What Marriage Really Is

I love to read marriage stuff when I’m scrolling online – all of it. The fairy tale, marriage is bliss stuff, the marriage is 50/50, marriage is 100/100, it’s tough, it takes patience, when it’s right you know… I just love to read it. Some of it I resonate with, some I shrug at the ridiculousness of. A lot of it, I see how much our culture has gotten away from the biblical perspective of marriage and how people have stopped inviting God into their lives, which inevitably makes me sad.

My favorites to read are the “real” posts about how marriage isn’t about waking up next to Prince charming aka your best friend every day. It’s grittier than that.

For me, marriage is waking up next to the person I’ve built the most with. We’re building children. We built a business. We are building a life.

Marriage is going to bed next to the person I’ve lost the most with. Jobs, a business we built, kids getting sick, even walking through a suicide attempt by one of our sons.

It’s sitting in the hospital together when one of us is ill, or when one of the kids is ill. It’s staring at test results and listening to doctors speak and trying to piece together what it all means exactly. It’s going in for an MRI, only to learn that something is different about my brain, and that it comes with complications, and knowing that I don’t face it alone. That God gave me a companion to endure the hard things with. coffee for two

Sometimes it’s the comfort of knowing that whatever life throws my way, I’m not alone. But sometimes it’s not that rosy, it’s arguing because we don’t agree how to do something major (parenting, finances, farming) and sometimes it’s wondering if he has the grit to stay. Sometimes it’s wondering if I have the grit to stay. Because it is hard to do life with someone so different from myself, but I wouldn’t really want someone the same as me. Someone different than me challenges me to think differently, to see differently, to accept that I don’t know the ONLY right way to do just about anything. There are a lot of ways to arrive at the desired result.

It’s praying, on repeat, for someone else to see something, change something, or grow. Then finally humbling myself to the voice of God and focusing on who I am becoming and letting Him focus on who my husband is becoming…and experiencing more growth together in the season that followed that moment than I even knew possible.

Marriage is seeing someone else’s sin and shame and deciding that I’ve been forgiven for too much to hold unforgiveness in my heart. It’s deciding to let go in the middle of being hurt so that we don’t heap offenses on offenses and dig wounds too deep to heal.

Marriage is sitting in a counselor’s office to ask someone else to show you how to communicate in the middle of a mess and brokenness. It’s walking in thinking your spouse sure has a thing or two to learn and walking out schooled. It’s learning to not act like a fool and put your foot in your mouth on the rare occasion that your spouse is the one schooled.

Marriage is reaching over to hold his hand because everything in life just got dumped on its head again and we have to find our new normal once more. But we don’t have to do it alone.love

Marriage is learning, sometimes gracefully, sometimes through wrestling, sometimes after stubborn refusal to yield, that we both have grit, we both have each other in mind, and we are going to face this life together. It’s learning that muddy shoes, or pants on the floor, or funny squeezed toothpaste tubes are not the end of the world. That preferences are like opinions and we all have them, and sometimes it’s my preference and sometimes it’s his preference.

Marriage is having someone to celebrate each victory with – because no one else truly sees or knows how hard that victory was fought for. Sure, our friends know, our parents or siblings know. But no one sees the in and out, day-to-day, like our spouse does. Maybe the kids, but after they’ve grown up and gone on to their own lives, it will be just us. And whiles kids see so much, they also miss so much. Marriage is about seeing past the nights we share our bed with a toddler, or hardly see each other for a second because all the kids have somewhere different to be, and seeing that when it all quiets, we’ll have each other. It’s about knowing that I don’t want to be in a house with a stranger when that all happens, so I better ask questions now, put forth effort now, no matter how tired I might feel like I am.

It’s permission to be too tired, too. It’s a peck on the cheek and an embrace and collapsing onto the pillow to sleep, with no hard feelings. It’s watching him undress after work and collapse in a heap and knowing that tomorrow there will be a shared moment in the morning, but for tonight, I will let him rest. It’s looking out for what is best for him, but not being forgotten in the mix.

Marriage is complex, sometimes complicated, and certainly worth it. My husband is my best friend, my sincerest companion. He is tender with me, but not afraid to tell it to me straight when I need a dose of truth. He is fun and he is funny and he makes me laugh. He makes sure I don’t take myself, my condition, or this life too seriously.

My husband is a gift from God himself, and I thank God for uniting us. For crossing our paths, and for connecting us. (And sometimes I ask God why on earth, too.) It’s not all good. And it’s not all bad. But there is a sweetness to walking through good and bad, thick and thin, sickness and health, with the same person, developing trust and relationship and confidence to withstand the next storm, to exclaim victory from the mountaintop, and to survive the sometimes mundane days of our lives.

