It was this time last year that Little Miss C became consumed by the fear that our house was going to burn down. We held fire drills. We discussed fire safety. We practiced stop, drop and roll. But none of this seemed to calm her. After a particularly intense display of worry, I asked her what she was most afraid of. She said, "I'm scared that I won't be strong enough to carry everyone out."
I didn't know when or if I'd be coming back.
J was angry and hurt. For several months, our marriage had been in crisis. It felt like life had turned upside down. He wanted to know why I wouldn't stay and fight-- how I could just run away. I remembered Little Miss C's words and an overwhelming sense of peace came over me.
"It's as if we're standing in a burning building," I said. "I've sounded the alarm. I've pushed and pleaded with you to run to safety with me. But you won't budge and I'm not strong enough to carry you out. I can't save you. I can't force you to save yourself. And more importantly, it's not my job. If I stay any longer, I do more harm to myself than I do good for you."
"So you'll just leave me to die?" he asked, incredulous. "You're saying you would choose your own life over our life together?"
"No. I'm saying that as much as I want to save our marriage, I have to let it go. I need to take care of myself and have faith that there is someone stronger, someone more capable, and someone who's job it is to help you find your safety. Because I can't do that, and if I try, we both go down in flames. I'm not the Savior."
Thankfully, J and I stand outside of the smoking ruins of our old marriage, wrapped head to toe in metaphorical gauze; shaken, cautious, but still hand in hand. It could have ended differently. It still could. We have an awfully long way to go. But we're tentatively making plans, taking one day at a time and learning to be together without burning the house down again. It's frightening and tender and better than I could have imagined.
That's what I want to share. That no matter how things have turned out or could yet turn out, I know it will be alright. I can have peace no matter what.
And so can you.