I’m a very unpleasant person for about three months out of the year. I hear myself, and I think “Wow, I’m annoying.” I wouldn’t want to live with me. Why? Because I hate summer. The heat and the ever-present sun grate on my psyche. I grew up in tropical latitudes, where the sun never stays out past 6:30 p.m. I will never be convinced that it's OK to have daylight at 9:00 p.m.
Poor David married me right as the days started getting longer. Since we got back from the honeymoon, the bulk of our conversations have revolved around my discontent with summer. For about two weeks in June he had to put up with a daily feud I had with an obnoxious bird outside our window. The insufferable little creature would jump around shrieking, and not even David’s assertion that it was a mother bird protecting her babies diminished my loathing for it. I kept hoping the neighbor’s cat would eat it, but the fat little feline proved to be a lousy predator.
I’ve tried to be a better man—last night I didn’t use the words “hate” or “summer” until right before we went to bed—but there’s no denying that this is a season of imbalanced grace in our household. I’m receiving way more than I’m giving.
People say the first year of marriage is often difficult. So far, I think David and I have had pretty smooth sailing. We haven’t had any serious fights or major arguments. We’ve adapted well to living together, and we don’t seem to get on each other’s nerves. But when I hear myself going on and on about how I wish the sun didn’t rise so early or set so late, I can’t help but think that the smooth sailing has mostly been thanks to my husband’s long-suffering.
Playing with the ring on my finger, thinking of how gracious David has been, I‘ve been wishing we’d gotten married in autumn instead of spring. I wish our introduction to married life had been in winter, when I’m actually nice. But maybe this trial by fire is for the better, and maybe I’m being harder on myself than I should be. Franciscan friar Richard Rohr writes:
“The only perfection available to us humans is the ability to include and forgive our imperfection. But the ego doesn't want to believe that. The ego doesn't want to surrender to its inherent brokenness and poverty. Yet the truth is, realizing your imperfection is the beginning of freedom and grace. There is such freedom in no longer pretending to be something we're not.”
I hear David tell people that I’m easy to live with, but I have trouble believing it. In my head, I’m a boring nag who never wants to do anything. I feel like I have no energy, and even the slightest threat of heat is enough to make me want to stay home with the blinds closed all weekend. How can someone like me be easy to live with? What David's grace is teaching me is that perhaps my imperfections are magnified in my head. Maybe he really does mean it when he says he likes living with me.
No marriage and no relationship is ever going to be perfect. There’s no such thing as perfect timing either. My summer moodiness has allowed David to show me grace, and his grace is in turn helping me forgive myself for my bad mood. It has also led me to seek explanations for my moodiness, and find ways to mitigate it. And that perhaps, is the biggest benefit of relationship: The light it shines on your imperfections allows you to embrace them, understand them, and by receiving grace you’d deny yourself, work on them.