Monday, September 1, 2014

It's Been One Year...

I made a promise to myself and a commitment to my husband a year ago. I have learned a lot in the last 365 days.  If you missed that episode, you are lucky this was not my year dedicated to my blog! You only have to go back a couple posts to get all the details. I would put one of those blue link things here... but I don't know how. Here's the low down of what I committed to...

I am committing this next twelve months to my husband.  For the next 365 days I commit to the following;

1. Pray for my husband everyday 
*This I am proud to say, I did.  I realized over the course of the year that I did wane in the late spring, as I usually do with any annual commitments. I had to regroup and catch the fire again to make it through the summer but I did it.  Every day I prayed specifically for him and his needs.

2. Do one purposeful thing each week just for him
*I was way better at this the first half of the year. However, this is a strength for me overall and so, I can honestly say I did not go a week without doing something just for him but toward the end they were decidedly less fun.

3. Plan 2 dates per month where we can be alone
*HA.  This one we are just going to call a fail.  I could make a million excuses (oh, wait I did, he did, we did...) but the bottom line is we do not give our relationship priority over very many other things.

4. Check in with an accountability partner once a week to keep on track
*I did this until my partner kind of dwindled off and then I made it a commitment to do a check in every Monday in my journal instead.  If I had it to do again, I would have spoken up and found a person to keep meeting with, as that made me more excited to do it and kept new ideas coming.

5. Journal my experience for posterity
 *I did this.  However, do to a learning experience I had this year, I believe I will destroy it rather than keep it for posterity.

So what did I learn?  Well, I learned that marriage is hard.  This is the part of the struggle that no one talks about and actually, a lot of people don't think you should (I know because they told me).  You hear about the beginning and you hear about the end but the middle... well, you pretty much just hear about the vacations.  Occasionally, there will be a couple who "survived" something just awful, that will get a platform but what about the trenches of the middle years or shall I call them the muddle years?  

If you want bad advice you are in luck! It is EVERYWHERE! Do you realize how many shows are about 
1. The romantic beginning  (with no follow up in real life) 
2. Can you do better? Yes, you can! (and someday they will think the same thing...)
3. Love is better the second, or third, or fourth time around! (no, you take you with you and if you messed up one relationship... odds are good you will mess up the next one)
4. Cheating isn't cheating if your destined to be together or, heaven help us, soul mates. (nope, it's cheating... you're a cheater)

Good advice however is much harder to come by.  A friend told me recently about a study that raises the idea that the reason the bond between mother and child is so strong is because so much time and energy are put into serving that child.  Service is love in action (think Mother Theresa).  The more you serve someone the closer you watch for their cues, enjoy their reactions and the closer you stay to them physically and emotionally.  What is the most common thing you hear in divorces?  We just grew apart.  He does his thing and I do mine and we live separate lives.  I can tell you that in the start of the year of the husband I was watching closely, thinking of ways to surprise and delight... I was so intent of serving him that I was... happy.  I was really happy.  I think there is something to this theory, I do.  I like the fact that they relate it to a child because they don't say thank you.  You do a million diaper changes and they can't do anything for you in return and you still love and serve them.  That is where marriage is different and yet if I could learn to look at it the same... Children do grow up in time but it takes years and their ability to give back is different with each one.  

I have a choice.  I have put in my 365 days.  I have fulfilled my commitment and I can stop if I choose.  I can say I tried, prayed and gave enough. When I woke up this morning believe me I thought everyone of these things (last night was not a high point).  I can be done... but I'm not.  I'm going to keep on praying for him everyday.  I am going to challenge myself again this year and try to up my game.  We are not in the honeymoon stage and love looks different now.  I could do better but I could do a whole lot worse (and that's more likely).  If I am going to put time and energy into a making a new relationship, why not do it with someone I have 19 years and 4 kids with (talk about having a lot in common)?  So, did we fix everything? No. Do we have a fairy tale marriage? No.   Are we where I hoped we would be a year ago... no but we are better, stronger and still together.  In the words of the great philosopher Bob Wiley "We're baby steppin'. We're doin' the work!" 

PS. For those of you who have told me in no uncertain words that I should not air my "dirty laundry", there's no need for other people to know those things or other like-minded statements (you know who you are)... no one is making you read this.  I have good days and I have bad days... get over it.  If you know anything about me, I don't do fake well and have no intention to try.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

So Which One Is True?...

My daughter asked me an honest question the other day.  She was getting mixed signals from teachers at our church.  She asked why sometimes they say there is nothing you can do to make God love you more or less and once you choose Christ no one can ever take you from His hand.  Other times they talk (at laudanum) about how you need to work for Christ and try to please Him.  They talk of how people only "think" they are saved but because their lives aren't producing enough they should question their faith. So which one is true?

So I told her what it's taken me my whole life to learn.

There is a reason God created marriage.  You see, it is a picture of our relationship with Him.  That is why we are called the Bride of Christ.  That is why there will be a great wedding feast in Heaven.  The first thing you learn about marriage is never to compare yours with anyone else's.  If God had wanted 5 billion of the same people that is what he would have created.  Instead, He made us in every size, shape, color, attitude, style and gifting.  He loves you differently then anyone else.  You have a unique relationship with Him.  If you want to please him then do just what you would do in a healthy marriage.  Find out what He likes and like it too.  Figure out what He doesn't like and try not to do it.  If you are married to a man who you know loves long hair and you cut it short, he will be disappointed that you didn't care about how he felt more then about what you wanted.  You can make mistakes or even get angry with each other and you're still married.  You can do things that delight or disappoint God and you are still His Bride.  Take time to know Him.  Don't just say Amen and walk away.  Take time to listen.  Take everything back to scripture.  If you want to know what God thinks about something, read what He has to say.  Do not listen to what other people think... listen to what He thinks.  He never changes.  He is always faithful.  He will never leave you.  If you want out of that marriage it will be you that leaves because He will not.  He promised and He keeps His promises.

God doesn't care nearly as much what you do as why you do it.  People will judge you based on what they see you do.  They will use their own rules and dishonest scales to measure the fruit of your life but it isn't theirs to measure.  God does not judge the way men do.  He looks at the heart.  You can be in the right place at the right time in the right clothes every week and if you are just there because you want to be good, you gained nothing for your trouble.  You can be in the wrong place and the wrong time and with all the wrong people but if you did it because you believed it was the right thing, God knows it, and He can still use it for good.  Just like in an earthly marriage, never compare yourself to another women and never compare your marriage with anyone else's.  You are different and your relationship is different.

 Love people.  Even when it is inconvenient.  Even when it doesn't make you look "good".  Even if it means going places that don't look "good".  One thing I can tell you is that God doesn't care how it "looks".  The Bible says to avoid the appearance of evil, not avoid the appearance of messy, socially awkward, poor, uneducated or anything that might make other people uncomfortable.  The Bible says to not make your brother stumble.  Nothing drives a person deeper into the dark then being surrounded by people who pretend to have it all together, all the time, and only love you when you are as plastic as they are.

Do not doubt your salvation unless you have stopped caring what God wants.  If you love Him and listen to His Word and work on your relationship, then you know Him and He knows you.  It's been my experience, that the more people focus on the "are you really saved" issue, the more likely it is that, they have resulted to "resaving" people, to avoid going out and loving an unlovable world full of broken people.  Love, listen, care and be you, all the other positions are filled and this is the one you were created for.