Friday, January 30, 2015

Joel. Michawn. {Part 7 - Exhaustion}

If you are new to this blog series and want to catch up, here are the links to see the first few posts: 

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

We'll continue the discussion from last time later...although there wasn't much of a 'discussion'...apparently people either don't have an opinion about that subject, or they wouldn't touch it with a 10 ft. pole.  Very interesting.  I posted that and...*crickets.*

But, today's blog post...

While I'm glad that Joel and I are back together...and while I'm grateful for all that we've learned, and are learning, through all of this...I would give up all of this "learnin'" in a heartbeat.  We're praying that it behooves us in the end...things like this usually do...and in mighty ways no less.  But, for now...it's been a tough, hard road.  Esp. for me.  Not to make light of any heartache that Joel has experienced, but when you are already down on the ground in the dirt, shaken, needing rest and relief and support (as I was when we arrived back in the United States), and then what comes next is not being helped but being hurt over and over, for literally years after that...it's pretty life-changing. 

Even since September 1st when we came back together, y'all...it's been just excruciating.  Of course there is the marriage to work out.  But, there has been MUCH opposition since Sept. 1st.  From family members.  From pastors.  From people who, because of our line of work, and because they have supported us in one way or another, think that they have an open door to speak whatever it is that they feel they need to speak to us...what they think we're doing wrong, how we're 'sinning,' etc.  That means that, since Sept., we've been unable to focus on us...because we've needed to stave off the accusers in all of our spare time. 

You've read Job, right?  Job was a righteous man.  Job was tested.  Job was down on the ground, in the dirt...literally.  He was shaken.  He was needing rest.  And relief.  And support.  And instead of help, for a very long time, his 'friends' came to him.  But, they came to question him, to accuse him, to say to him, "O.K., you must have sinned.  What did you do wrong?  What are you still doing wrong?" 

We have been on the receiving end of that since Sept.  I have been on the receiving end of that since 2012. 

I can tell you that I am just exhausted.  I can tell you that I'm just sooooo tired.  I literally feel like I've just been beaten to a pulp and left for dead.  I can tell you that, to experience stressors like that for so long...it can be very, very, very damaging...in every possible way, but including physically.  And it's true...my body is literally shutting down.

You do learn a lot when you go through a long crisis period though.  You learn what people are really like.  You learn who your true there-for-you friends are...you really do.  Not just the Facebook commenters, but the ones who really reach out to you and really love on you and really show care.  Which ones are still with you...and which ones are more the 'out of sight, out of mind' friends.  You learn, when you are constantly being accused in private, how very alone you can feel.  Completely and utterly and desolately alone. 

And you learn, when you can't depend on anyone else in the world, how much you can trust in and lean on God.

You learn how much you can fall in love with Him over and over again...and He can be trusted to never accuse you or blame you when you're down...to always love (the verb) you and to show it very sweetly and tenderly and kindly...to never abandon you or be an 'out of sight, out of mind' friend.  To always reach out to you, from the very first word you cry out, when you are on the ground.  He will always just meet you and take care of you...no matter what. 

To say that I've been feeling the accumulative effects of these past few years acutely recently is an understatement.  This past week we sent out two emails...and we pray that that is the last we will hear from any "Job's friends" in our lives.  We pray that we're able to move on without any other accusers coming our way.  And that we can finally start to focus on us and start to heal and move forward and get healthy and better. 

I heard a song recently.  It is mine and Jesus' new love song.  It's short and simple and I can't get enough of it.  It's perfect.

I wait in the rain but I don’t complain 'cause I wait for you
And I don’t feel pain, you’re like Novocaine, and I got you

It was always you
It was always you

Time and again I thought that the end was just around the bend
But you showed me there’s more, I got more in store, and you got me

It was always you
It was always you

It was always you
It was always you






Sunday, January 18, 2015

Joel. Michawn. {Part 6 - Egal, Comp, and Counsel}

So last time we talked about some of the specifics of how we were doing when we got back to the states the last day of May 2012, some of the things that were going on in our lives at that point, and how we reacted to/handled it all.  Joel had brought up, in his post, the fact that he was less-than-supportive (to put it mildly) and I went into the specifics of what that looked like and what that involved a little more in my last post. 

