Posts Tagged ‘visions’

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Things are in full swing for the culmination of the restoration tour.  As we count down to 365 days, or one full year of restoration, pieces are starting to fall into place.

I’ve known since August 7th of last year that we would spend a year restoring our marriage, then ride the Tour de Cox and hold a ceremony in which we would renew our vows on August 6 of this year.  To that end, we’ve talked, loved, visited, revisited, and trained, all with the goal of healing the past hurts and building a strong and brighter future.

What hasn’t been so sure is what that ceremony is exactly going to look like.  It’s been more a vague concept than anything actually planned until more recently.  I’ve known that it would happen, but the how, when, where, etc. was kind of left up to chance.

That’s not like me at all.  I’m a planner who wants to know all the details of a thing before I take it on.  In this case, it was all part of the vision God gave me and I’ve just known that it would come together and that it would be beautiful.

Over the weekend, Ceecee and I were at Nathaniel Greene Park.  It’s a large area in south Springfield and the south creek trail, where we often run and cycle, runs right through it.

We went around to the back side of the artificial lake, where we’ve never been, and discovered some small, secluded playgrounds back there.  One has a teeter totter that’s made like a dragonfly.  Another has cement tables and chairs that are painted like bright, exotic mushrooms.  This is where we were sitting when the inspiration hit.

I made the comment that it felt like we were sitting in wonderland.  Ceecee immediately picked up on the idea and said that maybe we could have a Mad Hatter’s tea party theme for our ceremony.  I quickly agreed and we began scoping out the park for more ideas.

We also went to a consignment dress store downtown she could shop for an “Alice” dress to wear.  We found a few ideas and I have some thoughts about dressing up as the Mad Hatter, as well.

Today is the official first day of summer, although we’ve been celebrating the summer of restoration since June 1.  Yesterday we went to the Kansas City Zoo and to a tapas bar with Rachel and her boyfriend Ryan and had a great time.  Ceecee said she “felt whole.”

Tonight, we’re having Kevin, “the marriage guy,” and his wife over for dinner.  I’m going to ask Kevin if he will be part of our ceremony.  I’d like him to speak a few words, especially as related to the advice he gave me and the way he helped support us while we were separated.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I’ve been thinking about a tattoo for quite a while now and it came together today. Well, not completely, but enough that I know what I want to do now. I’ve been turning ideas over and over in my head for some time, and I’ve had bits and pieces, but I didn’t know what it would look like, and I didn’t want to move forward on it unless it would really mean something.

It’s kind of embarrassing to admit, but I’ve downloaded these two apps onto my phone that have love quotes and love poems on them and I’ve been reading them. This one said, “Don’t put my name in a heart because a heart can be broken. Put it in a circle because circles go on forever.” I loved that, because I don’t want one of those stupid heart tattoos with my wife’s name in it.

Then I read two verses in Song of Solomon that are awesome. One says, I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine,” and the other one says, “Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm.” I thought, “that sounds like a tattoo to me,” so my idea is to have that first verse going in a circle around Ceecee’s name. I think it should have something else, but I can’t figure out what yet. The thing is, I won’t do anything until we get back together and I don’t really think I should say anything about it to her at this point.

I’ve just been devouring the scriptures. I’ve been reading Proverbs out loud because it’s the book of wisdom and I need wisdom. I got to talk to Ceecee on the phone today and I told her that I had made a decision to go to the old church and confess to the pastor everything I had done. I also told her that I was going to go to my parents and tell them the truth. She seemed really shocked.

She had wanted me to talk to the church when everything was going on and I never would, Now, it’s all part of the “restoring the house” vision that God gave me. I’m just going through and trying to systematically correct, make up for, and restore all the things that I failed at before. I failed to own up to what I did and I failed to respect and honor her and now I’m going to.

I also can’t go on deceiving my parents and pretending that things are not the way they are. If things don’t work, they need to know that I brought this about and they need to hear it from me. I don’t know exactly how much I’m going to tell, but it’s important that I do this and that Ceecee knows that I’m doing it.

