So here’s Chapter 6, Part #1: Emma’s Letter #6 of my novel Dates with God. We see Emma recognize a chemical shift as it happens. She has a fight with her husband, sparked by her home teacher, but discovers for the first time how to deal with the aftermath so that she doesn’t have insomnia. We also see her discover wisdom from John Adams as applied to marriage, and acknowledges her battles with her husband, kids, body image, and self-worth. She finds out that Betsey Ten Boom used drills in The Hiding Place, and she learns of a dark secret from her husband’s past, which gives her compassion that completely changes her perspective on his “laziness.” If you want background for the story, please read Like Dragons Did They Fight (free on Kindle!) and take my Mothers Who Know Class.
Emma Week #6
Wow, am I getting better at noticing chemical shifts. I noticed a chemical shift inside me and recognized it and was able to interrupt a would-be fight with Clark. Wow, this is a first time I’ve noticed a chemical shift before a marital fight. It seems like everyone in my class argues with their husbands, except for Kate. Both Jill and Lauren talk about it and get off on tangents a little and then the mentor reigns them in.
Well, when I noticed this shift, for the first time EVER I didn’t get sucked in. I remembered something I read on Maurice’s blog*, a little twist on the scripture, “If you receive not the Spirit, you can not teach.” (D&C 42:17) The twist is “If you aren’t feeling the Spirit [especially if the other person is being mean, rude, or prideful], don’t speak.” That’s because the other person is stoned, and talking won’t help. The shift helped me realize that I wasn’t feeling the Spirit and should not speak or things would escalate. So I excused myself and walked away. I saw my Girl Power journal, and started writing. I asked myself all the 6 questions in the Captain’s Log. I felt my heart racing and my mind whirling. Clark was already stoned, that’s why the Spirit was not in the room. That is why it was fruitless for me to say anything. I was definitely on the verge of being stoned.
I just wrote and wrote, all the questions in the Captain’s Log and all of my answers. Then I wrote about what happened and how I won a battle by walking away. When I was done I went to bed. But I just lay there, wide awake. I kept thinking of all the things Clark had said, and all the things I wanted to say back to him and would have if he hadn’t been stoned. I decided it was better to go do something productive than lie there so I got out of bed. I remembered that novel my friends have been suggesting that I write. The one I always say I don’t have time for. The novel that will make Jane Austen jealous! This was my chance! I found an empty notebook from where I keep my stash and started a basic plot outline, then a chart of the characters, the theme, the setting, and a dozen startlingly clever metaphors and similes. Gradually, I felt my body relax and I started to nod off as I was writing. Success! My mind and body had sufficiently been unwinding so that I could slide into sleep. So then I knew I could go to bed insomnia free. I slipped into bed with a smile on my face. That was the best sleep I’ve had in a long time. The night after a potential fight, if you can believe it!
The fight was about his lack of making $. There’s a big story behind it. One of our home teachers asked us out to dinner with his wife a few days ago. During the course of the meal, he mentioned he had been to southern Utah and done business with some polygamists. So then we had this huge conversation about them. The usual remarks were made whenever this topic comes up with Clark: their unusual dress, including long sleeves and dresses, even in the 120 degree heat, the uniform swept-up bangs of the women, and the fact that Clark had a roommate at BYU whose sister married one, because her roommate’s dad got the hots for her. I surprised everyone by saying that maybe polygamy wasn’t such a bad idea because as a mom I would love to have more helping hands of adult women in the house. I wondered aloud how these men are able to support more than one wife and so many children. Then Clark said, “Oh, they’re hard workers.” I was dumbfounded. For months I have encouraged him to work hard at his own consulting business and then he’ll succeed. He does have an MBA, so he knows something about business. If he makes it work, he won’t need to find a job because he will have created his own salary. He’s always made excuses or said there’s more to success than hard work. Now here he was claiming that that’s how a man can support not just one family, but many, by hard work. It totally bugged me that he was being hypocritical and so clueless about it.
