The Spiritual Rudder

windshield-repair3

A little help, here?

Wednesday, May 8; 6:30pm.

I’m sitting in the basement of our church, just after enjoying our usual Wednesday night, PEAK (Praise Education And Kids) meal. The food is always yummy, the company friendly…and let’s face it…feeding a family of five for $12 total (all of which goes to the church) isn’t such a bad deal. Plus, I don’t have to cook on Hump Day.

All. Good. Things.

Sugar Bean is in her youth group and the other two sprouts are in their classes as well. Several lectures are being conducted in various rooms of the building, so there’s something for everyone if you choose to partake. I just happen to find the basement comfortable, inviting, peaceful and quiet…allowing my brain time to breathe. Which doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should lately. Neither the brain breathing nor the peaceful quiet. But WHO am I kidding? I have The Beans…and they are noisy. Carry On, Warrior!

Anyway, one of the lectures currently happening is titled:

 “War, Divorce, and Faith: A Military Psychologist Reflects on Being a Christian”

 

Although I don’t have the first clue what, exactly, the lecture is about, just seeing the flyer taped to the wall was enough to plant the seed for an inner dialogue…and, of course, a post. Call it FOUNDATION INSPIRATION!

Sometimes, marriage is a series of battles, which can lead to a WAR. Battles ensue over parenting, finances, intimacy, in-laws, addiction, work stress–the list goes on. Too often, those seemingly benign, civil disputes mount to such a height, it results in DIVORCE. Enter FAITH. You must have faith that everything–despite all evidence to the contrary–will be okay, and hope for the best. Or at least a peaceful ending. One way, or another. Easier said than done, I know. Trust me.

Never having been through a divorce from either perspective–my parents were married 46 years before they passed, and I’ve been married for 14 so far– I don’t have any words of comfort or pearls of wisdom to share on how difficult it is to navigate. But I can say with firm certainty that MARRIAGE is tough. Next to parenthood–which is an ongoing, flawed experiment in failure almost every waking moment in my world–marriage is the hardest job I have. Or have EVER had for that matter. I’ve modeled naked in front of an art class full of strangers…in fluorescent lighting…and that wasn’t as exhausting, soul-baring or frightening for goodness sake! I’ve slung drinks behind the bar of a celebrity laden, Hollywood hotspot and not felt so exposed or used up. Seriously. Just the basic principle of it, meaning whole-hearted commitment, takes effort, from both people involved. Hence the reciprocal, vows of matrimony. It’s a partnership, and the moment one person begins to neglect any aspect of it, the foundation begins to develop miniscule cracks. Not visible to the untrained eye at first glance, but nonetheless present, these cracks can–if ignored over time–spread farther and farther into the pillars of the marriage. Is anyone surprised? Not really?

I thought so.

Picture a windshield with a tiny crack buried deep in the far corner. You see it, but don’t give it much thought. Realistically, how much can that little thing compromise the strength of the great big windshield, right? The “I’ll get to it later” mentality sets in. Seasons change, storms happen, temperatures rise and fall. Before you realize what’s happened, that tiny crack has grown into a spider-web across the windshield, obstructing your view…making it impossible to see the road ahead with any clarity.  BAM! You are lost. Completely off the grid. And THAT is some scariness. 

Saddens me to say, but it happens in marriage too.

Sounds pretty grim, huh?

Kinda like a crash in the last lap of the Talladega 500, I’m guessing.

There IS good news though. If you have a spiritual rudder–whatever faith it’s rooted in– helping you navigate the twists and turns, you’ll avoid careening into the center divider, and instead…find a repair shop just around the bend. Hallelujah, and praise the Heavens! You can pull into the pit…rally the crew (if you’ve employed one) and get a refurbished windshield! Not entirely new…just reworked. They don’t give them away for free, mind you. It takes hard work, patience and effort, but if you love the car with your heart and soul, and would rather it spit and sputter…dying beneath the weight of your efforts to save it…rather than have to bear the heartache of trading it in…then it’s totally worth the time, effort and patience required to finish the race and see that checkered flag waving in the breeze. The kicker is, you AND your co-driver both have to be in it for the long haul. No compromises. It takes two, working together. Period. Why, you ask? Because inevitably…you will get a flat tire, blow a gasket, break a belt, overheat, lock the keys in the car, forget where you parked, leave the window down during a rainstorm, or get drunk and need a ride home. Guaranteed. You always need a partner when dealing with anything automotive…or marital. If you are single, I suggest AAA. Or a professional NASCAR pit crew, if you can wrangle one. But be warned…you don’t quite receive that “personal touch”. Especially if you happen to be negotiating with AA simultaneously. Amen.

So, regardless of the fact that I have totally compared my marriage…and perhaps yours…to the machinations of automotive car parts and NASCAR racing…

YOU GET THE POINT.  RIGHT?

