10 Days.

And on the 10th day, Justin realized how selfish he was. Actually, it happened much, much quicker than that. For both of us really. You see – when you take two intelligent, dominant personalities together, you don’t always get butterflies in your stomach and warm, fuzzy feelings. Although we still do, frequently.

The leader of my accountability group at Freedom KC said, “You need to get some callouses on your knees.” Of course, what he meant, is that it was time to pray. And it has been. Time to pray more than I ever have before.

I’ve learned that it’s so easy to get angry, simply because certain things aren’t being done the way that I’m used to them being done. Or because something is inconvenient. For example, I’ve been trying to find some time to myself basically since we got back from the honeymoon. I absolutely love her with my whole heart and I thoroughly enjoy the time we get to spend together, but it’s 1,000% necessary for me to break away and do my own thing from time-to-time and 9 days in (yesterday), that was being threatened as I planned on doing it today. My brother’s car was experiencing issues and I was going to have to be his chauffeur for the first couple hours of the day and then Allie asked if I’d go grocery shopping if she gave me a list. (The easier of the two tasks, obviously.) But I let it noticeably change my mood. I needed to write and do classwork and wanted to read. All beneficial, good, healthy tasks that I’d been unable to invest in much at all. But of course, having food for dinner is as well. Life is a balance and I’m not very good at it yet.

So here I am in Starbucks, selfishly writing. And I’ve found myself faced with this reality of “is it selfish or is it necessary?” I’ve heard it said before that you can’t take care of another person if you can’t take care of yourself and last night as I collapsed on the living room floor after running errands all day long I felt myself reach the end of my reserve tanks. I was spent. Nothing left, I climbed into bed and Allie followed suit. What followed was a loving and warm conversation as we requested forgiveness and were forgiven, spoke kind words over each other, expressed our feelings, and then prayed together. Shortly thereafter, we were both out cold. So I’m here, neglecting husbandly duties for the sake of myself, but for whatever reason I’m confident I’ll be a better husband this evening if I take this time for myself this afternoon.

What my leader said is correct. Allie and I have both never prayed more in our lives. When conflict arises, we call a metaphorical timeout and spend some time praying. It helps us remember that Jesus is Lord of us and we are not. Helps us remove our selfish desires from the equation and objectively decide together what is best for US, as a UNIT.

United, we’ll stand. Divided, we’ll fall. 10 times out of 10.

I believe I used this illustration in my “I Decided” blog the day before the wedding. But it stands true and I’ll bring it up again. Allie and I both have baggage. I’d equate it to carrying our suitcases through the airport. Fulfilling my sorority girl coffee-order stereotype, I’d packed one bag more than her and she’d helped me carry my luggage when my hands were full with other stuff. In the same way, there have been moments where both of us have felt burdened by all of the baggage that we carry in our own hearts and lives. Mostly insecurities. Things about how we look, whether or not we’re measuring up, if we’ll make a good husband or a good wife, or how we’ll manage to keep alive the things that make our hearts passionate, fiery and powerful as individuals, yet build and maintain the essential uniformity that binds us together in union.

We’re both learning that we can’t let the other sink themselves to the bottom of the ocean with the weight of their own expectations.

Which brings me to something else I’m learning. It’s the concept of projection. So let’s say that I’m feeling some relational tension. Allie and I are both sort of ready to spar with one another. You can sort of sense that snarky right-jab coming your way and you get on the defensive, ready to fight back for your dignity, for SPARTA! You get the idea. We know it’s silly. You know it’s silly. In the end, the disagreement was never worth all the hoopla anyways. But there we are, tension building. And I’m really feeling it, right? Because I’m a feeler. And I’m emotional intelligent. And I’m CERTAIN that she’s mad at me because I’m not living up to her perfect, unrealistic expectations for me. But notice there’s one thing missing from the equation…Allie’s actual expectations. What’s happened is my mind has taken my own unrealistic, burdening expectations for myself, and then placed them unfairly onto her. I’ve put words into her mouth that weren’t even there.