Later that night I called him on it. I reminded him of what he said. Then I asked him if he truly believes it. He said yes. Then I let out the zinger. Looking back, I probably should not have done it. Kate, our resident expert of the classical womanly arts, would definitely not approve of what I said as wifely. This is what I said: “Why don’t you follow your own advice and work hard too? Then your consulting business would provide for us, and we wouldn’t be living off someone else’s money.” He got really mad and starting back-pedaling, giving some lame excuse about how “Well, there’s really more to making money than working hard. You have to have the right connections and the lucky breaks.” I just sat there staring at him and then walked away. Looking back, I realize that I felt a slight chemical shift of anger and frustration before I let out the zinger but I chose to let it out anyway. Oops. Maybe I need to have a Girl Goal about only communicating positively to my husband. Sometimes I have so many negative things to say to him but there’s probably a more positive way I can say it. Also maybe a more positive time to say it, when I am not already feeling the satanic spin. I guess it’s one step forward and two steps back in my life.
When I started having kids by adopting them, I really wanted to do it right. I totally felt this intense desire to love them and foster their happiness in the best way possible. I was determined not to repeat the abusive cycle handed to me from my parents. I threw myself into attachment parenting and mindful discipline and the right nutrition for kids. I even breastfed my adopted babies and did elimination communication. It actually has been very healing for me to love them the way I wanted to be loved. I’m always wanting to be with them all the time and give them all the things I never had, to the point I have to be careful not to give them too much. It hit me the other day, that I have become like those moms in my Grandma’s ward, whose lives seemed boring and predictably perfect with all their perfectly cute groomed kids on Sundays, sitting in a row. Little did I know that even a life that seems cute and normal on the outside can hide all sorts of battles, and battle scars, with satan. I constantly battle satan over getting my kids to be less self-centered and more hard-working. I constantly battle satan over being angry with my husband. I constantly battle satan over my body image and self-worth. Those moms probably did too.
Of course, the princess theme craze doesn’t help. I have to begrudgingly admit that the Princess theme has invaded my house with my four little girls. I never thought I would be into this stuff when I was a kid. A month ago my daughters and I went to a party with a princess theme, and it really got me thinking of how most girls love the princess theme, because they inwardly know they are daughters of a king. So many little girls I know are captivated by the princess idea. My girls even talked me into going to a Princess Convention. I came away so put off by it. I saw way too many bratty little girls, throwing fits and acting entitled to have every silly little trinket at every booth. There was too much emphasis on entitlement, vanity, and indulgence. It just felt so shallow. Yes, I want my girls to be beautiful. I also want my girls to be imaginative, kind, generous, magnanimous and gracious like a true princess and not be self-centered. I want them to realize that princesses and queens are there to serve the subjects of their kingdoms, not to be worshiped. I have been reading The Hiding Place. Corrie and her sisters are the kind of women I want my daughters to grow up to be like. I would much rather have my daughters emulate Corrie and Betsy ten Boom than any Disney princess.
I’ve decided to do a princess/royalty study in the scriptures and see what Thou has to tell me to teach to my little girls about true princesses as part of our homeschooling. This is going to be fun! I am hoping it takes my mind off my situation with Clark. I have been studying the Lost Classical Womanly Arts book and asking Kate questions. I am just letting it all percolate inside me more before I attempt another womanly campaign.
A cool thing I noticed in The Hiding Place is that they actually do drills in there. Corrie’s family, the ten Booms knew that it was entirely possible for the authorities to show up and start searching the home for Jews. So they anticipated that coming and started practicing what they would do when they come. One of them would ring the buzzer and then they would all run as fast as they could to their hiding places. They would time themselves and see if they could get faster and faster. I’ve always admired Corrie Ten Boom. If she felt like drills were needed in her life to be safe from the enemy, I am more than sure that I need them in my life to be safe from Public Enemy Number One. So I’ve been thinking about what I might do for my drill.
I am so grateful for this class. I thank Thee for leading me to it.