 

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Flip, flop, and then…just STOP?

So.

I have been avoiding this topic. When I think about it, it really upsets me. For lots of reasons. Mainly because it made The Beans very sad, and that alone makes me feel like a failure as a parent. One who is powerless to fix the problem this time. And I’m a fixer, which adds salt to an already infected wound. Throw in that my Sugar Bean wrote this, not too long ago, and I am all sorts of a hot mess at the moment. Minus the hot part.

All three of The Beans are gifted gymnasts. I know, I know. Everyone thinks their kid is the best at what they do. This is different though. They have a raw, God-given ability for this sport. Seriously. Anyone who has seen them at their meets agrees. Their coaches agree. Total strangers agree. I’ve had parents ask what kind of super-food I feed them. LOL. They are the gymnastic equivalent to a trio of piano prodigies.

It started when Sugar Bean was 4 years old. Thinking it would be something fun for her, I took her in for an evaluation at a popular, gymnastics school. After exhibiting super-human strength by zipping up the rope and ringing the bell mounted on a beam at the ceiling of the gym…she landed in the preschool advanced class, and I was asked if I was ready for the world of competitive gymnastics, because my little one was, “freakishly strong and coordinated, showing real promise in the sport”. “Bring. It. On.” I said. For 3 years she trained, 4 days a week, alternating team classes with private lessons, etc. By age 7, she was performing skills that girls much older than her had not mastered. Her technical ability far exceeded her psychological understanding of it, and how very gifted she was. The older girls on her team were mean to her. She burnt out fast, and getting her to the gym became all about the meltdown. It was a distraction for her teammates, and The Man flat refused to take her. Ever. Despite the fact that I was very pregnant with #2. Too much for him to handle. She asked to quit. We had no choice but to allow it. I figured the best thing to do was bide our time and see if she rekindled her excitement and passion for it sometime in the future.

She did.

Just before her birthday last year, she announced she wanted to return to the sport. A family member overheard this, and offered to be the financial benefactor, as The Man and I just haven’t been in the place to allow anything like that in the past few years. After some discussion, we agreed to let this happen, and thanked them profusely. Of course, now we have two more daughters, who decided they also wanted to give it a whirl. Asked if that was okay? No problem. Everyone could participate 🙂 Happy dances all around.

We found a wonderful facility, with outstanding and nurturing coaches and staff. Each of the girls started class in September. A month in, the older girls were asked to join the team. The Oldest was placed in Level 4, where she had been when she quit. Amazing, considering she had been on hiatus from the sport for five years. Butter Bean landed in Level 3, after only 6 training sessions…EVER. Sweet Pea was placed in the “Hot Shots” which is the class just before Pre-team. ALL THIS HAPPENED WITHIN A MONTH. Soon, everyone was training several days a week, and competing in meets on weekends. At every meet, their scores would soar higher and higher in each event. It was clear, they were blessed with skill for gymnastics. ALL OF THEM. And they beamed with excitement and pride after every competition. Scores aside, they were happy, which made me happy.

Flashback to 10 days ago. The day before this happened.

I got the heartbreaking news they would no longer be able to continue their training due to financial reasons. All of a sudden. Dreams dashed. While I understand completely, I am shattered. It’s an expensive sport, and we simply can’t shoulder the financial commitment at this time. Eventually, perhaps, but not at the moment. Since it was the beginning of the billing cycle, I called the gym to let them know The Beans would not be returning until further notice. Their coaches were shocked, to say the least. For 8 months now, the gym has been our family’s second home. We were there at least 10 hours a week. Most of my blog posts have been written via laptop from the lobby of the gym. Seriously.

Their main coach said “This is the worst afternoon of my life. Let’s talk about this. Let me see if I can speak to the board and find a solution, some sort of help. Would you and your husband be willing to help with activities and such in exchange for some tuition assistance? The loss of your girls to this team, and your family to this facility would just be too much. They love it here, are having fun, and we love your family. There has to be something that can be done.”YES! Of course we will do whatever it takes to keep them training. We just can’t shuck out $800 a month in tuition, in addition to meet fees, equipment expenses, etc.” I replied. He said he would let me know.

I’m still waiting….but hopeful.

Meanwhile, the most devastating part is we made a commitment, and can’t ful-fill it. They have missed a whole week of training so far, and were supposed to compete again in a week. As a family, we’ve let the team and the gym down. As parents, we have let our daughters down. Epic parenting fail #12,832.

How do I handle this? Literally, and psychologically. Have any of you ever run into something similar? There has to be a way, because there is definitely a will here.

If I hear something, I’ll post an update. Promise.

 

 

Sisters hugging it out before a meet.

Sisters hugging it out before a meet.