Do a New Thing

 

When old patterns arise, do a new thing.

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” Isaiah 43:18-19

Living in a transformed marriage, my husband and I shouldn’t get weighed down by our habits of old, right?

Like many others who’ve turned their marriages around, we sometimes find ourselves living in old patterns.

Tomato Cages, Revisited

A while back I wrote a post about having waited too long to install the cages to support my tomato plants:

A wise gardener would have installed the tomato cages immediately upon planting, just to be sure the support was in place before it was even needed. Waiting too long to install the cages made the work difficult and caused some damage. However, what grows from here on should be healthy and supported.

Because I was late in my efforts, getting the support in place ended up being more complicated, with some damage done in the process—but the plants seemed to be ready to move forward in healthy and stable ways.

Several months later, I’ve seen what happens to tomato plants when their support comes late.

It isn’t a pretty sight.

The tomato branches that grew after I installed the cages have grown where they should, with proper support. The tomato plant branches that had begun growing in earnest before that, however, continued to branch out, unsupported and unable to be easily contained. They had an unsupported start and continued to grow as they’d begun.

Because the plants were so large, when I finally installed the cages I wasn’t able to get them deep enough into the ground to provide stability for more than a couple months. As the tomato plants have continued to grow, the weight of the branches and the tomatoes have pushed the cages over, meaning that my tomato plants were precariously close to lying all over the ground. The weight of those early branches that grew heavy pulled hard. My poor tomato plants were in great distress.

Yesterday I went out to survey my small garden spot. I grabbed other tomato cages and installed them around the existing cages. I added metal rods into the ground for additional support. Finally, I took a spool of cotton twine and wove it back and forth between my two sets of tomato cages, crisscrossing so the tomato plants could support each other. Both tomato plants were vertical again. They looked as relieved as I felt.

My poor-looking tomato plants
Yes, these are really my tomato plants.

As I said, it isn’t a pretty sight.

But you know what is a pretty sight?

My tomatoes are! They are beautiful and quite tasty.

Every evening, I harvest what is newly ripe. We enjoy sliced fresh tomatoes just about every day.

My poor little garden may look like a mess, but it produces fruit that is just as lovely as in past years when I installed my cages at the proper time. In fact, my tomato plants this year are larger than ones I’ve had before, and they have produced even more fruit than I have seen my previous ones produce.

The Former Things, Revisited

Before our marriage began to heal, we had much growth that grew out of control and lacked structure and support.

The marriage efforts we’ve made over the past six years have grown where they should. However, the weight of those early habits that had a chance to grow unrestrained can still pull hard on us.

A few weeks ago, Big Guy and I had a conversation that was eerily reminiscent of one that happened at the nadir of our years of disconnection.

I spent a few hours in great distress, flooded with difficult feelings and questions that caught me by surprise. Did we really just have that conversation again after all these years? Have I been fooling myself to think that anything has really changed? Did I put in all that effort for nothing? What is going to happen to us now?

One of Big Guy’s comments felt like a punch in the gut that sucked the breath right out of me—and to be fair, that comment was a response to something I’d said that likely punched him in the gut. Neither of us had meant to hurt the other, but old ways of speaking and old ways of hearing had us in great distress.

I spent the majority of the evening doing that ugly crying that is silent yet cries out volumes. I felt as flopped down and sorry looking as my tomato plants.

New Things

Individually, we were each wiped out by our conversation and the after-effects. The evening had taken its toll.

But something was different this time.

This time, we each did a new thing.

I made a choice not to pull myself away from Big Guy. I let him see my pain, even as I held his hand to remind us both that deeper than the words that evening, we loved and were loved. Rather than hide myself away to cry alone, I let myself be vulnerable, saying that the words between us—the same words that had pulled us apart so long ago—concerned me. I told him that I didn’t want to lose us ever again.

Big Guy surveyed the situation. He carefully responded to my hurt, surrounding me with the knowledge of his support and love. He gave me the words I needed to hear. I gave him words, too. He kissed me. I kissed him back. We sat with our arms around each other.

We wove ourselves back together, with words and actions moving back and forth between us. Bound together by our new ways, we were upright again, supporting each other rather than being dragged down by the weight of the past.

Beautiful Fruit

It isn’t always pretty, this marriage thing. Even with support that came late and an inclination toward occasional wobbling, the fruit is a beautiful sight. The harvest is bountiful.

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” Isaiah 43:18-19

When old patterns arise, do a new thing.

Images credits|Chris Taylor

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6 Comments on “Do a New Thing”

  1. Loved this post Chris, especially this part :
    “This time, we each did a new thing.
    I made a choice not to pull myself away from Big Guy. I let him see my pain, even as I held his hand to remind us both that deeper than the words that evening, we loved and were loved. Rather than hide myself away to cry alone, I let myself be vulnerable, saying that the words between us—the same words that had pulled us apart so long ago—concerned me. I told him that I didn’t want to lose us ever again.
    Big Guy surveyed the situation. He carefully responded to my hurt, surrounding me with the knowledge of his support and love. He gave me the words I needed to hear. I gave him words, too. He kissed me. I kissed him back. We sat with our arms around each other.
    We wove ourselves back together, with words and actions moving back and forth between us. Bound together by our new ways, we were upright again, supporting each other rather than being dragged down by the weight of the past.”

    I think I long for this almost as much as the sexual intimacy that is missing in our marriage.

    1. My prayer for you is that this happens in your marriage.

      Sexual intimacy is about intimacy even more than it is about sex. Sometimes I can be deeply entrenched in an old habit, only to emerge with the realization of how very far we’ve come.

  2. I can definitely relate to falling into old ways, and have been guilty of it of late. Individually, I have a lot of work to do, and some amends to make as far as my temper getting the better of me, and me lashing out at whoever happens to be closest, which is usually my wife.

    At the same time, due to her surgery and my work schedule, we have not spent the time to connect as we should outside the bedroom, and it is starting to take a toll. Time for me to Cowboy Up, and do the right things, because I am supposed to, instead of me blaming my failures on circumstance. In your own words, Chris, it is time to stand the cages back up.

  3. Oh, Chris. You have God’s nod when it comes to making new and better out of old and hurt. It occurred to me that fertilizer also help tomato plants become large and juicy. I guess we all need a little manure to help us grow? It’s the tough parts that show you and Big Guy are on the right path. I know it hurts and hate when a rift makes the pit of my stomach fall. But, in the end you are stronger and juicier for having the opportunity to grow through the manure. Excellent words and encouragement, my friend. I loved reading this because it touched me.

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