The icy air seeps through my gloves which clutch the steering wheel. I mutter under my breath as I pull the wheel with every muscle fiber in my upper body, just to get out of the parking space. The inside of his truck reeks of glue and wood and stain. The darkness of the evening hides what I know is everywhere: dust & dirt from a working man’s truck. The stick shift comes naturally, but every change of gear is a bit precarious because of everything I’m trying to balance on my short drive. A big red plate of cookies, half-way fitting on the dashboard, slides as I make my first left turn. Instinctively I grab it with my right, still making the hard left turn up-hill. I quickly remember that it is a two-handed job to turn this beast, and I shove the plate onto my lap before it’s too late. Again, I grumble at the hardship. My arms burn from making one left turn. I sit and think about him.
The icy feeling is in my heart too, you know, not just my fingers and toes. This gift called marriage is work, they told us. Eleven years ago I wasn’t sure I believed them. How can something so amazing, so right, and so beautiful take work? Doesn’t it come naturally? Don’t the feelings just fall into place? You know the answer, as sure as my arms were burning.
Sometimes the drifting is over days or weeks or months. Other times it’s from one hour to the next. Suddenly he’s there and I’m stuck over here and there’s a bridge somewhere but I’m too tired to find it. I clutch the steering wheel harder, hoping my fingers will get warmer. There’s no heat in this thing, and I keep the bad words from coming out of my mouth.
It seems impossible not to let my feelings match up with the cold. Like a game of memory, I flip them both over and stack them up beside me. Inside me. I turn them over again and again. Before the stack gets any higher, I arrive at my destination.
Warmth overwhelms me. Physical, yes, but it reaches into my soul. Friends, sisters, they are changing the game. I keep flipping over matches, but they’re the opposite of what I’ve been seeing. Love coupled with warmth. Another toasty card is matched up with care, then listening ears, then more love. The unity and power of love can not be squelched. The chill is dissipating from my soul. My heart beats faster for him.
As I walk back to the dusty, rusty truck, I’m jolted back into winter from the brief oasis of warmth I’ve experienced. Yet something has changed. Love changes us. It certainly trumps this eery, distant feeling that’s etched itself all over my heart. I quit the game of selfishness and throw my towel at the frigid feelings trying to squelch my desire. Once home, I crawl into our cozy bed and pray over his sleeping warm body. Then as if from God Himself, the bridge we needed but couldn’t see from cold and selfish hearts, opens up between us. The gap is closed. God’s holy equation of two equaling one, melts my chill hard heart into worship.