Until next time,
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Selfishness Shows Up

October started rough for our family. I’m still not sure that writing about specifically what happened is the right thing to do, so suffice it to say, I’ve never been more scared in my life, and I’ve never seen God move faster or come to my rescue more evidently, ever. (And I’ve seen God do some pretty cool stuff.) It is humbling to have a front row seat to a miracle of God – knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that no human power did the work He did.

Because of the rough start of our month, I have been deeply introspective, journaling a little (not enough, honestly) and trying to really determine how to use this situation as a launching pad to serve God more faithfully, allowing Him to change my heart and mind, and move me toward His purposes. He has guarded my heart from the deep guilt that paces the edges, the voice of the enemy trying to tell lies in the midst of our crisis. But God has been faithful every moment of every day.

As I’ve been looking inward and praying, I thought my parenting would be the first, and maybe only, area where I would see a deep need to be renewed and to pursue Jesus more faithfully. And without a doubt, I am working on some very specific things in my parenting. It would take more than a blog series to write about all of it. Some day, maybe, it will be part of a book. If I ever get around to writing like I should.

This particular revelation came as a shock to me. As I thought back on the roughest days, and the worst moments, I saw my own selfishness rise and rear its ugly head. Where I saw it the most, pains me to say, was in regard to my husband.

“Go get me … xyz.”

“Run back to the house for … xyz.”

Even the countless coffee deliveries – I never once said, “Will you grab my Mister a mocha?” It’s not like I can shrug and say I don’t know what he drinks.

Some of the memories of those days are cloudy because of everything that was going on, but I don’t think I ever said, “How are you?” “Are you ok?” “Are you holding up?” “What do you need?”

Despite his tough exterior and his desire to spend his afternoons in peace and quiet (which is laughable with 7 kids), I married a man who serves me in all ways. He always looks out for what I need, for how much rest I am getting, makes sure I get a shower, makes sure I am eating. He wakes me in the morning when I snooze the alarm, he reminds me to get to bed at a decent hour. His actions and words remind me daily that I am a priority to him. And then there are those moments that he whispers how beautiful I am and he completely takes my breath away.

Then there is me – I can’t remember to order his cheeseburgers without onions, don’t match his socks, don’t even think to request a mocha on his behalf.

If you had asked me in September if I thought I was a selfish person, I may have (pridefully…oops) said that no, I don’t think I struggle with selfishness. But now, I see it plainly, and I am clearly more selfish than I even realized.

With these realizations, I am humbled by the grace of God and the gift of Jesus. I am grateful that I get a new day to try again, that the people around me love me and support me, and don’t give up on me.

To my husband….I’ll be working on it. I am so grateful for the way you love me and the millions of small, often thankless, things you do for me. Thank you for being there for me and with me through thick and thin. I love you.

Until Next Time,
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Day Two

How have you changed in the past 2 years?

What a question…day 1 – what weird thing do you do when alone… day 2 – This?! How haven’t I changed in the last two years?

I guess as I pause between typing lines, I have to acknowledge that the last 2 years, while a roller coaster in many ways, has also pointed me toward God, solidified relationships, and helped me to see many things in a clearer way.

Two years ago I knew I was carrying my last baby – 7 kids is plenty they say. I (kind of almost) agree. Especially when her royal highness wakes up too early, misses a nap, or is otherwise perturbed. 7 kids is plenty. She’s the type of kid that might make you think twice about having a second if she came first.

Knowing that she was the last of the babies I would birth and watch grow, I’ve embraced her moments more fiercely. I’ve watched with the wonder I had for my firstborn, with the wisdom I have now. It’s been a time of joy and sadness as I come to grips with what it really means to me to have ended my child bearing years.

We went from financial high to financial low in the last two years. That’s been humbling and devastating. It’s reminded me not to be too big for my britches, and that God is our provider – no matter how much we try to do it for ourselves.

I feel less patient, which is the opposite direction I want to go with this particular skill. I feel like I should be saying I’m more patient and less gets under my skin. But if I’m being honest, I feel a little more anxious now. A little more nervous. A lot less patient.

One of the best things that is different now than two years ago is how much closer my husband and I are. I don’t spend as many days watching him and wondering why he has one foot out the door, wondering why he isn’t all in. This change, while it took time and some definite heartache, is a treasure. We’re going through some stuff, and knowing he’s right beside me, both feet in, has been a huge relief.

Two years is a lot of time that goes by so quickly. To look back over the last two years makes me realize I need to work on the patience thing, and really focus on valuing each day, making the most of each moment.

I’ll be back with more tomorrow.