I lie awake, listening to my husband slowly drifting off, gently snoring, rosary beads wrapped loosely around my fingers. Soon the snoring won’t be so gentle. A soft tap on the shoulder and he will turn over, opening up his airway to rhythmic breathing again. This is our nightly ritual in middle age as hormones play “hot potato” with my body. Night sweats, hot flashes, power surges – whatever you want to call it; those of us at the halfway line know the drill: blanket on, blanket off. Yet, it’s a time of coming into the wisdom and knowledge of who we are. It’s an awakening of a different kind.
I ponder all the details of our lives – our history together as a married couple. The seasons of our lives together: our hopes, our dreams, our desires. Tonight, I particularly ponder mine. I’ve always wanted to make a difference in the world. I don’t mean this on a small scale, I mean like being known for doing good on a grand scale. Saint Teresa of Calcutta is my patron saint after all. The bar isincredibly high.
When I was young, I dreamed of becoming a world-famous singer. I could imitate perfectly Whitney Houston, Diana Ross or even Gloria Gaynor on any day, never mind Anita Baker or Tina Turner.
I loved how USA for Africa brought so much attention to us Africans. I wanted to be a singer who made a difference in that way. But that was not to be. Wrong birthplace, wrong time. Use it, or lose it. I’ve not used it, so it’s pretty rusty. It’s not that I haven’t made a difference to thousands of students I taught English over the years, my family, and friends. It just hasn’t been on the scale that I had dreamed of.
What hubris! Notice the “I” all over that paragraph?
Psalm 63: 7-9 pops into my head as I contemplate the present moment, “When I think of you on my bed, through the night watches, I will recall that you indeed are my help, and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy. My soul clings fast to you; your right hand upholds me.” I see the hand of God in my journey. Throughout the good, the bad and the ugly, He has upheld me. In the quiet of the night, I know. The message is clear. The difference I am to make begins with the one sleeping next to me first. Not OUT THERE, but IN HERE. Charity must begin in my own heart and in my own home. I must do my own work first, then I can be there for others. It’s been rough lately. We haven’t been seeing eye to eye on a number of important issues, and I have been pre-occupied with starting a coaching and speaking career in middle age, still chasing an elusive dream. We’ve been at a stalemate; heels dug in. Ouch.
Tonight, there is hope.
I wonder if I would have had the realization of serving my husband first if I hadn’t invited him to watch Matt and Erin Ingold’s Metanoia Catholic Workshop Having Difficult Conversations with me. The workshop couldn’t have come at a better time. As we listened to Matt and Erin dive deep into what it looks like to respond within the Zone of Influence vs. the Zone of Manipulation, our body language softened almost imperceptibly. A nonverbal “Aha” moment of connection. The question, “What is your vision of success after this conversation, and why is that important to you?” sparked a fruitful discussion about what we each needed from each other.
I went to bed contemplating how I am showing up in my marriage. What manuals or unrealistic expectations do I have for my husband? How am I being self-centered and manipulating my way into getting what I want and neglecting his needs? What work do I need to do to be a good Catholic Mindset coach that truly lives out the Gospel? Can I let go of the outcome of my efforts?
What does God want?
Don’t get me wrong. God placed the desire in my heart to inspire others to face their traumas with courage. He allowed my trauma story to unfold and by his grace for me to come out victorious. This is just another chapter in my story. I surrender myself freely so He can be the star of the show, and I’m okay with that. It’s much more important to be known by Him, than known by many. It’s His show to begin with. For “I will bless [Him] as long as I live; I will lift up my hands, calling on [His] name” and “with joyous lips my mouth shall honor [Him]” (Psalm 63: 5.6). My desires will be fulfilled, in His time. My first vocation is marriage. All else follows that.
In the morning when we rise, my husband will have a new wife, and it will be me.
This is what God wants.
Dr. Carron Silva is a Catholic Mindset Coach and Forgiveness Guide. She teaches forgiveness as a life skill through talks, virtual and in-person retreats and accompanies women on their journey of healing from emotional and betrayal trauma. She is the author of With You Always: A journey with Jesus, a Christian Devotional Memoir detailing story of faith and healing through scripture, poetry, stories and images. She is an empty nester mom of two adult children, a son-in-law, and wife of over thirty years to Steve. As an affiliate of Metanoia Catholic Academy, Carron presents workshops to individuals and parish groups.