Ceecee was the one who called me today and I can’t help feeling that she was reaching out in some way. I really hope so. I’m not about to give up.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I got my bike fixed today and it only cost me $25. Today I rode 15 miles and it was pretty sweet. I don’t know why, but I have it in my mind and spirit that me doing the triathlon is somehow going to have an effect on our separation. It doesn’t make sense, especially now that Ceecee is concentrating on her marathon and probably not going to even be in the triathlon, but I have this mental picture that when I cross that finish line, something is going to break and she’s going to come back to me.

I dont’ know if anyone ever saved his marriage, or won his wife’s love back by running a triathlon, but I believe this, however illogical it might be. I’m going to do this. The triathlon is August 14th, the weekend before school starts. We definitely need to work this out by then or it’s going to really get complicated.

Speaking of school, a teacher friend of mine took me to lunch today. This is the second day in a row someone has bought me lunch and been there to support me and let me talk about my marriage. I told him about the vision of restoring the house and he had something really cool to add. He said that even though the original house looked really great, it wasn’t entirely adequate in the way it was built and that it didn’t just need to be restored, it needed to be added on to and rebuilt correctly.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

These last couple of days have been pretty hard to describe. I’ve been a Christian for most of my life, but I’ve had times that I’ve really believed and been sold out to it, and times that I just play the game or go through the motions. The last several years, I’ve been playing the game.

Well, lately, I’ve been getting pretty serious about reaching out to God. I mean, I need help, and I don’t know where else to turn. So I’ve had some pretty intense times of praying and trying to get right with God for my marriage. I guess I realize that Ceecee has a free will and she’s going to do whatever she’s going to do, so there’s really no use praying for God to change her, but I need to change.

Last night and today, I’ve prayed like never before, and something just broke loose inside. There’s always been a part of my heart that I’ve held onto and I’ve never really let God have it all, but for the first time, I did. I cried until I don’t know where the tears came from anymore and things happened inside me that I can’t explain other than there’s a verse in the Bible that says, “I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart.”

God must have done that because something has changed inside and He showed me things about myself and our marriage that I would never have thought or imagined. It was so unbelievably painful to go through and it took more than a day, but I saw the truth about myself in ways that hurt more than I could have imagined.

He showed me how phony I’ve been. He showed me how badly I’ve neglected both Him and my wife. Then He showed me a vision. I saw my marriage as a house. At the start, it was a really great house, but over the years, it wasn’t kept up. I should have done things that needed taken care of, but I didn’t. I just put things off and let things go, and eventually the house was run down and ugly.

Then He began to show me specific ways that I had failed and areas of neglect that have led to where we are today. The first thing He showed me was about my wife’s wedding ring. This is hard for me to write, but she damaged it when she was working at Target over Christmas back in 2007. It’s a really cool, unique ring and part of it caught on a shopping cart and bent and some of the little diamonds came out and were lost.

Not long after that, I took it to a jeweler and the guy wanted a lot of money and didn’t really seem too interested in fixing it. I told him I’d think about it and he gave it back to me in a little plastic ziploc bag. I brought it home, put it in a drawer, and it’s been there ever since. I don’t know what I’ve been thinking. It’s 2010 and she hasn’t had a wedding ring to wear in more than 2 years! She hasn’t complained and I haven’t even really thought about it.

Anyway, I went to the gym this morning with Taylor and I brought the ring with me. I figured after our workout, I’ll find another jeweler, or I’ll just take it around from place to place. I didn’t really have any plan.

We left the gym and I didn’t know where I was going and as I was turning left out of the parking lot, there was a jeweler right across the street with a sign that said “repairs” on it. I’ve been going to work out right across the street from this place for years and I’ve never noticed it. I went in, talked to the guy, and he had some great ideas for fixing it and he hardly wants any money. I dropped it off and it should be ready within a week. I can’t wait to give it to her and show her that I’m changing! I haven’t said anything about it and I’m just going to have it be a surprise.

Waking up that first Saturday together was a miracle on so many fronts.  I have had more than one person tell me, both before and since, that they have never known a couple who has gone to the place we did and come out of it together.  There were times that my best friends made their doubts evident in things they said.  They stood by me and prayed for our marriage, but also said things like to be prepared, “just in case this thing goes badly.”

While the outward miracle of my wife and I moving back in together and re-committing to our marriage was in every sense spectacular, the things taking place on the inside of each of us were even more amazing.  I was literally living the final phrase of the famous “footprints” poem.  I was being carried by my Savior and I knew we were going to be all right.  There was going to be some work left to do, and more that we would need to heal from, but I knew that if He was carrying me, He would carry both of us. 

