A picture popped up in my news feed today. Don’t you love how Facebook reminds you of your memories? Some of them are pleasant, some of them were difficult times. Sometimes you thought you were doing fine, but inside you really were not. And when you look back, it all becomes clearer.
Below is the photo Facebook put in my newsfeed today . Karl and I, the night before our 12th anniversary 2 years ago (Feb 2015, the photo above is more recent) . A special night out. At the time I posted the photo. I didn’t think much of it. Everything was fine. We were fine. It was time to celebrate. It wasn’t till I looked at this photo today, that I realised my husband Karl, was not fine.
I now see a man who was on the brink, who had had enough. He looks terribly tired, and a little lost. His eyes look empty. At the time, I think we both thought this was normal. I mourn that I didn’t see it more clearly at the time.Don’t get me wrong, we talked and I knew things weren’t great but I thought it was a “stage”, and things would get better, as they always had in the past.
Now I look back, and today my heart fills with pain, and my eyes with tears because I can see the trouble he was struggling to hide behind his eyes, and I wonder how he felt; because I didn’t know the full extent of his trouble at the time. This wonderful man who has stuck by me through thick and thin. He was barely holding things together, but putting on a good front about it. But not that good, when I look long at this picture. Perhaps I should have looked harder.
Karl and I are Christian, and have a deep faith in Jesus, that He alone can get us through anything. And I praise Him that at this time He protected us. That He protected our marriage, and our health. Things certainly could have gone in a different way. I thank Him daily that he gave Karl a vision- a vision to travel Australia. A vision I didn’t fully get “on board” with till MONTHS after we had hit the road. We left only a few weeks after this picture was taken, and when we got away, Karl physically and mentally crashed for a good 8-10 months. It scared me, as it seemed sudden. But now I see it. I see it all. I had plenty of notice, if I would have taken the time to truly see.
Karl had been keeping it all together for us. He packed up an entire business premises single handedly, while continuing to run his businesses. He packed up the house into storage, AND fitted out our bus as a motor home- all simultaneously for 18 months. I don’t know how he did it. People ask me all the time and I don’t know, except to say there was a great cost to his physical and mental health, and that his “why” for hitting the road was so ingrained in him, that he just didn’t give up until it was done and we could go. His need for change was that deep.
My sorrow is heavy, but that time is gone and we have healed. The lesson I take? Wives, Pray for your husbands. They are often carrying a burden we know nothing of. Pray that they will open up. Be their safe space. Lift them up to the true Healer. Never stop pursuing and asking…. never give up. Treat your husband with grace, the grace that was shown to you by your heavenly Father. Be patient. Be kind. Love. Hold space.
Tomorrow, it is our anniversary again. 2 Years after the photo above…Nearly 2 years on the road. We are different people. Our priorities have changed. We no longer live to work. We have incredible balance, and the kids are basically always with us. We love spending time together, discovering nature, and even doing mundane tasks together. We just enjoy each other. Money is not important to us anymore, and because our spending has drastically changed, we are in a much better position financially- not through increased income as much as through savings and cut backs. Most importantly, we are much closer to each other. The sunshine has come out from behind the clouds, and we are basking in the sun. We pray daily, by the grace of God, that we will never again lose sight of the things that are truly important.