How to Make Any Relationship Better
When the Farmer comes in after 11 from the field, he carries it in on his grimy shirt, a few pounds of dirt.
I wonder if he feels it, the weight of the gritty world on his shoulders.
He finds me in a straight back chair at the window in lamp light. There are pages on my lap. He has no words.
Before I can find mine, before I can say anything, he kneels on the floor.
He takes my feet in his hands.
Without a word, he kneads in these slow circles.
Slow circles across the bottom of my foot, pressing away the day with his hand, pressing back what hurts with his earth-lined field hands.
I want to ask him about wheat and moisture and straw, about the corn in the bin and weather forecasts and if there’s rain coming across the lakes.
I want to confess sins — that I yelled at a kid this morning and it doesn’t matter now what for. That a son needed a ride into town and I sighed too loud and said not today. That I didn’t read aloud tonight and a little girl went to bed sad. I know he can feel it, without need of words, my regrets knotted right deep into me. His grace is tender, loosening… freeing.
I want to look him in the eye and say what I’m finding, all these days, in this slow circuitous way:
Everyone is always saying only one thing: I just want you to love me.
But this is what I do: I get caught up in tone and semantics, when I could just catch hearts.
I watch how he holds mine.
His thumb massages around, around, across the ball of my foot, and it’s always about that — feeling behind the words for the message.
I say nothing.
He says nothing.
We sit in a dark house, in the ring of one light, my foot cupped in his hands. How can the unlovable bear to be loved?
He looks up, smiles.
I close my eyes, hardly bearing.
But this is what love does. Love bears all things: stego in the Greek — it literally means a thatch roof.
Love is a roof that absorbs the storms.
In the downpour of hormones and teenage years and uncertainty — how does mother love bear the weight of the storm; how does she house the child in warmth?
In the drench of learning struggles and bedtime angst and childhood fears — how does mother love bear a child’s burden, listen and learn and look for ways to protect from the rain?
In the hurricane of his working world — how does a wife love her husband like a covering, saturated with the deluge, heavy with prayers?
They just need me to love them.
Love bares nothing and love bears all things — and love carries burdens that sets us all free.
Love bends and enfolds itself around another like a roof. This is love.
I long to let them all in. Why not let them all in?
I brave looking down at him.
He’s still looking up.
Large hands cupping heels, he’s massaging slow and around, protecting, pressing it all back, a safe shelter in hands.
“You must be so tired.” I hardly whisper it, not wanting to be more of a burden for him, wanting to draw my feet away — not wanting to withdraw from him.
“No…” He smiles… “Not tired… not now.”
The moment of the bearing another is like that —
Bear one another’s burdens … … Gal. 6:2
Love bears all things … … 1 Cor. 13:7