The most wonderful miracle for me, though, was what I saw in my wife’s eyes that next morning.  There was a transparent honesty, a release from some long-standing fears, and a vulnerability and openness that I hadn’t been sure that I would ever see.  It erased all my doubts about our reconciliation working out.  Her eyes have captivated me since the first time we met, but looking into them that morning, there was a depth and a newness that was more beautiful than I could have even imagined.

It was then that our “new” relationship truly began.  It reminds me of the very final stages in the restoration of a house.  The inside is never completely finished until after the outside is done.  There are always those details on the inside that put the finishing touches on the place and make it completely ready to be lived in. 

For the neighbors, and for people driving by, the outside being finished is the signal that it’s ready.  They see it looking done on the outside, and they want to see the inside, or they wonder why no one has moved in yet.  The people doing the restoration know that it isn’t finished, and they know what still needs to be done to make it just the way they want it. 

Some people live in the house during the restoration process.  Others move into temporary housing and then come back when it’s done and ready.  We always stayed in the houses while we worked on them, no matter how big the job was.  It was difficult and beyond inconvenient (think bathrooms and plumbing here) at times.  Often it was very tedious and seemed like little or no real progress was being made.  Other times, though, a lot came together at once and you could see the transformation happen. 

Once such moment is a favorite story of ours, when a friend, who generally didn’t knock, opened the front door and suddenly backed away.  She looked around in confusion, as though she’d gone to the wrong house and didn’t know where she was.  What had happened was she had stepped right into one of those moments where a lot had changed seemingly overnight.  It really didn’t happen that quickly, there was just a lot of work that had gone on unseen before the visible part appeared.

Paul’s letter to the Philippians contains the line, “I’m convinced that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it through to completion.”  The work in our marriage wasn’t finished, but the outcome was no longer in doubt.  My wife and I were both being transformed on the inside, and those changes were going to make our future so much different from our past. 

The plan for the restoration tour began to form in my mind almost immediately.  Nothing could be done about missing the bike ride, but I knew that it was an annual event and, much like I had set the Tiger Triathlon in my mind as the time that we would get back together, so I began to envision a year of restoration leading up to the next Tour De Cox.  We had a year to heal, to grow, and to repair our past mistakes.  Where I had been working on restoring our marriage alone, we would now spend a year of restoring together, ending with our renewal ceremony after the 2011 Tour De Cox.

I’ll never forget a story I heard from two older veterans of D-Day describing the invasion at Normandy.  One was a foot soldier who was landing and attempting to take the beach.  He was under intense fire and saw his comrades falling all around him.  He said that, from his perspective, there was no way the allies could win. 

The other was a pilot providing air support.  From above, he could see how many allied troops there were and how the Germans would soon be overwhelmed by their sheer force.  He said that from his vantage point, there was no way they could lose.

I wonder how often people give up right before their victory would have come.  I wonder how many times people fail to hold on, don’t make that necessary push, aren’t willing to pay the price to get to the other side, and never know that the thing they’ve been fighting for was within their grasp. 

I don’t know if it really is darkest just before dawn, but I do know that many times, the hardest resistance comes right at the very end.  It’s like a defense in football who is backed up against their own goal line.  They know that if they don’t hold the line here, they’ll give up a score.  How sad it would be if the offense didn’t know that they only needed to gain one or two more yards and they would have a touchdown.  Unfortunately, I think that’s exactly what happens to us sometimes, when we fail to break through.

I know that some of you reading this don’t believe in God, much less angels and demons, but I can assure you they are all real, and as much as I want to be able to give you good advice and inspire you in your own relationships, I have to tell you the truth.  The truth is that God saved our marriage, and there was a spiritual war that went on throughout this entire ordeal that had to be won in order for us to be where we are today. 

My wife had fallen under the power of darkness and couldn’t break free.  Because of the evil forces that had overtaken her (I’m talking about spirits here, for those of you unfamiliar with these things), she had allowed herself to begin to live in a way that was contrary to who she really was.  Her thoughts had become confused, her reasoning flawed, and her actions contradictory to what she really wanted.  What she wanted was for us to be in love again and things to be right.  What she was doing was trying to close the door on that and drive me away for good.  It’s a form of self-destruction that people often fall into when they don’t believe they can actually get the thing they truly want.

