Marriage Stories: Pride Comes Before a Fall

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series Marriage Stories

NOTE from Dr. Wayne Baker: Dr. Benjamin Pratt is author of the new book Short Stuff from a Tall Guy. He writes often about the values surrounding marriage—and, this week, he is inviting our readers to share as well. Please welcome Ben back for Part 3 in this series …

PRIDE COMES BEFORE A FALL

Electricity has flowed in our relationship. Most often it has been positive but sometimes quite negative. The closest our marriage came to failing was during the tenth year. I was the founding pastor of the fastest growing church in Northern Virginia. Folks were fueling my foolish pride by predicting I would become a bishop. I averaged working 70-80 hours a week. I was so absorbed in my work that I was absent to my wife even when I was at home.

I had become full of myself!

NEWSPAPER COVERAGE OF MY HUMBLING: The headline read “Can’t Keep a Good Man Down” and the brief story explained, in part: “Two broken arms fail to keep the Rev. Benjamin Pratt of Good Shepherd United Methodist Church from his duties as he chats with parishioners. The injuries occurred during a football game with the men and boys of the church at the picnic on Sept. 10. Pratt was tripped while catching a pass and tried to break the fall by landing in push-up fashion. Until the casts come off, movement is limited to the shoulders and simple hand functions.

NEWSPAPER COVERAGE OF MY HUMBLING: The headline read “Can’t Keep a Good Man Down” and the brief story explained, in part: “Two broken arms fail to keep the Rev. Benjamin Pratt of Good Shepherd United Methodist Church from his duties as he chats with parishioners. The injuries occurred during a football game with the men and boys of the church at the picnic on Sept. 10. Pratt was tripped while catching a pass and tried to break the fall by landing in push-up fashion. Until the casts come off, movement is limited to the shoulders and simple hand functions.”

Without rain, Virginia red clay becomes like concrete. There had been a six-week drought that summer. In September, our church gathered at a sun-baked park for fun, games and a picnic. I joined in a touch football game. I was running full speed to catch a pass when I tripped over a young boy’s foot.

I plunged toward the clay concrete, reaching out both arms to break the fall. The fall broke the radial heads in both of my elbows. For six weeks I was in two casts.

I instantly became like a dependent infant, except for being able to thrill my daughters by mimicking the Cookie Monster. I could lift the lid off the cookie jar on top of the refrigerator and extract a cookie, placing it on the edge. “Gulp! Coooookie Monster!” Fun. But, not a basic survival skill.

Truth be told, I could do nothing to care for myself. I could not dress, feed, or clean myself in any way. One parishioner drew a cartoon of me exiting a Men’s Room with my head turned back to say, “Thanks.” So, I turned to Judith for care. Considering the emotional-and-relational canyon between us at that point, it was not easy to close our intimacy gap. I had ignored her, so it made sense that she was not eager to care for me in my dependency. On more than one occasion she has confessed that she was tempted to cut more deeply while shaving my neck.

Slowly, but surely, the painful, humbling fall led us to tears, confessions, forgiveness and a new, much deeper love and commitment. I came to believe that it was God’s foot that tripped me and brought me down.

Have you experienced a few unexpected falls in your marriage?

Come back each day as I share some marriage stories that might prompt your own reflections!

And, share your stories with friends …

OurValues is designed to encourage civil dialogue on challenging subjects—and, this week, we hope readers will share stories about marriage with friends. You’re free to print out, repost or share these five columns on marriage to get folks talking. Leave a comment below. Email someone. Come on, start talking …

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