Steam started to stream out of the hood of the car as the radiator gauge on my dashboard blinked obnoxiously, not realizing that we were already aware of the hot temperature and were doing our best to remedy it in the stop and go traffic on the downtown streets that hot April afternoon. The clock ticked closer to the the beginning of the concert we were trying to make it to as we finally made it to the parking garage at the performing arts center. “Are you aware that your car is smoking?” the parking attendant asked. Oh no, we were actually completely oblivious and the panicked expression we are wearing are just how how our faces were made. We wove back and forth through the packed lot until finally reaching the roof and finding an empty spot. We pulled in, turned the car off and watched the smoke billowing out of the hood. Getting out of the beat up Audi that should have been retired years ago we jumped out to watch the entire container of coolant dump on the ground and begin trickling through the rest of the garage.
We were late to that concert.
And we’ve been late to other events. And have had frequent car trouble. And wondered how to make the money stretch over an entire month while being between jobs and making a move. And struggled to find a place to live that fits our needs. And had many late nights and early mornings that made our patience run thin. And struggled with opposite schedules that made it hard to connect during the day. And come against numerous personality differences and communication mishaps.
Peace, in the common understanding of the word, hasn’t always been the dominating ambiance of the Oharah home this first year and a half of marriage. The quiet serenity of good will and happy faces that people think of when they think of a peaceful life is not always being captured in our day to day lives. Real life happens. Responsibilities hang thick. We fight our finiteness and struggle against the flesh.
Does this mean we don’t experience peace in our marriage? Well if by peace you mean an undisturbed day in which everything goes as plan and no problems arise – absolutely not. But as I’ve been pressing in to understand what shalom peace truly is I would say our marriage is filled with peace.
Far too often in marriages and in all relationships keeping peace is the emphasis and the aim is to keep any trouble from rising to the surface. Confrontation, hard problems, and distasteful circumstances are disliked and so we attempt to smother them. Like beach balls pressed under water it is only a matter of time before the peace is broken completely and problems pop up everywhere we look.
It is my aim in all of life, specifically in marriage, to be less concerned about keeping peace but rather put my efforts into making peace. Rather than pushing the beach balls down we let them rise, one by one, examining them, understanding them, and letting the air out as we sort through the problem. It is messier. A whole lot messier. Harder conversations have to happen, and solutions have to be sought out for rather than ignoring issues. But the authenticity and wholeness that is achieved is invaluable.
We have a good time, my husband and I. We laugh a lot, we adventure together, we brainstorm and dream. It’s not all problems, especially in this sweet season. But we are also committed to a peace that lasts. And passivity doesn’t work for that peace. That peace requires a diligent effort.
Oh and don’t worry about that car. It was a typical occurrence. I’m eagerly awaiting the day when nothing broken applies that car. But until then it is another opportunity for us to work through the problems it presents for us as we make peace between us despite our circumstances.