More of the specifics of things that happened over the course of the time from January 2012 until the present, January 2015 (3 years!) will be discussed further and documented here as we go along I'm sure.  But, as you can imagine, since Labor Day 2014…since Joel’s blinders were removed and he really was able to finally, for the first time, see the TRUTH of what had been going on…we’ve talked about it a good bit.  About how it all happened.  About how he got to the point where he thought, for instance, that it was ok to not listen to me and my cries for help when I needed a break from our whiplash pace and gypsy lifestyle, traveling here and there and participating in events and pack pack packing and go go going. 

He had never not listened to me before.  We had been the best team.  We had to be…otherwise we would’ve never been able to function in all the constant chaos-around-us and gypsy-ness which was our lives.  That requires really good communication…listening to each other and being aware of the needs that arose.  We were, again, a well-oiled machine. 

And then 2012 hit. 

How did it happen that I stopped being listened to?  How did it get to the point where my very real needs were not given any priority?  What belief system was in place that caused this to be more likely to happen as opposed to a different belief system?

That’s actually a very deep hole to go down.  I’m going to try to do this subject justice here.  The first point here revolves around a certain couple of events very specific to us...but many truths can be drawn from our experience that can pertain to anyone (preventing others from having a divisive effect on your marriage, for one thing).  But, my second point down below goes more into a theological discussion and how core beliefs and values, that you may not have even thought much about, can completely change your world and your life.  So, keep reading. 

Looking back, Joel is actually really baffled.  How on earth?  How did our relationship change?  How did HE change?  It IS baffling. 

But by digging deeper, we can see a couple of things that shaped this all into being basically a ‘perfect storm.’ 

1.  Joel had battled, unbeknownst to me, from January - July 2012, within himself and his desires about that other big event (which was mentioned in the last couple of blog posts) scheduled on the 2nd weekend of July vs. the Watermelon Festival that he had promised to me for years.  It was a difficult position to be in.  For all of us.  The other event was also a very important event, just like our finally getting to go to the festival as a family was, something that I had given up for Joel already two years prior, something that I had dreamed about for 30+ years…and this was literally our last shot to experience it with our children.  Joel, in 2010 (after I gave it up to do what was important to him), had promised the festival to me…”No matter what, the next time we're in the states in July, we will be there”…and then he re-promised in January 2012 after we found out the date of that other big event.  But again...that other event was very hard to miss.  So the point here is this:  the battle within him raged on.  As he said, he did some wrong things during those months…and tried to get out of his word to me.  He reached out to others.  And instead of encouraging unity and oneness with his spouse, they encouraged disunity…encouraged him continuously to try to get out of his word to me.  And that’s just wrong.  We all know that.  There were other extenuating circumstances involving this conflicting date that made it incredibly unfair for us to be expected to give up our plans for that date.  But, I won’t go into those. 

As you can see though, this was a point of contention.  I didn’t know anything about it honestly…that the contention was there.  The only thing I knew was that Joel had promised me a second time (all on his own accord…I had not asked for it) in January that we would be at the festival.  And I knew that it was a really sad thing for him (for ALL of us really, but esp. him) to give up that other big event.  I knew what that felt like, as I had done that two years prior, given up a very special big event.  And I definitely know what that feels like now…can’t even begin to count the things I’ve missed out on because of all of the mess of these past 3 years…weddings and special events and glorious memories and unfulfilled dreams, etc. etc.  But, I had no idea that he was talking to others about it.  That he was talking to and being encouraged by some of his 'mentors' to do whatever he could to back out of his word to me.  That he was so far down that path that he went behind my back and bought a plane ticket to the big event.  I had NO IDEA all of this was happening.  

