When you’re caught in a heavy rain, a true torrential downpour, you’re incredibly grateful for that umbrella you thought to pack. Providential you checked the weather this morning and happened to have a massive umbrella in your car, right? As you walk down the street during the storm, the rain hits the umbrella and streams down the sides of it. The wind still manages to send a bit spraying your way and your shoes are wet but by and large you are protected. The worst of it is kept from you and when you arrive at your destination you look pretty close to the way you’d intended. Some of the people showing up are so soaked they appear to have showered fully-clothed. They were without any shelter from the weather.
I was talking with a friend recently who is going through some life storms right now. He mentioned how he didn’t know what he would do without his wife’s love and support. I completely understood what he meant—she is his "umbrella". She’s not able to speak and make the storm go away or even lessen. She’s human after all. Yet by the way that she shows up to his needs—caring for and encouraging him—she reduces its effect on him. She helps deflect some of the downpour. She says with her actions, “I’m here. I love you. I will take on what I can to help. Let me share in your burden.”
This is all so familiar not because I am inside their marriage but because I was in a marriage like that, once upon a time. Chris, more often than not, was my umbrella. He sacrificed greatly of himself (and often) to be safety and shelter for me. There were times when it was my turn to do the same for him as well and I believe he would say that I rose to the occasion. In any healthy relationship there must be a reciprocal cycle…
One of the tricky things about my life now is that I used to know exactly who to run to when everything in life got hard and overwhelming. I’m not talking about Jesus—because that part has remained constant. I am talking about the physical human being who I can go to for a hug or a calming word... I have so many people that love me, that I love in return, and that I trust. I am grateful to be blessed in that way. The problem is, who should I go to when things get to be too much? Whose turn is it for me to emotionally burden? Do I talk to my mom, my surrogate dad, a friend? Who is likely to pick up their phone in my moment of crisis? Who will want to listen to me in this not so happy moment?
When you’re married like I was married—to someone that’s your best friend—there was nothing to consider. I wanted to talk to Chris first, about anything and everything. If I was hurting, it might be enough for him to hold me in his arms and say nothing. There were moments when he would pray for me, my hand in his, asking the Lord to intervene on my behalf. Then there was the simple phrase, “I love you,” which I knew I could take as his promise that he would literally lay down his life for me if it came to that.
Chris was my umbrella. Only Christ Jesus can remove the storms, but for many years he used Chris to help me get through them. I miss the simplicity of that.