I drove the western edge of The Land of Milk and Honey searching for the road to The Lake, barely able to see the road through my tears,
talking aloud to God, crying out to God for understanding, for someone, some man, somewhere to be on my side.
In my conversation with my bishop after meetings on Sunday it became apparent that I was alone. I wasn't able to express myself well enough to override his preconceived notions of my marital situation, and while I was looking for understanding, or even just a minimal portion of compassion I was instead receiving judgment which incorporated a bishop's opinion rather than gospel teachings. I had gone in, hoping for guidance through my remaining fear of returning to my husband, for help in finding peace. What I confronted was the attitude that since my husband is working hard in counseling and in altering his behavior, that the only present problems in the marriage stem from what the bishop sees as my nagging insistence that my husband and I have a child. This man obviously has no clue what sort of agony I've dealt with in the last two years, nor does he have any inclination of trying to understand. It was extremely frustrating. I listened to his counsel. I agree with most of it.
I have prayed for miracles, and they are taking place. If he continues with his present effort, my husband is once again man I believed I was marrying. He is getting help. He admits his wrongs and takes responsibility. He is tempering his reaction toward me, fighting to be understanding.
I have prayed and received. And now I am faced with the choice of whether to return or to continue to wait. I won't lie. I am nervous. I think it would be folly to live without some degree of apprehension. We're still human. We're still going to have issues. I'm still really lousy with conflict, even though I'm working on my end too. And when we are good, that old ache for a child, the feeling of a waiting presence, the sense that someone is missing when my family is gathered has never been far behind. It frightens me, because it hurts.
And instead of understanding that I do love my husband, that I do want our marriage to be amazing, that I want to return, my bishop assumed that I had come to him because I want to hear justification to not return because he assumes I am baby hungry.
The men I've encountered don't get this. I want to believe it's possible, but I don't know if they are divinely equipped for this kind of empathy.
I drove through town in desperate distress, pleading for help, and decided to go to The Lake.
My bishop had said. All that matters is your spouse. Husband and wife. It doesn't matter whether or not they have a baby. In the end it's just the two of them anyway. The kids don't matter. Not in the big picture.
I know he's trying to get me to understand doctrine that is already firmly fixed in my brain. But I was alarmed by his choice of words and complete disavowal of everything the plan is poised upon. Increase. The Proclamation on the Family. Scriptural commandment to multiply. Prophetic counsel to open our homes to as many spirits as we can accommodate within our emotional, physical, and financial means. And whether he knew it or not, he was completely negating my eternal role as well as the blessings of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
I left the office after a blessing, grateful for all counsel that followed the doctrines of Christ. Twenty-four hours later, the things he'd said that were in glaring error had festered until I was in complete distress. I found The Lake and called my husband asking him to join me.
There is reason, and then there is instinct. I didn't need some man on my side; I needed my husband there. Once he arrived I jumped into his vehicle and we sat in the fading light of the year, staring out across the snow-covered surface of The Lake in placid reflection. I dared to share, to open up parts of me that he commonly leaves wounded, and I poured out my heart to him. He listened. He cried with me. He told me that not only is he in my corner, he's the guy with the water bottle, who lances my blood pockets and holds the spit can. If I'm anything like Rocky Balboa, he'll probably die of a heart attack in the middle of my toughest round.
I believe him. Not the dying part. I know he's with me for life, and, come hell or high water, he'll be there in the next life as well. Hard as our differences are, we are not opponents. He's also learning that I don't need him to fix everything for me, or to solve my problems, or even to be as protective as I know he wants to be. Not that I ever intended for the bishop to come out the enemy in all of this, after my husband listened and validated my concerns I no longer feel inclined to confront my ecclesiastical leader about his doctrinal faux pas.
My biggest relief came as we watched the sun go down on the last day of the year; light ebbing on hardship and trial like I've never known. On so many occasions this kind of conversation would quickly become toxic, and instead, this time, I felt we were pulled closer together. I don't need to change his mind. I don't need action. I just need him to love, listen to and understand me. I can't say trials are over—they aren't—but as darkness came to 2012 I felt a long awaited rest, and I finished out the year in the arms of my partner and companion.