God began to speak to me very specifically in prayer around the time that my wife told me she had begged Him to make things work between us and that they weren’t.  He began to give me exact words to say to her.  It was literally that clear and specific.  He would dictate to me exactly what I was to go to her and say.  He also told me that she would respond badly, but to say it anyway – that she needed to hear the words, and that me saying them would have an effect on her that I would only see later. 

I was afraid of being hurt more than I already had been, but I was well beyond the point of no return by then.  I also knew that she was like a prisoner of war that had been taken captive by the enemy, and even though she was blind to it, she needed me to come and rescue her.  In the spirit realm, I led a mission to free her from her captors.  In the physical realm, I went to her apartment and delivered the message.  As God had told me she would, she rejected my words and told me she didn’t love me. 

I didn’t know what she would do from there, or how long it would be before the work was done.  I just knew that I wouldn’t give up while there was still hope, and that hope came from God, not from any signs from her that she was returning to me.  I resolved that whatever she did from that point, I would continue to fight the spiritual war on her behalf and show her love when I had the opportunity.  Even though I was the foot soldier in this story, God had the view from the air, and he knew it would soon be over.

Time can play tricks on us when we’re going through stressful events.  Hours can seem like days, and days like weeks or months.  When it’s your marriage, everything is amplified, because your whole future is tied to that person and whether or not you’re going to be together.  The days, weeks, and months I spent not knowing how things were going to turn out drove me to become a better person and deal with my issues, but it also wore on me.

In the book of Job, you see the effects of time on a person’s state of mind.  Job is a righteous man who has a great life, but suffers tremendous tragedy and difficulty all at once.  His initial reaction to it all is extraordinary.  He accepts the news and worships God in spite of his loss.  As time goes by, he is unable to maintain his peaceful acceptance.  Eventually he curses the day of his own birth and begins to demand an explanation from God as to how and why this could happen.

As time continued to pass with little or no visible change to my circumstances, it became even more critical for me to stay strong by leaning on my close friends and spending as much time as possible in prayer.  There were days when I could feel myself wanting to break, but I fought through them.  I also allowed myself to cry and grieve.  That’s not the manly thing to admit, but it’s the truth, and it was important that I have an outlet to get some release for my emotions when it all became too much.

In the song, “Start Again,” by Red, there’s a part that says, “What if I let you in? What if I make it right? What if I give it up? What if I want to try? What if you take a chance? What if I learn to love? What if, what if we start again?” As I mentioned in an earlier post, the song tore me up with grief, but also gave me hope.  The line that haunted me the most was, “What if I learned to love?”

Throughout this whole ordeal, I was learning what love really was.  The hope in the song was that, if I really did learn to love my wife, and if she took that chance, things could be right and work out between us.  There were times I would lay on my bed and I could see such a vivid picture of how things could be.  I could envision in great detail how much better our marriage could be than it ever was before and how we could be closer than we had ever been. 

As desperately as I wanted that (and I would have given up everything I had to get it), I was also learning that true love means giving, not getting.  Loving someone, really loving them, is not about having them, it’s about giving them what they need, no matter what that is.  Real love sacrifices.

The best known scripture in all the Bible, John 3:16, begins by saying, “For God so loved the world that He gave…”  The apostle Paul so loved his people, the jews, that he wrote, “I would be willing to be forever cursed…if that would save them.”  That’s how real love operates.  True love is sacrificial in nature.  God wasn’t going to force anyone to love Him, but He was willing to sacrifice His son to make it possible.  Paul couldn’t save all the jews, but he was willing to give up his own salvation, if that could accomplish it. 

As I prayed, I released my wife to God and to whatever was best for her.  I knew she wasn’t following God at the time, but neither had I been and He had brought me back.  I also knew that she could very easily find someone younger and more attractive, and who made more money than me, and that it was very possible that she already had.  It was the hardest prayer to ever pray and mean it, but I told God that if I wasn’t ever going to be able to make her happy and be right for her, that I would rather that she did find someone else who would. 

Without even realizing it, with that prayer, I had learned to love.  What I also didn’t realize was, with that prayer, something shifted in the spiritual realm.  Moving forward, God began to answer prayers and move in powerful ways on our behalf.