We’ve both witnessed this unhealthy phenomena take place. During a conversation in her Dad’s truck on the way to pick up a FREE QUEEN SIZED BED (THANK YOU, JESUS!) we started a healthy discussion about our own unrealistic expectations. And how if we continued to hold onto those unhealthy burdens then we’d continually feel as if we couldn’t breathe, as if we were sinking to the bottom of an ocean. Defensive and unaccepting of the other’s help, they wouldn’t be able to lift us to the surface and we’d allow our relationship to fade into the apathetic oblivion of the ocean floor. Thankfully, we’re choosing every day to not go that route. We always make it back to the surface and swim toward the Heavens.

Whatever it takes. Forever and always. Allie and myself will fight for, serve, protect, and preserve our relationship. “Better together, always forever, ’til death do us part.” I said it then, I’ll say it now, and I’ll live it out for the next 60+ years.

Speaking with her father at the Rehearsal Dinner the evening before the wedding I mentioned how nervous I’d been about my vows and how I’d rewritten them probably three different times. In his matter-of-fact manner he said, “Well just remember it’s not your words that’ll matter – in the the end, it’s your actions that will count.” That being said, I’ve taken the time to write the words and now it’s time to go live it out. I’ve got some stamps to buy, Valentine’s gifts to find, cleaning to contribute to, and work to return to wholeheartedly tomorrow. Pray I do it all well.

Marriage has been and will continue to be the most beautifully hard thing I’ve ever taken part in, but I’m so thankful for the opportunity God has given us within it. An incubator for personal growth and development as a unit, marriage will be a place where we individually have to take ourselves to the cross to die to ourselves daily and to live for the benefit of the other person. But it’s there that we’ll find our fulfillment and joy. It’s there on the living room floor, totally spent and empty of self, that Jesus swoops into the room and speaks through my wife’s gentle words into my heart. It’s those resilient tears. That gentle touch. That powerful laugh and smile. It’s giving in to loving without reserve. No reserves. No retreats. No regrets. We’re all in for each other, and it’s the most powerful thing I’ve ever experienced.

Humbled And Grateful,

Justin Meyer

mountains

#TheWedding

Let’s start from the beginning. My best-friend and I have been married for a little over a week now. Today is our 10th day of a covenant relationship that has blessed us and our communities deeply already.

To those of you that came as far as Western Kansas, Nebraska, backwoods Arkansas, and even Florida to spend a few hours on Saturday with us, we want to Thank You. Having all of you there as witnesses to our commitment to one another really blessed the hearts of both of us. It was your presence, personality, and depth with which you invested in your interactions with us that had my bride and I reflecting on how the wedding had “been a dream.” That my bride’s “dream-wedding” occurred and managed to stay mostly within budget leaves me forever thankful to her gracious parents generous investments, my parents support, and everyone that came. (But enough thank you note material, those will be written in due time.)

Allow me to reflect on the day and summon some of those deeper emotions real quick. If that’s not your thing, then feel free to pass on this blog and the next few to come. It’ll be mostly reflection, emotional processing, and a sort of self-awareness tool for me. But if you dig transparency, authenticity, and like to learn from other’s lives, then keep an eye on me over the next few months. I forecast some serious growth.

It’s 5:30PM and my nerves have hit an all-time high. I run to the restroom to take a nervous poop (hey – you’ve been there too) and then make my way downstairs toward the front. As I do, of course I run into people I know. “Ya nervous? How ya feeling?” I barely acknowledge them as I’m 100% inside my own mind at this point and I break free from the crowd and hide myself in a closet next to the stage that controls all the lights. Bryce’s wife had brought McDonald’s Frappe’s for us and I sipped on the sugary, frozen coffee to ensure I had enough blood-sugar to not faint on stage. About as soon as I calmed myself and steeled my nerves, the pastor walks in and prays over me. Then Joseph (my best man) and I take the stage with the pastor. I stand toward the front and look forward. All is silent. The music starts playing and the bridal party starts proceeding forward.

6:05PM – My bride makes her way down the grand staircase. The audience rises. My heart jumps into my throat like an Olympic high-jumper. My heart starts beating fast with adrenaline as everything finally feels real. (Leading up to this moment, I kept speaking of how surreal everything felt. As if it were too good to be true. But now. Now, it was true. It was real. It was happening. There she was. And she was beautiful!)