So, we can see that for over 6 months already at that point (January - July 2012), disunity had been brewing.  And unfortunately, he had been receiving COUNSEL that promoted that disunity.  And eventually, because of this brewing and because of this counsel…it led into something that happened on a much, much deeper level.  And because of a certain set of beliefs, it all left Joel completely predisposed to the development of the wrong set of beliefs about our overall situation, and therefore his wrong attitudes and actions for the following 2 ½ years. 

2.  I don’t much like getting down deep into terms and categories, in general.  I hate to be put in a box.  I hate to put others in a box.  I’m much more of an ‘it’s this way, but let’s not label it’ kind of girl.  Much more of a go-with-the-flow, don’t-have-to-figure-it-out kind of girl.  An if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it type.  But guess what.  IT BROKE!!  Lol. 

So…we’ve been forced to look at it all.  To really dig deep.  What happened?!?  What about our lives and our beliefs and circumstances and backgrounds, on a deep-non-surface level, caused this? 

Have you ever heard the terms EGALITARIANISM and COMPLEMENTARIANISM?  Do you know what they mean?  What do each say about equality, for instance?

Egalitarianism says that all humans are equal.  Equal worth, equal value.  Not everyone has the same roles, obviously, but all are equal.

Complementarianism says that all humans are equal.  Equal worth, equal value.  Not everyone has the same roles, obviously, but all are equal.

The main ideas of each are basically the same on the surface level.  Let’s get into what each actually highlights.

Egalitarianism highlights that equality.  They hold to the belief that all people have equal responsibility to use their gifts and obey their calling to the glory of God; and all are called to roles and ministries without regard to class, gender, or race. 

Complementarianism highlights the belief that men and women are equal, but they complement each other.  They have complementary roles.  They have roles of equal importance, but not the same roles.  They hold to the belief that certain roles between men and women, manifested in marriage, church leadership, and elsewhere, are biblically required.  In other words, there are certain roles that a woman will never be allowed to have, no matter what her giftings and no matter what she feels God is calling her to.  The same applies to men, although it is, in general, a much less limiting belief system for men. 

I had heard these terms before.  But had never really looked into these belief systems.  I knew that I believed in the equality of all, as each of these belief systems hold to.  I knew that I had mostly been a part of complementarian churches.  They weren’t churches who silenced women (although I have attended a church like that…where the women are literally not allowed to speak...those do exist too).  So, on the surface, in many ways, those churches I have been a part of seem very much equal.  Which is partly why I went to those churches.  And because honestly, the complementarian view was fine with me because I personally didn’t have any giftings or strong callings that fell under the category of ‘you can’t live those out here because you are a female.’  So I was never faced with having to dig deep.  And I was never faced with being uncomfortable and limited and not being able to do what I was called to do under this belief system.  Therefore, I never really investigated.  But, let’s investigate a bit…

What does egalitarianism look like in real life?  It sees male and female as truly equal.  If a woman feels the call to be a pastor, guess what?  She can become a pastor.  If there is a decision to be made, the woman’s opinion and answers are given equal weight as the man’s.  It’s just…equal.  That's the way it plays out within the church, within marriage, etc.  If a husband and wife are having a hard time reaching an agreement about something...they don't move until they both agree on something.  Practically speaking, that might involve a yielding on both parts (we call that compromise), or the wife might yield to the husband, or the husband might yield to the wife.  But, they don't move unless a mutual agreement on what to do has been reached.  That’s what egalitarianism looks like. 