There is one major difference between auto restoration and restoring older homes.  When a car is being restored, it’s all about original parts.  The focus is on replacing worn out and damaged parts and making the finished product exactly like the original.  No changes, no artistic license.

It reminds me of an experience I had in Spain, during a luncheon sponsored by a winery.  We were served a traditional soup, but it had been made differently than it normally was.  Our host became quite upset and had an animated conversation with the waiter about why it hadn’t been made in the traditional way.  The people of southern Spain value tradition and are resistant to change.

I was all about change at this point in my life and my marriage.  Mostly, I needed to change myself.  I was going through the process of allowing myself to be changed by God, and also learning to change with the help of my therapist and others who I opened up to and accepted counsel from.  I was listening, and that was key. 

I had never realized that my wife felt smothered and controlled.  It was a case of an unintended consequence.  I always wanted to do things for her and help her, but I was unintentionally sending the message that I didn’t think she was capable or competent.  We also had an issue regarding something she wanted that I hadn’t thought was very important.  She had talked off and on for years about wanting a tattoo, and I had always told her that I didn’t like them and didn’t want her to get one. 

She had understood me to be forbidding her and now she was intent on getting one.  It was an opportunity for me to show her that things were different, and that I would love and accept her and allow her to make her own choices.  We looked at designs and chose a tatoo artist together.  I sat with her and held her hand through the entire application.  The tatoo artist never suspected that we were separated, and I hoped and prayed that my wife was receiving at least a little bit of the love that I was desperately trying to show her.

Sometimes, the restoration of a house involves making some changes.  There is a certain amount of updating that is not only acceptable, but often necessary.  A house that was originally built with no bathrooms and little or no electricity probably shouldn’t be restored to be exactly like it originally was.  So it was with our marriage. 

I was sharing the story of the vision with a colleague and friend one day and he made a most astute observation.  He said that it sounded like the original “house” was never entirely adequate.  He pointed out that it not only needed to be restored, it probably needed to be added on to.  He hit the nail right on the head.  Even though our marriage started out as a beautiful thing, there were aspects of it that had never been healthy.  The curb appeal was amazing, but underneath, it hadn’t been built right.

Not fighting my wife over her tatoo, but accepting it and being part of it was a tangible act that showed a change in the way I responded to her.  The tattoo itself was also something tangible that showed that her life was changing.  She had told our oldest daughter that if it was going to work out between us, I would have to love all of her.  If I couldn’t accept all of who she was, we couldn’t get back together.  What a person wears, the way they style their hair, or what they put on their skin isn’t who they are.  It’s just self-expression.  True love sees the person beneath the skin and listens to the heart.

Shortly after the restoration vision, while I was trying to process my recent change of heart and mind, I received an email late one evening.  I found it curious that it said something about help for your marriage in the subject line, but I assumed that it was spam and ignored it.

By morning, my curiosity got the best of me and I opened and read it.  It addressed me by name and said that I had visited the web site and requested information.  It was from someone named Mort Fertel, whom I had never heard of, and whose website I had definitely never visited.

Nevertheless, it said I had signed up for the free help and that I would begin receiving a series of emails called, “7 secrets to fixing your marriage.”  Even though I couldn’t imagine how it was that this had come to me, I was all for any help I could get, so I read the information.

He has a program called “Marriage fitness” where he uses principles of physical fitness and training to help people whose marriages are in trouble.  It’s a completely different approach from traditional marriage counseling and it really caught my attention. 

Over the next few days and weeks, it was absolutely uncanny how much the emails spoke directly to our situation.  I began to conclude that they must really be coming from God, because this guy couldn’t possibly be that much in tune with exactly what we were going through.  (Much later, I would find out that our oldest daughter had gone through Mort Fertel’s pre-marital counseling and she had visited the website and signed me up without telling me.  As they say, God works in mysterious ways)

Mort Fertel’s approach works because it is practical and doable.  Much like Dave Ramsey helps people with their finances by walking them step-by-step through exactly what to DO, so Mort Fertel’s message is not a bunch of theoretical what-if’s, but rather very specific things to begin doing immediately.  He even tells you that when you first begin doing these things, your spouse probably won’t respond, but do them anyway because they need to be done.  They will take effect over time, but they need to be started if things are going to change. 