Something happened the other day that totally felt like a bomb was dropped in my lap. At the end of that party that Clark’s mom had for his birthday, she gave me a box full of his old school papers and stuff. I found this journal he had to keep at school in sixth grade that I pored over one quiet afternoon when the older kids were at a birthday party and the little ones were napping. I was shocked at what was in there. He was challenged to fight a boy when he was 12. Not surprisingly to me, he didn’t want to so he ran home and hid in the garage. His older brother told their dad about it, so the dad dragged him out and told Clark he had to fight the boy or he would get a beating from his dad. Clark ended up fighting the boy and got a broken arm, bloody nose, and black eye. I was dumbfounded that my father-in-law would insist that he fight. I mean, I never had a dad who was fully functional, and I am not a boy, but this doesn’t sound right for a normal, healthy dad, to treat his son like that. I got teary-eyed when I read the pages. As I read more and more, it just got worse. I found a string of abuses that happened to Clark, mostly from older boys in his neighborhood. I then remembered how Clark had brought home a magazine from work, about two months ago, and left it in the master bathroom open to an article about child sexual abuse. He never said a word, but the things I read in his journal matched what I had read in the article. I don’t want to go into details, it’s too sad. I’m praying to Thee to help me know the right time to bring it up to him. I think he needs counseling.
A light started dawning in my mind to help me just catch a glimpse that Clark has a whole life behind him before we got married that I know very little about. Maybe this history of abuse is partly why he doesn’t act the way I want him to. Who knows what other hurts he has bottled up inside of him that haven’t healed? Trauma can definitely interfere with ambition. After reading all of it it makes me think it’s pretty amazing that he has led a fairly functional life up until his unemployment. It makes me realize how important it is for me, even more than I believed before, to create a Christ-centered home and family life. I want to be a happy, supportive wife, who gets out of the way between Christ and Clark so that Christ can work on Clark’s heart.
I want a home that is a peaceful, bright, and cheerful refuge, no matter how poor I am, so that Clark can feel the Spirit of Christ and start the healing process. I know I’ve thought about divorce, but now I see clearly more than ever that that is satan putting those thoughts in my head. Clark needs the home and marriage I can make for him, and I need the providing he can do for me, especially after he heals, so I can be the stay-at-home mother that I want to be. I have hope for that! I am not falling for the fiery darts of lies satan throws at me! I am creating a home that is what Elder Richard G. Scott described in his April 2013 General Conference talk. He said, “One of the greatest blessings we can offer to the world is the power of a Christ-centered home where the gospel is taught, covenants are kept, and love abounds.”
I heard a line in the John Adams miniseries on DVD that has been helping me. I’ve been rekindling my love affair for good, classic movies that teach history and principles. Watching these movies at home on our laptop in our bedroom makes for a cheap date night. So I’ve been watching the miniseries on John Adams, every night with Clark after the kids are in bed. (I did end up writing a disclaimer that on date nights, I don’t have to have lights out at 10:30.) There’s a principle of marriage that John acknowledges when John and Abigail are reunited in Paris after a long separation because of John’s diplomatic work in France. Not only were they separated physically by an ocean, but John interrupted their long postal letter correspondence, so they had been emotionally separated. When they are back together in France, Abigail asks why he stopped writing letters to her and says that she has harsh words for him. Then John replies that it was because he felt too burdened with all of his problems and didn’t want to burden her. He tells her, “No man wants to appear a fool before his wife.” Then he asks her to forgive him and open her heart to him again. He tells her, “Without you to steady me, without you I dismiss my god, I grow weak, and vain.” I love the humility in that. I wonder if Clark would ever say that to me. Maybe he would like to, but it hasn’t been easy for him to do so because I have been so uptight and stressed about the finances.
So I’ve been thinking about John’s words. It seems like Clark is acting like a fool, but maybe it doesn’t look like that to him. Maybe he’s dealing with life the best way he knows how, with the burdens he has. So I ask Thee God to please help me know how to help him have an open heart for healing. I ask Thee to please help me to take upon Thy yoke that my burdens might be light. I want to shine and be a light for Clark so he will cast his burdens on Thee.
copyright 2015 Celestia Shumway