from the carpet

i'm going to say something here, and it's going to sound like one of those god-squad, cotton candy and sunday school rainbows-for-brains type of sentiments that really narrow-minded christians tend to throw around.

i don't know how any two people can be successfully married without jesus.

are you rolling your eyes? that's cool, because maybe if you get it, you can share the secret with me. no wait, don't, i wanna stick it out with jesus. the fact is, i know some people are healthily married and seemingly without him.

if 50% of marriages end in divorce that means 50% don't. granted there is a vast majority of the still-wed group that is probably in some form of loveless or cold or abusive or distracted and dysfunctional marriage, but the fact is that there are couples out there who are pretty happily married for decades and never really give a thought to jesus. that's kind of amazing to me. these people must just be so naturally inclined to give grace and love and lay down their own desires for one another that the marriage thrives. though, isn't that the heart of christ anyway? even if they don't acknowledge it as such? (Narnia's Last Battle, anyone?). or maybe they're just so incredibly emotionally compatible that conflict never arises.

and evidently loving jesus and caring about what he would like you to do with your life and your marriage isn't always enough to stop you from wondering, "why in the freaking ass hell did i ever get married?" it's not even enough to keep millions of his followers out of that divorced 50%.

so, call your local news station with this late-breaking revelation: marriage is hard.

i know because i found myself on saturday morning ensconced behind a bed and a pak n' play on the floor of my in-laws guest bedroom chemically breaking down a kleenex into its individual molecules with a cocktail of my tears, snot, mascara, rage and frustration.

it was a low point, fa sho. not my finest hour. we had breakfast plans with some of our out-of-town best friends and were meeting up at the dukes' place because it was more convenient as a halfway point since dukes were on vacation and so graciously allowed us to use their kitchen and some of their frozen blueberries. because of this obligation, i couldn't just run back home and hide and cry and rail against the world like i would have preferred. jesse and judah at least had to show up, and since we were riding in the same car and had no time to spare before our friends showed up when this emotional hiroshima occurred, i was resigned to take my blubbering sideshow along and stuff it into the spare room.

it is at this very point in life that everyone should drop what they are doing and go out and find a friend who will come into that room, knowing what is lurking and secreting fluids behind the door, lay her face down on the floor and talk to you around the dust bunnies under the bed while you are at your lowest; while you would rather hide from the entire universe. she will not comment that you only have on one earring (it's partner was poking into my head as i lay there), that you blew a snot bubble, or that your nose has almost doubled in size and turned bright red. she will listen. listen so gracefully and compassionately that her silences start to speak loving truths through the haze of confusion and pain. the electric, buzzing, tightly-cinched knots of your situation as viewed in a post-blowup breakdown start to loosen and untangle become perceivable when she says she understands and doesn't recoil in horror at your behavior. she will gently tell you that it's okay to fight, but she will absolutely not condone or ignore the fact that you let it happen in front of your child. without even touching you (too far to reach under the bed) she will pull you out of the stinking, self-pitying, satan-infested pit that an hour earlier had no escape. thank god i have one of those.

for about 30 minutes i just sobbed to natalie and tried to articulate why it was so hard and what wasn't working with us lately. how we had pretty much become just roommates, and not even close ones at that; just coexisting in peace as long as no real emotion was required. how the littlest things that challenged the fragile detente had us blowing up in record time and were inevitably ending in hate-fests of us screaming at each other "you're not listening to me!" how we have tried not to, but end up screaming at each other in front of judah and the soul-wrenching self- and spouse-loathing that results upon realizing the damage we are causing him. not to mention how all this stress and anger and frustration is undoubtedly manifesting in some biological way and making its way along the umbilical cord to affect layla. what a mess.

after a few minutes of her gentle questions and trying to figure out if it was some specific fight we were in or just symptoms of something else. she asks me, "well, how is your relationship with scott?" and i am like, "huh? who the hell is scott" and then i realize she said "god" and not "scott" and then i remember, like getting struck by lightning all of a sudden, that i am an idiot. the whole time i have been in there, all sackcloth and ashes, crying towards the heavens, asking jesus to please, please help me, telling him, i can't do this anymore and that i need him to take over, it had never occurred to me that i got to this place on the dark green tear-stained carpet precisely because i haven't been asking him those same things every day when it wasn't urgent-defcon -necessary to do so. that i had ever so politely asked him to leave me alone and let me do things my way. crap. i probably would have come off better if she had actually been asking about someone named scott.