In a restoration project, a great deal of work goes on before it really looks like anything good is happening.  There’s a lot of tearing out and removing of damaged, worn out, and useless material.  Then there’s all the work on the infrastructure: putting in wires, pipes, replacement beams, insulation, etc.  None of that is seen from the outside, and none is attractive to the eye while it’s taking place.  In reality, the house is going to have to look a lot worse before it starts looking better.

So it can be with a marriage that is severely neglected and damaged.  There’s a lot of work that needs to be done, starting right now, but it may very well not seem like it’s getting any better for quite some time.  More likely, exposing all that damage will exacerbate the pain in the beginning.

There comes a point, though, with a house, where it seems like all of a sudden, it all comes together.  It’s almost like you drive by one day and it looks like a shambles, and you drive by the next day and you can see a beautiful house appearing right before your eyes.  The work you do at the end is the part everybody sees.  The painting, landscaping, and putting on the finishing touches is where the oohs and ahs come in, but the dirty work that went on without any recognition is what made the transformation possible.

The first step toward the restoration of our marriage after the vision brings me deep shame to admit here.  In the Christmas season of 2007, my wife took on a part time, seasonal job at Target.  Christmas help for some extra spending money.  While working there, she caught her ring on a shopping cart and severely damaged it.

The ring was, like her, very unique and special, just like the marriage it represented.  It was flashy, elegant, and it stood out.  Picking it out and buying it for her was one of the truly remarkable moments of my life.  There was a part that overlapped and extended beyond the rest of the ring.  This was the part that snagged and it was bent almost to breaking, losing some of the baguettes in the process.

Soon afterward, I took it to a local jeweler for repairs.  He didn’t seem real interested in fixing it, making a lot of excuses and asking for an exorbitant amount of money.  I returned home with the ring in a tiny zip lock bag.  I put it in a drawer and after a while, it was “out of sight, out of mind.”

You might ask yourself how a husband could possibly be as much a fool as I have been.  You would be right to ask that question.

Coming out of the vision, the first thing that was clear to me was that my wife’s wedding ring needed to be repaired, no matter what the cost, and returned to her finger.  To say that I loathed myself that day would not really capture the spirit of the moment.  I was overcome with guilt, shame, and an overwhelming sense of wondering how I could be so blind and stupid.  How could I not have known that this was unacceptable? There was no defense for my lack of caring and concern.  This was the Spring of 2010 and the ring had been damaged in December of 2007.

I didn’t say anything to my wife, but I put the bag into my pocket when I left for the gym.  I worked out, then planned to find a place to take the ring.  As I was leaving the fitness center, I was thinking to myself, “I don’t know any jewelers.  I don’t even know where to go.”

As I was thinking this, I was making a left turn out of the parking lot and found myself looking at a storefront window that said, “Jeweler” and “repairs” in large letters.  Right across the street from where I worked out nearly every day was a small shop and I turned in.  I spoke with the man and showed him the ring.

He had a great plan for how to not only fix the ring, but to make it stronger than before.  The price he quoted me was a fraction of the estimate I had gotten at the other store.  He explained that the finished product wouldn’t be as fancy as the original ring, but that it would still be very beautiful and, more importantly, it would be strong enough to withstand the type of accident that had gotten us here.

Stronger than before, and no less beautiful
That’s the picture of love.  It gets hurt.  It suffers damage and loss.  But it withstands the hardships and becomes stronger than ever.  Sometimes in trials and difficulties, it loses some of the outward luster, but it loses none of it’s beauty and even increases in quality.
I wrote a long love letter in which I expressed these thoughts and placed it with the ring on her pillow when I brought the ring home.  I hoped that she would read the words and they would reach her heart and we would reconcile that night.  Unfortunately, I badly underestimated the depth of her pain and the brokenness of her heart.  Returning the restored ring was a start and a step in the right direction, but the truth was, while she still shared the apartment with me, my wife was already gone.
Things would have to get much worse before they got better, but I now had hope and a plan.  Continue to fix what needed fixed.  Keep repairing, replacing, and restoring everything that I could find that needed my attention.  Let God show me what to do and then do it with all of my heart, regardless of whether I could see any results.