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,