And I thought that was basically what complimentarianism looked like too…equal, esp. in marriage.  As far as being heard in general, I had never really run into or seen much trouble with that.  As far as roles in the church...I did know that in most of the churches I’d been involved in, women were not seen as ‘preachers’ or ‘pastors’…and if they are gifted in such a way as they would make great preachers, they are instead usually given the label ‘teachers’ so that they can, in fact, still use that gifting and others can benefit from that gifting.  Lol.  True statement.  Ha.  Or…in some of the more ‘modern’ complimentarian circles, if ‘permission is granted’ to take on a certain role that is outside the roles traditionally considered acceptable for women, then that is ok.  And, for a woman to be a children's or ladies' pastor (although many times it's called 'minister' instead…that label is usually more acceptable for women)...being a minister over other women or children is generally accepted…because that is an acceptable gender role.  But, usually if there is a lady who shows herself to be gifted in a certain role that is generally a man’s role…and if that lady is given that role despite the fact that she is female…one of the things that I’ve most heard about a situation like that is ‘well, if the men of the church would actually step up, there wouldn’t be a need for women in these roles.’  So, it’s always seen as basically a female being in these positions by default…not by any genuine giftings or callings to be in that role regardless of what the men are doing. 

So what does complementarianism look like outside of the church...in marriage for instance?  These are a few of the tenets that are taught, that Joel and I were taught, under that belief system: 
1) a husband and wife are to submit to each other
2) a wife is to submit to and respect her husband
3) a husband is to lay down his life for his wife, just as Christ laid down His life for the church

These are the first 3 main things that are taught.  Now, #2 + #3 to me =s #1.  So, basically what all 3 together are saying is, submit to and respect each other.  In fact, the call of a husband in #3 seems even a bit more serious than #2.  Wives, yield to your husbands, but husbands…you lay down your very lives, just like Christ.

When I was in my late teens/early 20s, I was very anti-submission.  Very!!  But, why?  Because #3 was basically never mentioned.  What was told to me over and over and basically just harped on?  How I was called to be submissive.  When I got in a church that actually taught #3, a lot, and lived it out, a husband who was showing me so much respect that he would lay down his very life for me…that?...I wanted to submit to and follow and could respect.  Because it was all just a very clear picture of MUTUAL SUBMISSION…a picture of #1.  Not just me yielding, but both of us yielding.  And Him laying his life down for me.  I was already in love with and following Jesus, partly for that very reason.  How natural and easy to be in love with and follow a man who was acting in that very way.

And I found just that in Joel.

But, here’s the #4 that is also taught in that belief system:
4) ultimately, the man is the boss.  and ultimately, the man has the final say. 

And there it is. 

Let’s look at this a bit.  Where does #4 come from?  It is drawn from two passages of scripture in particular…1 Corinthians 11 and Ephesians 5.  We’ll dig deeper into each of these as we go along probably.  These passages cover many things.  But, one of the phrases found in each of these scripture passages (in most English translations) states that the husband is head over the wife.  Therefore, that is translated as 'the husband is boss.'

And the little caveat that has been taught as gospel right along with this over and over, although not actually stated in the Bible anywhere, is what I put there in #4…because 'man is boss,' then the man always ultimately has the final say.  If there is a disagreement about something and a resolution just cannot be reached, it is the man who has the final say.  All the other verses about the husband practicing mutual submission and about the husband laying down his life as Christ did...it is taught that those all go out the window whenever he deems that course of action is needed.  Because he is the boss.  And he has the final say. 

Joel’s leadership was very servant-like.  That is what drew me to him in the first place, so many years ago. 

Joel was very much a husband who practiced mutual submission and laying his life down.  We never even had to employ #4 there…never even came close.  An agreement was always reached...sometimes by me letting go of what I thought best, sometimes by him letting go of what he thought best.  We were a team.  We were ONE.  We flowed like buttah, baby.  :) 

And then we didn’t. 

And that’s where the existence of #4 can get really scary. 

Joel had zero understanding about what was really going on.  He was completely blinded and deceived.  His beliefs about what was going on (that I had become 'crazy,’ that I was being completely irrational by needing what I needed even though anyone the world over would not see those needs as irrational after all we had gone through, that I was depressed, that I had a disorder of some kind, that I was just being manipulative and controlling…and the list goes on and on because it changed several times throughout the years)...those beliefs led him to believe that we were incapable of working together.  That I was incapable.  That I was wrong in what I was needing, feeling, believing.  And, so #4 gave him the right to just take over. 