6:07PM – My bride is toward the front and I meet her father down at the bottom, along with our marrying pastor. The pastor starts saying some things but I’m barely paying attention. I’ve locked eyes with Allie as if we’re seeing each other for the first time. A few tears that refuse to be contained make their way into my eyes and threaten to stream down my cheeks but then I’m back in the spotlight as Robert (Bob) Robitaille, her father, places Allie’s hand into mine and I escort her up on stage with me and the pastor.

I’ll be honest – from that point forward, I barely paid attention to Pastor Tom. Great guy. Great message. It was actually one that in hindsight we will have to get the notes to, as he was talking about getting to build a home together and how much hope, faith, and love we could fill it with if we so choose. He spoke of our ministry being one of reconciliation, which is something I feel God has placed on my heart and burdened it with and something that feels as if it just isn’t going to go anywhere so I might as well make a move with it.

What I do instinctively remember is reading my vows to Allie. I printed them off because I’d tried the whole impromptu words during emotional times thing before (with the proposal) and I’d been nearly mute – speechless in the moment. In fact, as my brother Tyler recalls, the words didn’t actually come until I started praying and dancing with her outside after she said, “Yes!” It hadn’t taken my words to win her over, just the simple action of getting on one knee. That’s all she needed to know my heart was ready. Whoops – I got sidetracked! The proposal was awesome. (Go back and read #TheProposal if you haven’t already.) I promised to always love her and to kiss her good morning and good night. I spoke of hope and of never joking, teasing, or threatening divorce. I threw in a joke about how I’d watch all the Christmas movies she wanted and then I told her that we’d tear down the walls in our hearts that keep us from true intimacy. Most importantly, I promised to always take our burdens to the cross. And friends, I have never prayed more in my life than I have in the first 10 days of our marriage. I need Him. She needs Him. We need Him.

Allie teased that it was hard to follow-up a writer and then proceeded to do so in heart-melting fashion. She roasted me a bit about my sorority girl coffee-order (but we all knew that was coming) and then spoke of how she’d always love me, build me up, and care for me. She has, and she will. I don’t doubt that for a minute.

The pastor wrapped things up and let us kiss each other. A shiny new ring on both of our ring-fingers. Hearts full. Eyes filled with joyful tears. We half-walked, half-sprinted, half-danced (I typically leave the math to her as you can tell) down the aisle and back up the stairs.

The rest of the evening proved to be just as powerful. As friend after friend and family member after family member spoke kindly of both of us as individuals and the hope and power they felt resonated in our marriage. Two conversations I remember in particular was one where a slightly older married couple that I’ve always looked up to mentioned they were super proud of us for including not allowing divorce to be an option in our wedding vows and that we promised not to joke about it. They thought that was a major problem in a lot of relationships. It was empowering to hear those words of affirmation and reassured us that it was a good and necessary move in guarding our words. And the last was a friend and former coworker from my teenage years spoke of how she had been in tears when she told her husband about the hope and Christ-like story of grace and redemption that can be found in our relationship. Which was heartwarming, as it confirmed the prophetic nature of my heart’s desire for us to be a message of reconciliation to others.

The day was so good. And this has already gotten long. So I’ll cut this short and title it, “#TheWedding” or something. There’ll be a post titled “10 Days” to follow, where I chronicle all I’ve learned in just 10 days.

#ManAndWifeMeyersForLife

Sincerely,

The Groom

wedding-day

I Decided

I decided it would be a disservice to my own heart if I didn’t go ahead and write the day before I got married. It’s how I’m wired. It’s how I share with the world. And I firmly believe every story is meant to be told. There’s always something to learn from someone else’s. So here’s mine.

I decided. Life is made up of a series of decisions. Some lead to pain and death and others lead to joy and life. Some seem mundane and others seem exciting. But we’re always making decisions, second-by-second, day-by-day, decision-after-decision. We do not have be the sum of our past mistakes, but who we are today is the sum total of our decisions up to that point in time. I’m in debt because I chose to spend money before I’d acquired or saved it. I’m overweight because I don’t pay enough attention to the caloric intake of my diet or exercise enough. And on the positive spectrum, I’ve got amazing friends because I’ve always invested heavily in those relationships. And I’m about to marry Allie tomorrow because I decided that she was worth the cost of my singleness.

