envy, does not boast, is not proud, rude, self seeking or easily angered; the kind that keeps no record of wrongs, does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth; that always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres (1 Corinthians 13). The kind of love that I have tattooed on my back—literally; 1 Corinthians 13:13 is etched there in ink.

Neither Beau nor I have shown this kind of love to each other because we don’t fully understand this kind of love—none of us humans do. It is a perfect kind of love that we can only mimic imperfectly, BUT that we can always strive to mimic just a little bit better. I could throw in the towel and allow Beau and I to get a divorce, and none of my friends or family would fault me—but I would know in my heart that I hadn’t truly given it my all before allowing it all to end. I would know that there were too many days when I allowed resentment to replace acceptance, when I let my expectations push out patience; when I said something critical instead of something complimentary, focused on the negative instead of the positive.

Ultimately, it takes two people to make a marriage work—but in every individual instance when somebody is ready to give up, it just takes one person to hold the door open for long enough to let light back into the other person’s heart. How long is “long enough”? Well, according to the pastor of our church, God is patiently waiting for us humans to figure out our $@#! and repent of our sins before sending Christ to earth for His second coming—and that could take eons. So if I want to love like God, then I have to be willing to be patient with my husband indefinitely and not get a divorce just because things aren’t going my way.

If I believe, as I do, that the only true salvation for this world—whether or not there is even a heaven—is to live by the Golden Rule (to do unto others as we would have them do unto us), then I’d be a hypocrite not to apply that rule to my own marriage. It may be more appealing to apply politics to a situation (whether in war or in marriage, as the two sometimes seem one and the same!) to achieve an agreeable resolution to a problem rather than to live selflessly for the greater good, but in the end, politics only pushes problems under the proverbial rug and prolongs everyone’s suffering.

So I must love Beau as I love myself and do unto him as I would have him do unto me—for more than just a few days or weeks or even years—in order to be able to claim that I’ve truly done everything I can to try to make our marriage work. I must stop resisting the desire to have any selflessness on my part be immediately reciprocated by him; and stop resisting what we are all truly called to do in a marriage, which is to make our spouse our number one priority in life: every day, in every way. It’s a hard pill to swallow in our self-centered culture that exalts personal satisfaction, but when it comes down to it, I don’t believe that life is about the pursuit of personal happiness anyway. It’s about something far greater and grander: the pursuit of a collective happiness that will never be achieved if we can’t first achieve it in our own homes.

Note: My husband and I eventually did divorce. Read here for my reflection on why we did.