Not only did #4 exist for him...all of his complementarian counsel that he was getting said that he was dealing with a non-submissive wife.  And that he had to do what he felt best, no matter what.  He had to take over, he had to make decisions…he was in charge.  I was now out of the picture, unless I stopped being so (what was considered to be…) ‘uppity’ and totally non-submissive. His counsel told him that he had every right to move on and do things like take jobs and make financial decisions without consulting me…because I, after all, was living in sin and refused to move out of that sin. 

This counsel, by the way, was given by people who live far away, were nowhere near us or the situation, and never once reached out to ask me my side of the story.  But they definitely knew #4, and were willing to urge Joel to put that into practice. 

More next time…about this subject, about gender and roles in general, about counsel, about the church.  We have lots to talk about.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Joel. Michawn. {Part 5 - Yokes}

First of all, I have a disclaimer at the bottom about all of this.  But, I wanted to also start this out by saying this:  Nothing I say in these blogs are said with any kind of motive other than pure motives.  They are threefold really...1) first and foremost, to tell our story and focus not on the specific actions (although some of those have to be told in order to get to the lessons learned), but on the root issues behind those actions, which might at some point even help others, 2) this is the way I process things best...and that is needed after these years...processing through all of this, starting the process of healing, and 3) I was silenced for a long time...and now I have things to say...which is also very healing and very liberating. 

Joel said that although this is not easy for him, because honestly, it's embarrassing and he hates that all of this happened in the first place...but, if it 1) helps me to process and get to a good place/helps me turn it around and use it for good, and/or 2) helps any others along the way, then he doesn't want to hide it away...he wants it to be used.  I agree.  Otherwise, what a waste of a really crappy few years in our lives.  No, what the enemy meant for harm, we will use for good.  I hope that you remember that motive behind the following words as you read through this post. 

Also, the next blog post (which I have already written) starts to get into some real meat of some of the things we're learning through all of this.  So, I promise it's coming.  But, all of that has to be prefaced by all of this.  Again, not just 'airing our dirty laundry' (as some people would call this) for no purpose.  It's all just the set-up for some deeper level discussion about some deeper level issues and beliefs.  Just hold on and trust the set-up process.  :)  Now...on with the post...

Joel wrote the last ‘Joel. Michawn.’ blog post (our 4th installment in this series).  Since he did, I can now keep going with our story.  In the 2nd post, called ‘Detours,’ I talked about some of the major ‘Level 10 Traumas’ that we’ve faced in the past few years.  In the 3rd post, called ‘What Happened to Us,’ I gave a little picture of what our unstable lives had been like…and how by the time spring 2012 rolled around, I NEEDED to retreat from battle…I NEEDED a break, to rest, to recover, to heal.  Because...

As I’ve written about, giving many specifics already (so I won’t do that again here), our last year in Brazil was very, very hard.  I want to make it very clear that it had nothing to do with Brazil specifically.  Or living in a foreign country.  And it had nothing to do with missions specifically.  Or our work there.  We just faced a lot of other kinds of difficulties and challenges and trials. 

So, when we got back to the United States, all I wanted to do was do what we had committed to do those first two weeks back (teach in two different VBSs), then set up the house we were set to live in, and then do NOTHING but everyday life (homeschool, soak in family, and get some MAJORLY NEEDED R&R at the lake…literally let the land that God had raised me in provide healing).  I cannot stress enough how badly that was needed.

And then our last day in Brazil came.  We were finishing up packing.  And the news came that we would not be able to live in that house here in Louisiana that our friends had hoped would be ready for us. 

It was a blow.  But, the 6 of us were all packed, our house was all packed up so that others could live there, the plane tickets were bought, so off we went…not knowing where we would go on the other side. 

