Trouble with Pronouns

When Kara and I were first married, I was very independent. I was 5 years older than she and had more time to create who I was; simply, I was selfish. Early on in our marriage I had a really hard time using the “we” and not the “I”. This led to a lot of arguments. It seemed to take years of conscious effort on my part to live life in the plural. But I did it. I became a “we” and an “us,” and that shaped how I made decisions, how I spoke, and what I did on the weekends. This became a natural and joyful part of my life, to continually include the feelings and opinions of another in all decisions.

Now I am an “I”. It seems so simple, but it is a dramatic struggle. When I was a “we,” I would look at the future and think of things we would do or plan. We would talk through everything. What do I do with those dreams? Our plan of growing old together, sitting in rocking chairs, and being grandparents is gone. In my present circumstance, my expected future is not realistic.

Marriage is such a shaping relationship; to be out of this relationship is confusing. One of the books that I have really enjoyed is Jerry Sittser's A Grace Disguised. He writes from his experience of losing his mother, his wife, and a young daughter in one horrible accident. This accident forever changed his circumstance and his expectation of life.

If that remains my expectation, then I will surely be disappointed. But perhaps I can expect something else that is equally good, only different. I have the opportunity and privilege, for example, to raise my children now as a single father, to learn to enjoy life and find contentment as a single man, and to gain wisdom through the experience of suffering. Again, my expectations can remain high if I am willing to adapt them to new circumstances.

I don't like this new circumstance, but it helps me to embrace my new reality. I’m a widower, I don’t have a wife, I am a single dad to four wonderful kids. But even in these I can have great expectations. I have slowly come to adjust to my new circumstance; I know the adjustment is not over and it will be a lifelong process.

The more I see how God's grace shows up in my present circumstances, the more I have a high expectation of the same in the future. God is God of my present and He is God of my future. He is the one who provided the joy in our marriage and He will provide for me now.

How do your present circumstances affect what you expect in your future? These circumstances can be welcome or broken, but they play a role in what you expect. How do you see God providing in the midst of your circumstance?