Saturday, September 28, 2019

Break it or bless it


I wrote this a while ago - not sure why I didn't publish it but here we go:

In Taize, I sat down with a nun, and we ended up talking about how relationships are about risk.

Loving Jacob, choosing to love him, falling continuously in love with him - is the riskiest thing I have ever done.

(aside from maybe cycling in London or jumping into a ravine in Jordan.)

(And yet - still the riskiest.)

Let me go back a bit. Soon after I started going out with Jacob, I saw down with a woman in church and talked about relationships, and she told me about setting emotional boundaries. She described it as 'not marrying him in your mind', a phrase which I accepted but didn't understand.

Jacob and I set our physical boundaries pretty early on in our relationship - it was as simple as sitting down and saying 'Let's think about our boundaries.' I had physical boundary talks with my Mum and with a married friend, and those were so useful. That's not to say that keeping physical boundaries was a single event. We've had to continually negotiate and re-affirm those boundaries in these (almost) two years.

But the reason I went to talk to the nun was because I'd been turning over the concept of emotional boundaries in my mind. How do I balance keeping an emotional boundary with the intimacy of love?

It brought me back to a email (part of a weekly subscription I have to hannahbrencher's blog) I received:

'I am all about dreaming and having a vision but there’s a line we can easily cross in our brains. We shift from imagining the possibilities into marrying something in our minds. [...] It’s so easy to shift into this mode of thinking, “This person is going to be mine. This person is going to be my future.”
[...]
Let’s pause. For five seconds, let’s pause and pray a really, really hard prayer to pray: God, bless it or break it. Bless it or break it. It’s a gutsy prayer because God listens. It’s a gutsy prayer because he will move. And it’s a hard prayer to pray because it means you releasing control and you are basically saying, “Whatever the outcome, I’ll still say Amen to it.”'

That prayer is, for me, what balancing an emotional boundary with the risk of love feel like

Having to pray that prayer has become a very big reality this past week, as Jacob and I look to the end of this year and what will happen when I move back to Singapore to start work with NHB. We have dreams of him coming too, getting a job, moving over.  But getting a job isn't easy, nor is moving country, and at a lot of points last week I've felt like systems and circumstances seem to be very much in the way, leaving both of us feeling quite small and weak and unable. So one night we prayed to God to break it or bless it. It was directly the outcome of job applications, but also encompassed the relationship as a whole. I's suggested we pray it, but I found I couldn't actually say the words when I prayed because as Hannah Brencher said, they are really, really hard to pray when you know that God has the power to break something you really want him to bless. Jacob, thankfully, was strong for the both of us and prayed it so that I could nod along in my heart, submitting to God's sovereignty while knowing my heart could be broken, but knowing God is always good.

Back to the present i.e. 28th September:

Now that I read these words in hindsight, I am so glad we did trust God with the risk of holding our relationship. While I wasn't always able to not imagine the future and desire it in my mind (and learning to balance hope for a certain future and trust in God's goodness should it not materialise was a whole other lesson) Jacob and I were able to remind each other that that possibility rested on the grace of God. Jacob comes to Singapore in 2 days, and that fills my heart with gladness and thankfulness.

2 days!

Be still my heart.

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