Long story short, what we foresaw and hoped would be two weeks of busy when we first got to the states, and then being able to settle in and relax, actually turned into a complete tornado of life.  We spent the next 3 weeks trying to figure out where to live.  We started the process of buying a house-turned-flower-shop at the end of that first month that had to be completely remodeled.  We were buying the house from a really good friend of mine (I had actually been a bridesmaid in her wedding).  We started the process and I spent almost all week with her doing stuff at the house.  She had a lot of stuff at the house that she was going to sell.  I went through it all first since we needed some stuff to set up life here.  Then she had a garage sale that weekend.  She went home from the garage sale that Saturday evening, and she died, completely unexpectedly…from a very rare issue stemmed from a heart condition she didn’t even know she had.  She was 41.

To say it was a very stressful, very mournful time would be quite the understatement

And this is where it started getting really, really hard marriage-wise.  This is why Joel had to tell his story from his point of view, so that it would be him admitting to and telling his story before I told the story in a bit more detail. 

Joel talked about in his blog post an event that he had promised me I would not have to miss again.  Since I was a little girl, I’ve always loved the Christmas season…but it’s Watermelon Festival week that has always been my most favorite time of the year.  It’s a festival my small town has every 2nd weekend in July.  The whole town comes together every evening during that week for activities…and the week ends with the big festival that Saturday.  It’s like a big town reunion really.  And everybody who lives here just LOVES it and so looks forward to it every year.  I’ve shared it with many people over the years…bringing back people from college, co-workers from the hospital where I worked after college, other friends throughout the years.  Many people close to me have been able to experience the Watermelon Festival with me. 

Except my own family.  I had grown up dreaming about the time I would have my own husband and children to share this with.  And as of 2012, that dream had still not been realized.  In 2010, we were finally here in the states in July and the kids were the perfect ages to really get it and enjoy the activities and participate.  But, Joel asked me to give it up so that we could head out and do something that was important to him.  He promised me that it would never happen again.  And that the next time we were in the states during the summer, we would make the Watermelon Festival happen.  I hesitantly, and very sadly, agreed.  We pulled out of town as they were literally beginning the first night’s activities that year. 

Then came 2012.  There was another big event that was special to Joel (special to all of us) that, again, fell on the same date as the Watermelon Festival.  Even though it had been relayed ahead of time that we wouldn’t be able to make it to that special event if it was set for that date because it had already been set in stone that we would be making it to the Watermelon Festival that year (because for us specifically in our lives, the festival might be held annually, but we were never here annually; and if we didn’t make it to the festival that year, my dream of experiencing it with my children as actual children would be gone)…we let that be known, but that big event was still scheduled on the Watermelon Festival date. 

We had known about that decision since January 2012, but it developed into an incredibly tense and hard issue.  Add on to that the tornado we’d been thrown into concerning housing.  And then, we lose Melinda. 

We lost her on the Saturday night before Watermelon Festival week.  We buried her that Wednesday.  At some point in the days between her death and her burial, Joel told me that he had bought an airline ticket to the conflicting big event (done totally and completely behind my back), and that he’d be breaking his word to me, and leaving early Friday morning. 

So, when he says things like, "I still continue to try to grasp the horribleness and devastation I brought about to my marriage and family by my mindset and actions these last years,” as he did in his blog post, it’s a very true statement.  Because as he also said, we had functioned "like a well-oiled machine" for basically our first 11 years.  These actions that were starting to show up at the beginning of 2012 that were, quite honestly, devastating to our family, were coming from a man that I didn’t even recognize. 

And those kinds of actions continued constantly from then on out. 

In the end, after a completely sleepless Thursday night of wrestling (with me, and with himself), Joel didn’t go.  But it was very definitely one of the first signs of a major breakdown in our relationship. 