And so I decided to ask her to marry me on October 21st, 2016. After tomorrow, it’ll probably be rated as the second most nerve-wrecking moment of my life. Standing on a stage in front of 200 people and trying to read my vows without crying or cracking a cheesy joke to lighten my inner anxiety while sweating in a tux will quickly take first place. But that moment on October 21st, a little over three months ago, was terrifying. But I’d decided it was worth risking rejection. I’d decided that while singleness and “freedom” had been fun and I’d enjoyed a lot of juvenile liberties, that I was ready to move forward.

Tomorrow, I’ll decide to confirm that reality in my heart. I’ll show up ready to commit the rest of my life to a woman I’ve only known 1 year, 3 months, and so many days. She’s worth it, because Jesus loves me that way – without reserve, without doubt, without ever holding back or retreating. I’ll say, “I do” because I know she’ll do the same. Because I’ve seen her lean into God and into community in my ugliest moments in order to overcome and to forgive. And because she’s awakened my heart to the man I’m meant to be. Because she looks me in the eye in such a way that the part of my heart that constantly seeks others approval is slowing dying, because it can just rest right there, in her gaze. Because I can wholly be myself with her. Quirky jokes, ridiculous humor, high energy, abundant joy, turbulent depression, anxiety, fear, a bleeding heart sometimes, a foggy grey others. She accepts and loves all of me. Not only will she let me walk alongside her with all of my baggage but she helps lighten the load. She picks up one of the bags and says, “Let me have this one. You can’t carry that load by yourself.”

Tomorrow, I’ll decide that no matter what happens from that day forward, I’ll always pursue her heart and always love her. I’ll never give up. In the words of an evangelist from time past, “No reserves. No retreats. No regrets.”

I’m all in. I’ve decided.

With Love & Gratefulness,

Justin Meyer

joy

Freakout Mode, Ephesians 5, Mey-Guys, And Prayer.

“I’m just going to call her your wife – I’m sure your wife is proud of you for all you’re going through right now,” said the leader of my accountability group on the phone. I can’t tell you the positive impact of that statement on my heart. It just kind of sat there on the surface and gradually broke its way through the ice, until I believed it.

My wife. Allie will be my wife. You should see the way she looks at me. It just about brings me to tears almost every time. That woman loves me, so much. She’s always trying to figure me out. Sometimes, that gets to be a little overwhelming and I don’t know how to say, “Hey, let’s just zone out and watch TV – I need a break from you studying me.” But we will both learn how to communicate our mental needs over time and our relationship has continued to become stronger.

I just can’t believe it. It’s all surreal. The day is getting closer and closer and I feel unqualified and underprepared. In 10 Days, all my shirts will be made of Husband Material. “Husband will look good on you,” she and others have said.

I’m encouraged and I sure hope so.

After a solid workout in the gym this morning (not part of my regular routine currently, but I’m glad that I squeezed it in today), I found myself at Pour Coffeehouse studying Ephesians 5. What a powerful chapter of Scripture on the call to be “imitators of God.” My favorite verses are 8-10 – “For you were once darkness but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.” I love that we have a new identity in Christ and I love the call to live in the light. It was encouraging to my soul and something I needed to hear.

Speaking of encouragement – Mey-Guys are awesome. Often referred to as “The Dream Team” – the collective group of my core friends all came together for my Bachelor Party last weekend and it was such a blessing to spend time with them. My words are not sufficient to express what it means that Dan rode the bus all the way from Dallas (for 12+ hours) and Tyrel and Jaron came from Hillsboro and Hutchinson, etc. They spoke words over me like they believed me in me and that I’m one of the most competent men they know, that I’ll lead well and make an amazing husband, that they were thankful for my friendship. It’s cool when you realize that your friends aren’t going anywhere. The men that were there with me celebrating will likely literally be lifelong friends and I’m so thankful for that. I need them in my life.

bachelor-party

And so I sit here in a coffee-shop writing randomly about the things on my mind. I needed to renew my Drivers License but it’s looking like that will have to be taken care of tomorrow. I needed to re-secure Allie’s engagement ring which had been refitted and I did accomplish that. I was supposed to bring WD-40 for the squeaky doors in our townhouse for my brother, but I forgot that. I’ve had customers calling and texting me all morning about random inquiries and I don’t have access to the information to help them. I’m just one man, trying to make it in life and be there for as many people as possible.

