Tuesday, October 18, 2016

For My Readers

When I first started this blog five years ago, I made it a point to reply to every comment I would get (since there really weren't that many).  Since then, I've lost sight of replying to all my readers' kind words, and I apologize. That is something I am pledging to do better on from now on. So I have spent the last few hours going back through all the comments you all have left over the last few years and replying to every single one. Because every single one of you have encouraged me and made this blog possible. So thank you for reading. Looking forward to many more years of sharing life and marriage with all of you! 

A Beautiful Inheritance

One of my mentors used to always say, "There are only three ways to learn something: by experience, by watching someone else do it, or by reading about it." I used to question her philosophy, but now I wholeheartedly agree.

I grew up during the Girl Power movement. I remember rocking out in my room to Imani Coppola as she sang "need no man to pay for anything." Alanis Morissette, Gwen Stefani, and The Spice Girls all showed my young, wide-eyed self that to truly be a strong, independent woman like them, I would have to hide my heart from every man. They may not have voiced it outright, but the message they sent my tender heart was clear: marriage and family was designed by men to keep women at home and from reaching their full potential. I was free to date and sleep with any man I wanted, just as long as I didn't get my heart stolen in the process.

My home life didn't help things out. My parents never showed each other affection, physical or otherwise. There were no soft words spoken, no loving glances exchanged, no sweet kisses hello and good-bye. What there was was plenty of arguing, passive-aggressiveness, and disrespect. All my friends had divorced or abusive parents. I loved my parents (I still do) but there was no hope for me to grow into a happily married woman.

Years later, when my mentor first shared her learning philosophy, I realized it was perfectly true. I had a great marriage now because I had either seen people have great marriages or read about great marriages.  Starting in high school with my youth pastor and his wife, I started being around married couples more often, and seeing how different their marriages were than my parents'. I watched them kiss hello and giggle together as they shared a drink or give each other a pat on the tush. They had fun, they never raised their voices, they said I'm sorry, they held hands everywhere, they kissed good-bye. I started longing for that kind of relationship in my own life. So I started reading books. Bible College for me was just as much learning to be a real woman as it was learning about Jesus. There I was introduced to authors and missionaries and pastors who loved the Lord AND loved their spouses. I had never known that you could do both simultaneously! I was learning how to be a sold-out Jesus lover and in the process He was changing my heart. I was learning how to be a good friend, daughter, sister, and future wife. I was having my eyes opened to how dysfunctional my own upbringing was. I was learning how to share my opinion without being disrespectful, how to see the other person's point of view, and how to see the best in each person. I was learning to see the best in myself. For the first time in my life, I was being told that I didn't have to hide my heart from others. And it was the most freeing and wonderful thing!

I want to keep sharing my mentor's philosophy with everyone in my life. Dear readers, if you want to learn something new and change your life and change the lives of those around you, you're going to either have to experience it, read it, or see it happening. Since most of us aren't experiencing the life and marriage we want (yet!), I challenge us to seek out those who are. If we can't find anyone in person, than let's read about the lives we want to have. Let the stories and examples of others inspire us and teach us. Let their advice take us step-by-step through the things that no one else has taught us. There has been enough complaining about how our lives or marriages are not what we were hoping they'd be. Let us do the hard work of learning and changing so our children won't have to.

Kudos to you mom and wife friends who have already been doing this! You're my hero! You are making a way for your children and grand-children to walk through some day. You are giving them a beautiful inheritance!

Thanksgiving 2013--Two families and three generations! 

Check out my Resources Page for books on dating, marriage, and singleness. Also check out one of my favorite teacher on love, marriage, and parenting: Danny Silk for e-courses, seminars, and his awesome book Keep Your Love On

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A Beautiful Exchange--Part Three

When all this started, I spent two weeks in bed unable to move much or even listen to loud noises, since almost everything would trigger a panic attack.

While I lay there for those two weeks, I felt the Lord telling me to share my struggles with others, especially those I trusted to pray. It was not easy. To admit to another human being that I was too weak to get to the toilet without help is so embarrassing! And worse was to admit that I had no answers for what was wrong. But instead of blaming me for something I was not doing or telling me to try this remedy or that, they encouraged and sympathized and best of all prayed with and for me. Middle of the afternoon or middle of the night, if I felt a panic attack coming, I would send my trusted few a quick text to pray and I could immediately feel peace in my heart. The best part was that it opened up my friendships with these few friends in a way I couldn't have imagined. My need gave them a way to show me their love. I was giving them the opportunity and privilege to serve me in a way they had never been able to do before. 

I had never truly felt comfortable sharing my needs with others. I still somewhere inside believed that even my closest friends should see only the me that was prospering and happy. While I am usually an optimistic person who loves to help others, I hadn't seen the full need I had in my own heart. 

This seems to be one of the main themes the Lord has been working in me during this time. I love to give and serve, but I had been giving so much without letting others give back to me. So suddenly I found myself unable to give anything and having to depend on others. My husband especially for day to day things, and my friends and even strangers. I had people I just met making me meals, letting me sit on their couch to rest, or offering me water. I had friends sending me cards and notes and letters and checking up on me each day. It was strange and new to me, but so wonderful. I cried almost daily, not because of my ailments, but because God was showing me how much I meant to others and how much they loved me. I had no other choice but to let them love me and I could feel how much my heart needed their love. 

All work is more fun together!

Looking back on this past year, I am seeing that so much of what caused this panic stuff to happen was the built-in belief that I could and should handle everything myself and be responsible for the happiness and well-being of everyone around me. And the added belief that I should be able to handle my own problems without help from anyone else. I had been living like this for so long I didn't know how to live anyway else.

There were other things that were also involved in the anxiety I was experiencing and I'll talk about those in another post. But for me, feeling and being alone and isolated was a big chunk of what was wrong. And opening up, becoming vulnerable, and letting a trusted few help me was a huge part of my healing. 

For all those whom I know and have shared with me their own struggles, thank you for doing so. May you know the peace and comfort and healing that comes from letting go and letting others see you in your weakest moments. 

We need others to help us do
what we can't do alone.