We look back on that time and wonder, what happened?  That whole first year back in the states I kept thinking, ‘He’s going to snap out of this.  This is not the man I married.  We’ve always been friends, we’ve always worked so well together, we’ve always been a team.’  So, I really just kept thinking it would be over soon…something would click with him eventually. 

At first, I thought that it would happen when we finally got moved into the house.  We worked non-stop on it, 12-13 hr. days.  We started the week after Watermelon Festival, mid-July.  And we moved in the first week of October.  Even though he had asked me if we could all drive to New England and back for a trip during early August.  And even though he had asked me if we could go to a training in SW Texas in mid-August.  And even though he asked if he could go on a week-long mission trip to Costa Rica in September (which he actually did do).  All of these requests being made during the craziness of trying to get into a house of our own so that we could actually unpack our suitcases for the first time since May…even then I thought that surely he was just stressed and that was how he handled it.  He would relax and let me relax and recover once we got in our house.

But, that never happened.  The requests to travel and go about a 'normal' furlough never ceased.  And he immediately got busy with the business of a normal furlough schedule…visiting churches, going to trainings and conferences, etc.  And dragging us along.

So, the whole first year, like I said, I had truly thought that maybe it would click for him eventually.  My need for rest and relaxation and a healing time was not going anywhere until that need was met. 

But, by the end of that first year, it became very clear that not only was it not clicking, and not only was I not going to get my healing time anytime soon…it was just getting worse and worse and worse by the day.  Because instead of getting that break and healing time, I was being continuously pressured to just keep moving along.

The Bible says that we are not to be unequally yoked.  That means that it is wise to be equally paired up in your marriages.  Not equal as in the same (because no two people are the same, obviously), but equally paired.  Look at this picture…












If these two oxen were unequally paired, and therefore unequally yoked, then there would be some major problems.  They would not be functional at all.  They would not be able to function as a team.  They would not be able to do the task they are needed to do. 

Being equally yoked means that you are both moving in the same direction in life…you have unified goals and visions. 

And that’s the way we were.  For the first 11 years.  We were equally yoked, with the same goals and visions, with the same pace even. With the same rhythm, the same strength, the same flow.

But then this ole ox got pretty beat up by that pace and by the things that just continued to come our way.  That pace and the particular trials we went through and the demands of our lifestyle happened to usually affect me more and demand more out of me (this particular ox in the yoke) to be honest.  Who was it that always did all the packing, for five people, for every single trip we made?  Who was it that did all of the setting up of houses, making each house a home?  Who was it that was responsible for keeping the kids homeschooled, no matter what chaos we found ourselves in?  Who was it that had babies that died inside of her?  Who was it that had to physically deliver those babies and physically recover from those tragedies?  And the list of questions goes on and on, but the answer to those questions is ‘me.’  So, no wonder this ox started to falter, started to stumble along the path.  No wonder this ox needed recovery and healing and a break.  RESPITE

And here’s where it all went wrong.  (Please remember as you read the rest of this paragraph that there is a point to all of this, a 'moral of the story.')  But...instead of my teammate, that other ox that was yoked to me, stopping…that other ox just kept going.  Instead of him recognizing that his yoke-mate needed to pause, he insisted that a pause wasn’t necessary.  He continued to trudge along, dragging that already-beaten down ox along the gravel, causing even more damage.  Even getting irritated that that ox thought a pause was necessary.

Please hear me when I say that I reveal all of this NOT to make Joel sound bad.  Believe me when I say that he now knows and sees all of this for what it was.  Which is why he could write that blog post that he did.  He was blinded by wrong beliefs, and also by others’ very wrong counsel.  But, through that all, a lot has been revealed to us…and we’ve learned a lot.

And THAT is why this is all talked about.  Oh boy, do I have lots to say about marriage.  And about being yoked.  And about belief systems concerning both of those issues. 

But, this is getting long, so I’ll wait until next time to get into those things.  But, more about the yoke and belief systems in general concerning marriage next time.