Accidental Marriage Book Club: Chapters 12-14

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Welcome to the Accidental Marriage Book Club! We’re reading Accidental Marriage, by Roger Thomas.

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One of the things that characterizes our lives as adults is that we tend to think we have this all handled. We don’t need help because we can handle things on our own, thank you! The reality of adulthood, however, is a much more interdependent thing. If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community to be a married person. None of us is an island, though often we’d like to believe it. We set up our protective walls and moats to isolate ourselves and keep our problems private, but our actions – trials and triumphs – affect more than just us, and really, more than just our families. Like a causeway or a land bridge, others come to our rescue, often from the most unexpected places. And it takes some wisdom and humility to know when to lean on that tenuous connection to the mainland.

As I read about Scott and Megan leaving everything behind and striking out for “home” I was sharply reminded of my own journey “home.” I remember the day I called my mom and asked her if we could move in for a few months, just until we could get back on our feet. I convinced myself that she needed us as much as we needed her and that this would be okay in the end. We could help around the house, prepare meals and help clean. But, through an unbelievable chain of events our “couple of months” is now closing in on three years. Never in my wildest imaginings would I have expected to be 46 years old and living at home with my mother.

When Scott and Megan find themselves at the bottom of the embankment –car wrecked, baby crying, cold and dazed –I knew that spot immediately. I have been there.

Fiercely independent and not afraid to cut our budget to the bone – including taking the bus or walking rather than driving, making meals from scratch, and buying clothes at second-hand shops –I never imagined the tectonic economic shift that would swamp our little island and leave us swimming for shore. But that’s exactly what happened. I realized about three months into our stay at my mother’s that we weren’t going anywhere soon.

When the first responders arrive on the scene and Helge of Big Springs shows up, I knew those people, too. For years, I had been Helge. I had been the person who could fix any situation.  A little rough around the edges, but well-connected and not afraid to call in a favor, I could be found anywhere people needed me. Now, like Scott, who has been the “fixer” so far, I found myself having to step into the uncomfortable role of the dependent. Other people didn’t need me; I needed them. I had to learn to rely on my parents again. And their friends, people who didn’t even know me, took me into their circle, prayed for me, listened to me, and helped to make me whole again.

Admitting defeat was so hard. Some days as we drive back and forth to work or the store I think about how much I wish I had my own house again. I miss having my children and friends around me. I miss cooking for them and conversing with them. I miss having all my books and my kitchen tools. It’s those silly things that actually bring tears to my eyes. Losing that independence was a big thing for me, and although I wish that it had less to do with space and things, the truth is that those things were important to me.

When Scott lays awake wishing that he could get relief, get away, and be anywhere else, the emotional baggage of knowing that he’d thrown away a chunk of money that could have saved them in this situation, weighs on him. Sometimes the things we carry with us on our journey are not material, but emotional.  I know that spot, too.

There are nights when I wake in the middle of the night and wonder if we’ll ever get the balance right.  Maybe I should have made better choices. Maybe I could have saved us had I gone to work sooner. Sometimes I indulge in the pie-in-the-sky, perfect job/perfect house dream of “If Only…”.  But the truth is that every good thing that has happened to me in the last three years has been so much bigger and so much better than my wildest imaginings. The plans that God has for me and my family are more wonderful than any I could have dreamt up. It’s in these moments of revelation, then, that I find that surrendering to God’s will is where I will always find my greatest strength.

Stepping out of the driver’s seat and into the cold water, and letting someone else run the show takes a great deal of strength.  It’s a lesson that Scott and Megan are learning here in these chapters and one I have certainly learned in these past few years, too.

To Ponder, Reflect, and Discuss:

  1. What things (material and emotional) do I hang on to and keep from God?
  2. What does it mean to me to be an adult or a child? How are we both at once?

Feel free to comment on your own thoughts from this week’s reading, your impressions and reflections, and/or your answers to these questions.

Next week, we’ll cover Chapters 15-16. For the complete reading schedule and information about our Book Club, visit the Accidental Marriage Book Club page.

Copyright 2014 Katie O’Keefe

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About Author

Katie O’Keefe, mother of two and Oma of two, is a great fan of nifty new tools and dusty old books. After working for 25 years as a musician, Katie decided to go back to school and graduated with the BA in Philosophy from Ohio Dominican University in 2015. You can find more of her writing at The Backs of People’s Heads and Baby Faces.

1 Comment

  1. Sometimes we’re so busy being on top of things and handling matters that there’s no room for grace in our lifes. Our attitude toward God is, “Okay, Lord, I’ve got your number – in fact, on speed dial. I’ll call if I need you, but until then, I’ve got things covered.” Sometimes we need to be sharply, even violently, disabused of the illusion of self-sufficiency before we can even be open to the workings of grace in our lives. The accident that Scott and Megan have, on top of the other trials they’ve endured, is another movement to strip them of this independence – even before they knew it was a problem.

    But no sooner is this done than the Lord moves His own resources into the void, in the form of Helge Sykes. I had one reader ask me, “Is Helge an angel?” In the sense of her being a spiritual being, no – she’s just a human woman. But in the sense of being a messenger of grace, she is. Undoubtedly somewhere in their lives Scott and Megan have both encountered people who act out of simple love, pure charity, but it’s been easy to ignore them, or attribute their motives to other things. For most of their lives the primary motive for human interaction has been mutual benefit – a you-scratch-by-back-I’ll-scratch-yours exchange that was essentially economic, even if the medium of exchange wasn’t money. They could always trade what they had for what they wanted.

    But in that muddy Nebraska field, they had nothing to trade. Anything they were going to get was going to be pure grace, unalloyed charity. They’d have to accept it because they had no choice. It is difficult, and under the stress Scott is tempted to resort to old habits and behavior patterns. But love holds him in place, and love compels him to accept what he perhaps not have accepted before.

    He is beginning to mature.

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