But as I’ve sat here, working on communicating things out to my groomsmen about tuxedo rentals and making phone-calls to ensure things are in line, I can’t help but think Jesus is whispering “I’m right here.” So I’m concluding by praying and leaning on him.

“Lord, help the words of my friends come true. Help me be a competent and confident man. Keep me humble and lacking arrogance. Allow me to love my wife as Christ loves the Church. Take all the burdens on my heart – I don’t have the strength to carry them on my own any longer and that’s okay. Teach me to love myself, so that I can more abundantly love others, putting off the insecurity of the old flesh and putting on the strength of Christ. Hold me and keep me, watch over my marriage and protect it, build us up and keep us in good company, and lay your purpose and mission on our hearts so that we’d spend our lives doing something worthwhile. May February 4th be an awesome day of celebrating a beautiful, Christ-like story of grace and redemption and love, but may it not be the peak of what we live for – but simply the beginning. May we explore the mountains of Colorado safely and not live in fear. May you keep us young and playful at heart always. May you assure us of your love and would you help us rest in that?”

And all God’s people said, “Amen.”

Intimidated

I’m sitting here and finding myself intimidated by writing my vows. Crazy to think that a hundred words – the word-limit that Allie and I have set will ‘define’ the love we have for each other. How can one tell a story so beautiful in just 100 words? How can I promise and pray enough good will of heart over our marriage?

She’s scared that I’ll “outdo” her, since I’m “a writer.” I doubt it. All it takes is a few kind words and that smile of hers to make me melt like ice-cream on a hot summer day. Consider me soft-serve already as I consider how anxious I’ll be that day just to finally say, “I do” and party with some of my closest friends and family.

The day is fast approaching. But Allie and I have not lost sight of the fact that this is simply a day. An evening of epic proportions, of course. One that we will remember for a lifetime. But also one that will pass by in the blink of an eye. Our marriage will not be defined by 100 words, or one evening of dancing, drinking, and laughing with friends.

It’ll be defined by the way we love each other day in and day out. How I’ll clean the bathrooms and how she’ll surprise me with coffee at work. How we’ll be fighting and know when to call a time-out and just kiss and promise one another that we love the other and are going to press through.

“I’ll always be there for you,” would sum up the state of my heart and my continuous promise to the woman that’s captured my heart.

I’m sure this state of “lovey-dovey” winsomeness will not always be about and we’ve faced our share of rough-and-tough “disagreements” (that’s what people call ‘fights’ to make themselves feel better about it). But I’m also positive that love does not have to be as dark as some have promised us it will be.

We’ve noticed a selfishness within both of our hearts and a need for humility. I hate being wrong, but I’m learning to hate being right just as much – there is no prize for the winner of an argument. There is only one wrestling with their own pride and one left feeling as if their heart was not valued.

I’ve found myself perplexed at the power of prayer. A few deep breaths, a hug, and then taking a few moments to pray over one another has a way of bringing us back – as if we were on a sports team in a huddle, receiving a pep talk from the Coach. Only our Coach is God.

And so I’m intimidated. Intimidated of how much bigger our love is than myself. Already catching visions and dreams of what God could potentially use our relationship for, the healing power it could bring, the Spirit that dwells within, the wounds to be healed, the walls to be torn down, the cities to travel to, and the stories to tell. Our story is so much bigger than myself. And I’m a pretty big guy. But I feel small.

If David can conquer Goliath, in Christ. Then WE can conquer life, in Christ.

So marriage and love will never be summed up in a matter of words. Their currency will always be measured in actions – the only true measure of a heart.

I’ve never encountered a more kind and beautiful heart than hers. It brings warm, joyous tears, as I consider how much Light she brings into the darkness. Pair that with a heart as wild and fierce as mine and you have an unstoppable force, unwilling to be broken, persevering to the very end with one goal in mind: Share the love of Christ.

