Don't Abandon Me When I'm Unfaithful
A reality. A fiction. A commentary.
Beloved: Please stay.
Please don’t walk out the door. Please listen to me. Please hear me.
Lover: I know I lashed out. I'm sorry about the broken glass, the cracked wall, the broken you. I didn't mean to bull through our "talk." I'm just so angry.
I'm just so hurt.
Lover: I am speaking to you from that hurt you flung at me in year two of our marriage.
I’m sorry for my anger, my impatience, my harsh words, my shameful thoughts, my bitterness and my silence. It's just that I bottled it up for a time such as this. So I can use it against you. And I don't know when I started to think like that.
But I am also speaking to you from that joy we drank in on the airplane, our first kiss. So public and long. I know you were embarrassed. But I couldn't resist. You were so ...
I am speaking to you from the pain, the love. And I want you to stay.
But marriage; I just don't get it sometimes. I don't know how to "die to myself." I don't even know what that means.
The preacher just spouts it out like blood and death should come naturally to me in a modern world. How do I bleed for you?
Beloved: I want you to listen.
I want you to hear.
Don’t walk away. Don’t stack up those stones. Stop building that wall so I can’t get in. That's why I lash out. That's why I close myself in. That's why I don't talk when you want me to. That's why.
Beloved: What is this vulnerability good for? Am I “authentic" to hear myself roar? It means nothing if I can’t come to you. Hold you. Whisper to you.
I don't want public realness. I'm not going to post my hurt just because I can. I want private intimacy. I want to experience desires met in real time and in real communion for one another. Me to you. You to me.
This is how we go forth. Not in admitting to the world. But by confessing to each other. I know that now. So, I'm turning off the feed, the social, the silly Netflix, the disruptions, the interruptions, the fantasy-replacing-reality of our life together.
And I want you to stay.
I am not trying to be courageous. I am trying to save our love. I am not the brave one. I am trying to do the right thing.
Is that what it is to be righteous? The preacher said it's fulfilling our obligations. I suppose I obligated myself to you.
But the work, the hard truth of it. Where do I find the strength?
Beloved: You left the other night. You drove off after we fought. And I wanted to break something.
You said you were sick of my words, my lack of words, my laziness. I couldn't win. I wanted you to go.
But I wanted you to stay.
Lover: I left you the other night. Oh, I didn't leave the house. I opened my laptop.
Oh, I didn't look at porn. I lined up all my other idols. Things I want to buy. Shows I want to binge. Then I went into my cave.
Isolation pleases me but only when it contains my favorite things.
I've been leaving you for years. I just never knew it. I've been an idol worshipper longer than I realized.
Lover: No one told me how intimacy demands so many words. I'm Moses, stammering over my thoughts about you. I don't always know how to plead, to confess, to praise.
You reveal my ramshackle relationship to you. And so I see that I must work. Not the digging kind, with my hands and shovel. But the soul kind; with tools not made from wood or steel.
This is how we work it out. In fear, and trembling. This is how I hope:
“Hope is a passion for the possible.”
You and I? I understand now that we are more than possible.
We are one. We know each other. We exist in this God-made institution; designed for us; a holy picture; intimacy defined.
Please don't go. I can work.
Beloved: I thirst for permanence.
I'm tired of vulnerability for the sake of vulnerability. I want vulnerability for the sake of confession and restoration. I do not share my shortcomings and sin with friends so that they can see how authentic I am. I do it to move on from it.
Vulnerability. Confession. These cleanse me and move me towards God. But when I leverage them to show the world how “courageous” I am, I make a mockery of righteousness.
I will stay with you. In this quiet and dark room. I will wrestle with you in words and in prayers. I will wait. And I hope you will wait for me.
Lover: I fail you only when I fail God. I see that now. It's taken so long. Man, all that guilt from the world and from me.
Me, heaping it up on myself. But when I’m unfaithful to him, he remains faithful to me. And so are you. And I can't ... I'm thankful for your faithfulness. Faith, I see now, isn't something you have, but an act of endurance that speaks love.
I am hear, my love. Over here, in the dark. Wrestling for you. For I want my words to wrestle no more. I want to grow up from the angry impatient me. I want to grow in this love, in this faithfulness that we share.
“I will never leave you…”— not for any reason; not my sin, selfishness, stubbornness, nor waywardness. (Hebrews 13:5; My Utmost For His Highest)
Relationships are tough. And beautiful. Brutal and mysterious.
We act out of our baggage at times. And other times, we seize the gift of grace, understand it, and give it away.
In all of our wrestling together let us not forget the act of faithfulness. In a lot of ways, faithfulness is like perseverance. It requires a never quit will of the heart. It requires singular focus. It requires a right understanding of ourselves, our own shortcomings, and the grace we've been given.
It's one thing to say, "I'll never leave you," quite another to not leave. Our relationships are worth the fight.