Read Part II
Read Part III
Read Part IV
I wouldn’t ever have thought of myself as a person who talked through movies, not before that night. Maybe it’s true that we drift through life without ever seeing ourselves the way others see us—or at least, those of us who aren’t fortunate enough to have very strong guidance. Sitting and watching a movie without speaking was an exercise in constant frustration, and an amazing education. Even as I bit back comments, I wondered at how difficult it was, at how unaware I had been of my tendency to put my two cents in at every turn. For the first time, the restriction, though it chafed, felt valuable. In just 24 hours I’d learned something about myself that I’d never known, and something that bore attention.
When the movie ended, I got up and went to pray. It was just after 8:30, and I decided to stay on my knees until 10:00 and then get to bed early again. It had been a long time since I’d invested that much time in prayer, and I knew that it was going to be a rough stretch on my knees, but I was working hard to see this sentence as an opportunity, to make the best use of the quiet time it forced on me. And, of course, after dinner and the discovery I’d made during the movie, I had a lot to talk with the Lord about.
I thanked Him for Aaron, for the clarity I’d experienced during the movie, for the will to use the time in edifying ways. I asked Him to continue to show me hard truths, to give me the strength and the willingness to see and accept and address them, to guide Aaron as he guided me, and to reward him for showing me the truth. And then I simply listened.
In bed, I was much more at peace than I’d been the night before and I slept almost immediately, not even stirring when Aaron joined me an hour later.
The next few days were very much the same. I was more productive. I spent more time in prayer. I gradually conditioned myself to meet my husband’s eyes, not because I was no longer ashamed but because I was learning to open myself to him and share my shame. And yet, I often felt that I struggled against invisible bonds, often actually opened my mouth to make some insignificant comment before I caught myself and closed it again, often walked toward the computer before realizing it was off limits and turning away. Each time, I felt like a child squirming in time out.
Gradually, though, I began to notice something interesting. Almost everything that I had such a burning urge to say turned out, on closer examination, not to be particularly important. Some of it was unnecessarily sharp, altogether better left unsaid. The world, it turned out, wasn’t suffering in the least because the perpetual motion of my mouth had been stilled. Of course, that realization was more painful than the restriction. It forced me to think about what I would do when I was allowed to speak again. If I’d discovered that so much of my speech was unnecessary, unhelpful, even counterproductive, then I couldn’t in good conscience pick it right back up when the month was over. Would I have to examine everything that came to my mind for the rest of my life, screen it and decide what was truly worth sharing?
To be continued