By Kristi Steidley
Do you have someone in your life whom you love and care for deeply who refuses to embrace or even accept the possibility of true joy? I know what that’s like. I have always been fascinated by human behavior. In high school I struggled to pass any of my classes, except psychology. That’s probably the only class I got an A. I loved that class. There was something about it that really resonated with me.
At the age of eleven I began journaling. It was a very natural and enjoyable thing for me. I have kept a consistent journal ever since. I found it so healing to write about my thoughts and feelings. I wanted to understand why I was thinking and feeling the way I was. I wondered if others felt the same way as me.
Mental and emotional health is something I have been drawn to my whole life. I am married to a man who was taught anger was an acceptable emotion and sadness was not. He was taught to crying is a sign of weakness. It was uncomfortable for him if I would cry, or our kids. I knew he had some deep hurt stuffed down inside of him. I also had some advice for how he could heal, but he refused. He said he was fine.
(Anger is an acceptable emotion but being destructive in the name of anger is not acceptable. When we were first married, he would throw fits and say he couldn’t control it. I think I was the first person in his life to NOT BUY that story. I knew he just hadn’t been taught how. Like I tell me kids, “It’s okay to be mad, it’s not okay to be mean or destructive.”)
For so many years I would try to offer help only to be rejected again and again. It was difficult. I have many journal entries of the pain I was feeling on his behalf. I wanted so badly to see him feel true joy. It caused contention sometimes because I would get so frustrated with him. I would accuse him of being ridiculously stubborn.
It took me several years to learn to let go. It was not my responsibility to heal him. I couldn’t do that for him no matter how much I wanted to. When I finally let go of the responsibility, it was a relief in many ways. I learned to rely more on our Savior. I knew He was the only One who could heal my husband. I prayed more earnestly for my husband. I was able to see him with Christ-like eyes.
It wasn’t just one time letting go. I had to consciously choose each day to let go and turn it over to the Lord. There were many days I had to repent for getting angry or yelling at my husband to wake up. You know how hard it is to be a teacher and mentor who helps people manage their emotions, yet my husband thinks I’m “crazy”?!
It is so rewarding to help others. I am blessed to be in a position where I can share my knowledge and experience to bless the lives of others. There are hundreds and thousands of people who are eager to get the chance to tell me what they are feeling and get advice, yet my own husband avoided talking to me about his internal struggle.
Love is an emotion he has always expressed to me. For that I am very grateful! He has always been so supportive of me pursuing my goals and dreams. He knows how passionate I am about what I do, but he didn’t want to hear anything about it. He was only interested in hearing if I was happy with it, he didn’t want me to share any details. That’s difficult too. I wanted to share every detail with him about my desires.
I had to learn patience. I had to understand that he just wasn’t ready yet. I couldn’t force it. I had to wait. Waiting is not easy. I took advantage of the waiting period to continue preparing myself for the day he would ask. I don’t mean ask me, but to ask God to help him.
He believed in God, but he did not communicate with God. He said he and God had “an understanding”. I knew he was refusing to accept God’s love. I prayed every day for God’s angels to attend to my husband. I am so grateful for angels! I’m sure they could understand what I was feeling. Although, I’m sure they handled it way better than me.
I didn’t know how long it would take, but I KNEW it would happen. I just knew it! I had complete faith. I imagined how it would be. I dreamed about it. I prayed about it. Sometimes I would get so caught up in the future I knew we would have, that it would cause more frustration and impatience. That was another lesson I needed to learn.
It took several years for my husband to turn to God. He did it on his own (with a little nudging from his angels). As I look back on those years and read through my journal entries, I realize it was more for me than him. Maybe he was just waiting on me all that time. I wasn’t quite ready to embrace the goodness. I dreamed of how wonderful it would be for my husband, but I still couldn’t even comprehend the blessings Heavenly Father had in store for us.
I am amazed every day for this life I have. I am grateful every day for my wonderful husband who sacrificed so many years of struggle so I could learn the things I needed to learn. All those years I thought I had the knowledge and tools to help him. The truth is, he was the one helping me with his exercise of “stubbornness”.
My advice to you who may be struggling with a similar situation, ask yourself what it is you need to learn from this. What are you learning? What are you doing about it? What growth are you having? Express gratitude to that person for helping you. They may be totally unaware they are helping you, but you know better. Call upon God’s angels to help them. Have faith.