i have been trying to strong-arm my way around this marriage through the force of my will, my abilities, my natural propensity for love and grace (re: smurf-esque amounts). i have been waving him off saying, 'i've got this, i've got it." and i am feasting off the fruits of my pitiful own little efforts.

natalie so aptly called marriage the most unnatural union ever. she's totally right. in the same way that it makes not a lot of sense for god to herald the coming of his eternal kingdom by choosing to let himself be killed as a peasant-scholar with barely 100 followers to carry on his message, it almost equally makes no sense that two such fundamentally different species as a man and a woman should try to resolve to totally separate wills by becoming one. it's mind-blowing, turn-the-moon-red and tear open the skies kind of backwards and illogical.

but with the horrifying realization that ignoring god in our marriage recently was the glaringly obvious root of all these problems, came the freedom in understanding, that, HUZZAH! we aren't just enemies who, through some cruel joke of the universe involving of pheromones and canap├ęs, ended up lawfully wedded! we aren't doomed because we are incompatible or incapable of love. it isn't just that we are broken and irreparable and beyond rescue. it isn't hopeless. hooray! we are morons and were never really intended to try to figure it out on our own. freeeeeeeedom!

so i made my bloated, red-faced way back into the kitchen to face a husband that i had and hour before sworn never, ever, ever to be nice to or touch again. i found him in the pantry and kind of just collapsed into him. we put on the temporary band-aid of mutual, blanket "i'm sorries" and had a surprisingly enjoyable pancake breakfast with our beautifully understanding friends.

later that same day, hanging out with another beloved missionary friend and sporting facial remnants of that morning's blubfest

on the way home we took gentle stock of where we had gotten ourselves and why. i came to the sobering realization that i hadn't opened my bible or spent any significant time with god in weeks. hmmm. no wonder. right then and there we shamefacedly took our junk to jesus and said, "okay, we have royally effed this up by trying to push you into the background and do this ourselves. thank you for letting us hit rock bottom and reminding us that you are still there. that you are the foundation (the rock bottom) of anything we are going to do and we need you to be there if any part of it is going to be healthy or thrive."

if marriage is such a strange, unnatural thing to my little brain, but one that i believe it was created by god, shouldn't i be turning back to him like every second and being like, "ummm, okay, what now jesus? this is your show and i am probably just going to mess it up if i try to steer this ship on my own." shouldn't i be spending time by myself and also alongside jesse asking god who he wants me to be as his child and as a wife? ah-doy! and yet it took nuclear snotfest 2010 to bring me back to this reality.

when i try to make a god-ordained union run without god, the result is pretty pathetic. it's painful and raw and damaging and it's a freaking playground for that fuckface satan to come in and mess with whole bunch of other stuff. i picture it as when i have a blowout on one of my tires and i'm driving around on the rim. yeah, i can still operate the car and drive it a fair distance, but i am having to exert so much energy just to keep it limping along the road and not careening off a bridge, and it is still hurting my car really bad. that's why when i get a flat tire, i immediately pull over and put on a new one. the few extra miles that i could go without aren't even close to worth the effort and damage that doing so would cause.

so right now, a week later, we are cruising along on our spare. we aren't ready to go 80 on the highway yet, but we are getting back to basics of letting god's will direct our marriage. doing a devotion together every day, praying on our own and together. and we are also getting our parts of the equation right: that we love each other to freaking pieces and want to be an encouragement in the other's life. that we are on the same team.

that's where the devil really kicks our butts. when we put jesus on the bench and take over on our own, things start snowballing and we end up full-fledged opponents. i start subtly treating jesse as if he's out to get me, to take advantage of me or pull one over one me. he starts to hear and perceive unspoken things in my tone and in my actions. soon, we are these two hyper-sensitive, yet mega-aggressive a-wipes who can't get along for 5 minutes because we are waiting for the knife in the back or the rug to be pulled out from under us. it's an unpleasant combo, sensitive and aggressive and enemies. imagine tom and jerry being married. or, more fittingly, itchy and scratchy...but with fragile hearts that shatter with every blow.

but i am learning that if we were secure in the fact that we are on the same side, with the same goals and the same god to give us the grace to continue, then satan wouldn't have a foothold anywhere. i guess some people can be an awesome spouses for each other without any conscious need for jesus, but i have decided and been handed tons of evidence that we aren't one of those couples. so this blog post is my little ebenezer to the [should be] obvious truth that we can't do this alone. please don't forget this, future keight.

celebrating (28 years and another fresh new chapter of marriage) on jesse's birthday at agave


  1. sigh. so refreshing. and so relate-able. love, love.