Intimidated no more am I by a mere string of words etched out on notebook paper. Intimidated more so by all the work that is to be done and that I am not enough. But praise be to God that he sent me a Helper! And that His Spirit’s desire is to set us both free.

It’s come to my attention that some have found a sort of compelling nature about our relationship – a sense of hope, perhaps. We’re just a couple learning more about love each day. What you’ve found compelling about us is that every day we’re learning to surrender more and more of our hearts, and more and more aspects of our relationship to Christ.

The old Sunday school answer rings true here. “Jesus” is our answer. He can be yours, too.

intimidated

Release

I’ve had this mental picture for the last few days and I want to share it with you because I feel my heart experienced some freedom this morning. And it was glorious.

The last few months I’ve been in what I’d equate to a “winter funk” – a sort of seasonal depression that hasn’t lifted much. I’ve been defensive, confrontational, frustrated, and fear-filled. Scared that I wouldn’t be a great husband. Scared that I’d never live up to my own expectations.

It got to where I didn’t want to open the doors in my own mind and so I kept them closed for fear of opening the wrong door and discovering something ugly behind it. Instead of addressing the dark corners of my heart or letting the light in, I shut myself up in the living room and peered out the window – watching the world move on by and have a good time – while I stayed inside for fear of catching a cold (and then I caught a sinus infection). I’m being metaphorical here, though.

Strangely enough, it was as if I was living in my own prison. I’d put myself in timeout and declared myself “bad” – because I was my shortcomings. (I hate the lies the enemy tells us. I hate more so that I allow myself to be so easily swayed and convinced of such filth.)

Something happened this morning though that was different. Instead of militantly forcing myself to go to the gym because I was “bad” for not being fit in time for my wedding, I found myself flying down the highway to my soon-to-be bride’s place of residence. I missed her deeply, despite having just seen her the night before. (Engagement is rough like that. Good byes and good nights are her least favorite thing; having to drive all the way back to my parents house and THEN go to bed is mine.)

So there I was driving down K-10/I-435 and praying. “Lord Jesus, would you help us? We’re just human, and sometimes we’re unfairly harsh with one another. Would you help us be gentle? Would you teach me to love her well? God, would you give me the strength to forgive and love myself? Would you heal the hurting places in both of our hearts?”

I felt something changing in my heart. Instead of stiff-arming help, I was asking for it. Pride’s walls were slowly melting for the benefit of the collective good.

Last night, I wrote out a massively long text (basically a letter to Allie, because I couldn’t sleep). I explained that I’d gradually learn to die to myself for our collective benefit. That I’d learn to pursue her like Christ pursues his Bride – the Church. I promised to never quit. To always get back up. I told her that she was beautiful and the most Christ-like woman I’d ever met. That I couldn’t wait to see the look on her face when we started conquering collective goals (like becoming debt-free).

Turning into the neighborhood HyVee, I found the prettiest yellow roses and purchased a dozen of them. Then let myself in (because engagement has its perks – like your own key) and surprised her with them. I let my heart love without reserve. I let myself cry and ask for forgiveness for being so uptight lately. I let myself walk out of that prison cell.

I have problems, but I’m not the problem (that’s a lie I’ve wrestled with since adolescence). I can be hard to love sometimes, but I’m worth the work and I shouldn’t apologize for my heart being my heart.

Like Adam in the Garden of Eden, I’m grateful the Lord has handcrafted such a beautiful Helper for me. We just fit. 24 days to entering a covenant relationship with the woman that’s taught me more about love than anyone else. Words just won’t do it justice. But I’m thrilled.

In Deep Love & Gratitude,

Justin Meyer

yellow-roses

 

What I Learned In 2016

In the event that you’ve been sleeping under a rock or maybe you’ve taken a social-media hiatus, I’m getting married in 2017! Not that far into it either – February 4th, 2017 cannot get here soon enough. (Actually, it can. There’s still a few things to accomplish before then.)

As you can imagine, it’s been a season of immense personal growth. A time to face many fears, analyze a lot of hearty spiritual issues, career changes, and much more.

