“Little pieces of you get chipped away by another person and then you shave little pieces of yourself away so you’ll fit together, and then one day you look up and you don’t even know who you are.” (Grey’s Anatomy)
This quote came from a woman (on a TV show, so not real) who had an affair after years and years with her husband. She was trying to explain what was appealing about the affair, considering she had a long-standing and reasonably happy marriage. “Little pieces of you get chipped away by another person…” It seems so… true. You feel sorry for her. You imagine yourself in 20 years, having shaved little pieces of self away, finally finding yourself by letting yourself fall in love with someone who isn’t your spouse.
There’s another quote about people chipping away at each other, from an ancient wisdom text. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). This offers a different view of relationships, including marriage. This quote contends that dullness is found in staying exactly who you are without bumping up against anyone else. Being sharp – being you, equipped to be the “you” that you were meant to be – depends on other people chipping parts of “you” away.
I know there are relationships where one person is truly losing him or herself – hiding in order to be safe or to fit another person’s box. That’s not really what I’m talking about. I’m talking about healthy relationships, where there is a wonderful friction that happens. What is chipped away from me in my marriage isn’t “who I really am” – it’s my selfishness and my weakness. It’s my sin. I’m happy to get rid of that stuff. (Well, often I’m resentful and rude in the middle of it… but I’m thankful later.)
I got angry at Justin last night because he beat me at a board game for the 12th time. His existence (and inexplicable skill at Carcassonne) collided with my pride and insecurity. Now that the dust has settled, I hope his truth knocked a little selfishness away. I hope I am a little more patient, gentle, and joyful today than I was yesterday. And in 20 years, I hope our love and friction has made us each a whole lot sharper.