  2. a mentor once told me, "your husband is not your enemy". I think of that all the time (and a little saddened that it doesn't change my behavior as much as you'd think)

  3. thank you for sharing this...i love your blog because you are so honest and transparent.

    have you heard this song? Andrew Peterson’s “Dancing In The Minefields”. i think you may love it as much as i do

  4. Beautiful, K8...we love y'all both and thank you for your honesty...we, too, have just started back doing devotions together this week...funny how when you let God in an inch he basically speaks straight to you through those things (probably for fear that you'll fall away again soon)...so we are back to the basics with you :) Dinner soon?

  5. It's the only way Blaine and I have made it for almost 30 years (Aug. 16). God is there, every day, every hour, every second. Future Keight, NEVER forget. And if you're tempted to forget, call. I'll remind you. Only way marriage works. Love you dearly!

  6. Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen. Beautifully written. Beautiful example of jesus, marriage and that really sweet relationship between women when they're HONEST with one another. I was reading yesterday about applauding for god when he shows off (one of those silly beth moore-isms that I happen to LOVE about her!) and after reading your blog I literally stood up and clapped for jesus, you and jesse. WAY TO GO TEAM DUKES! KEEP IT UP!

    And, I don't know how people do it without him either. Life must really suck behind closed doors?! LOVE Y'ALL!!!!!!!!!

  7. I remember this time in our lives...first child/baby another on the way (hormonal mess)...newly married...trying to figure out life, parenting, jobs (do I work or stay home) finances...ugh! It's so hard!!! You are on the right track! Seeing the problems head on and seeking wisdom! Whoever said marriage is easy.. never married!!! Whoever said parenting is easy...never was a parent! I think this verse.."take up your cross daily" fits perfect. We have to daily work on being a christian, spouse and parent! Love ya'll!!! And if you ever need someone to have a cry fest with come on over girl!!!!!

  8. Just got back in town, and catching up with your blog. Thanks AGAIN for your honesty, Keight. You know I understand, and wish I'd been here that day. I know Jesus wants us to really understand our need for Him every second of every minute of every hour of every day. Thankfully, He loves me (and you) enough to go to GREAT lengths to get that through my thick head. Jesus has been our glue for 37 years. Couldn't do it without Him.

  9. ah, keight. awesome post. thanks for reminding us that God is needed is every aspect of our lives, even for those of us that are not yet married. you guys rock. xoxo

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  11. Don't know you. Don't know the person through who's blog I found you...but girl, you are freakin awesome!

    Thank you for writing this. It's amazing. Marriage is amazing. Jesus is amazing.

    ~Gretchen Lee~
    Hershey, PA

  12. I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE this post. Like LOVE! First of all (and not most important) I love the way you write. The way you're all down-to-earth, this-is-me, REAL-life, witty, leave-it-all-on-the-table, REAL. This is SO true it's ridiculous. So my question is this: when do you find time to do this? I know the whole "if it's important you'll make time" thing, but what works best for you? I have a 17-month old and a 5-month old and don't sleep through the night, therefore don't want to get out of bed any earlier than I have to, we both work, and are very involved in our church, so have like no time. I know I need to make time, but it's hard. And what do you do for devotions? It's easy for people to say they do their devotions and all that, but what do you specifically do? What works for you? I'm a hands-on person, so I need to write. Do you have any suggestions? ANyway, I absolutely LOVED this post and will star it in my Reader, share it, and email it to myself to read every so often. Thanks for your honesty and transparency!!! LOVE your blog!!!

  13. @joel and cindy: for a long time (starting with the day this fight happened) we did oswald chambers' "my utmost for his highest" as our devotion. we would both just commit to reading it sometime during the day and then talk about it that night before bed. did it always happen? nope. but when it did, it was awesome and our marriage benefited. we are now again in a season of madness and crazy schedules and it's harder. even if we arent doing a devotion book or reading plan, our main thing is praying together. its really hard and i always feel super awkward about it, but its crucial to our trust and intimacy with each other. sometimes we only remember to do it out of desperation in a huge fight, but it really makes a difference whenever we do it. thank you for reminding me about this post! we are in the midst of heading this way again, and i needed to be reminded.

  14. 4 years later and you have a new reader. Congrats on the new baby, btw. I am coming up on 50 years of marriage and today I so needed to read this post. You would think it would get easier after this long, but if you take your eyes off God and begin to believe that you can handle it on your own, it will head down hill fast. Thank you for reminding me. You are very funny and really have a way with words. Keep up the good work. One day you will be the one coming up on 50. It ain't easy, but then God never promised it would be.