In 2016, I fell in love with a beautiful woman named Allie. We met October 21st, 2015 and a few short months after that I was gazing in her eyes at Kanza Hall and promising to marry her. “My friends would kill me,” I said, as she blushed and smiled wide, “if they knew I’d already confessed my love for you so soon.” But I’ve always loved hard and loved fast so I’m sure they weren’t terribly surprised.

As a man that’s lived the bachelor life (as hard as that may be to believe), I can honestly tell you that “settling down” and preparing myself for a covenant relationship with the woman I love has been one of the greatest blessings of my entire life. There’s a reason there are so many “rules” in the Bible. It’s because they’re designed to give you life, and true freedom. I’ve tasted what is good, and Jesus is. And He has been foundational in holding a relationship as precious and valuable as Allie and I’s together. I’m astonished at how powerful grace and love are, when they’re originally from a source as powerful as God, Himself.

2016 also provided the opportunity for a career change. After a solid year of being absolutely miserable in a call-center that had terrible leadership and no respect for the talents of their own people, I was given the opportunity to enter into Sales. It’s led to the development of a skill-set I didn’t even know that I had and I’m absolutely loving it. Hard work pays off and sometimes you just have to put yourself out there. My lifelong philosophy of “it never hurts to ask” pays off as well, since I’m not afraid to question the objections that customers throw my way.

Personally, in 2016, I’ve come to terms with my own heart and its desire for transparency, depth, genuine connections, and true life change. Culturally, the church has often decided that it’s best to put a Band-Aid on wounds and pretend that everything is okay. But it’s not. Pain is meant to be felt. Prayers are meant to be said. Conversations are designed to occur. Nothing worth having has ever come easy.

Lust and all the struggles that Christian Men face in a hyper-sexualized world has been a battle that I’ve had to face head on in order to prepare for marriage and thanks to the guys at Freedom KC, I’ve managed to pursue freedom in that area of my life. I’m far from perfect, but it’s an excellent feeling no longer having to walk in shame. Because where there is Light, darkness cannot be also.

This year has provided me with the opportunity to understand that no one person is perfect. They never will be. There are issues and struggles and aches and bruises that we simply will not comprehend unless we genuinely care enough to take the time to understand them. Just like you (yes – you), my initial response to broken people is to ignore them, write them off, or be frustrated with their naivety. But that’s not what Jesus did.

I’ve watched a country stray from its roots and witnessed two terrible primary candidates take the stage against each other in an onslaught of character-battles rather than facing the issues. I’ve seen ISIS terrorize the world. I’ve seen Liberals think that they’re always right and Conservatives ignoring them, when we should all be listening to each other. I’ve witnessed the devastating affects of addiction on relationships and families. And throughout all of the aforementioned, I still chose to hope.

But why? How? Where is the hope in a world filled with so much darkness?

I understand – and I have close friends who would totally agree with you. But I’ve chosen for my own sanity to not give up hope – that God has to be real and He continually answers the promises He’s made to us. He is a faithful and loving Father and in the end, the fights you face for freedom in your own life will be worth it because you’ll hear “well done, my good and faithful servant.” And you won’t have to live the rest of your life out in bleak dismay and unnecessary fear.

2016 taught me that I still believe in Christ as my Lord and Savior. That I need the Church. It’s taught me that Allie and I are #BetterTogether. Strong and intelligent separate but far stronger and emotionally intelligent together. That at the age of 26, it’s beyond time to move out and start your own life. That being afraid of change does no good, as change is always necessary for growth. That my growing pains do not make me a failure.

That last part struck me just now – actually. I want you to take that into 2017 with you, too. Your growing pains – shortcomings, weak moments where you give into impulse – do NOT make you a failure. You may have hit a speed-bump on the road to success but you have yet to fail – you have yet to disqualify yourself from the race.

Here’s to 2017! To marrying the most beautiful, warm, kindhearted, forgiving, intelligent, and goofy woman I could ever hope and dream of. To God continuing to break through the glass ceiling of my own expectations. To continued success in Sales and other ventures. To a renewed faith and desire for community. To two families becoming one.

Best Wishes,

Justin Meyer

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