Thursday, October 31, 2013

Being ruled by love

If you have read my blog before, then you may have already guessed that I struggle with fear and control. In fact, I have wrestled with them for most of my life. Sometimes, I get discouraged because they still have power over me.

Recently, I reached a new level of frustration with them and decided that I was done. I'm done ruminating over what people think, fearing rejection and judgment and trying to control every single aspect of my life in order to protect myself from what I fear. So, I prayed one of those desperate and risky prayers:

God, I want to be ruled by your love, not fear and control. I give you my permission to do whatever it takes to set me free from fear and control. Even if I have to endure difficult circumstances or emotional pain, I don't want to live this way anymore!

Now, I prayed this with a sober mind. I understood that I was inviting God to mess with my life. But, I can't stand feeling this way anymore.

But, what happened next has been even more surprising. God has started to wage war on fear and control in me by interfering with me having my way. These small attacks on my comfort and preferences have produced amazingly big offense.

I was so mad that I didn't think I could even say good-night to Ben last night. And, it was because of laundry. Yes, laundry. Who freaks out about laundry? Me. I do that.

Now, he had taken 2 loads of clean clothes and jammed them all back into the hamper to cart downstairs and then left it there, in the middle of our living room. But, the anger that I felt over this action was out of proportion to the offense. And, I felt strongly compelled to take control of that situation by marching that hamper right back upstairs, emptying that laundry back into the dryer to be air fluffed and then folding every piece neatly in a separate basket. Even though it was late, I was exhausted and Ben had already offered to repair the laundry offense today, I insisted that I could not accept any option other than the one I was pursuing.

As I stood in that laundry room, I realized that I was not being ruled by love, but by control. I'm not sure exactly what fear I was trying to manage in that moment.

But, there was probably some should shouting in my mind that clean laundry should always be folded and put away. I think there may have been some judgment and rejection toward people like myself who would even think about leaving clean laundry crammed into a hamper overnight. I know that there was offense against my husband for doing such a terrible thing to me.

I wish that I would have accepted his sincere apology, allowed him to fix the laundry problem today and received the love that he was extending to me in that moment. But, I'm even more glad that God is answering my prayers and challenging fear and control in my life.

Even if it means that my way and preferences will be offended.

Still Counting Gifts:

  • #889: my 10 year college reunion
  • #890: seeing old friends
  • #891: my husband is generous and patient
  • #892: pumpkin whoopie pies with cream cheese frosting
  • #893: a huge tree with beautiful yellow leaves outside my window
  • #894: an old record player that is new to us
  • #895: the satisfaction of reconciliation after conflict

Thursday, October 24, 2013

How do I like being married?

People keep asking me how I like being married.

I get it. I’m adjusting to a major life transition. People are excited for me and this is an easy way for them to enter into my joy. They ask this question and I start gushing.

I say that I love it. It’s wonderful. Yes, we’re settling in well, there in the basement of my parents house. I may mention that Ben has been hanging things in our room and brought furniture out of storage to make our space more like home.

If the conversation lasts long enough and becomes more intimate, I may even tell them that some of my favorite things are when we pray together in the morning and he makes me coffee to help me wake up. I like when we fall asleep with hands and toes just barely touching; in our space, but still nearby. I like calling him my husband and hearing him say that I’m his wife.

Being married has been wonderfully different and also surprisingly the same. My life at work, for example, feels exactly like it did before I was married. I can get so distracted there that I forget about Ben entirely. We have had several days this week where we had completely separate schedules and only saw each other in the morning and at bedtime. I almost feel single again in those moments.

My insecurities have not changed either. I’m still somewhat stunned that this amazing man chose to commit the rest of his life to me. Having his love and last name has not changed the way that I struggle to believe what God says is true about me. In some ways, being married to Ben just further exposes the same weaknesses that I have had all along. And Ben can’t fix them, as much as he wants to and starts talking about crawling into my head to kill the accusing voice that taunts and judges me.

One thing that is different and helpful as I face my insecurities in the context of marriage is the way that God will come shining out of my husband with truth and love. I experience glimpses of God in the way that Ben looks at me and how he treats me, especially in my weakness. I feel a gentleness and acceptance that invite me out of my defensive and scared posture. Ben is wise and has good ideas about how I can change my thinking, but invariably the most helpful and supportive thing that he does in those moments is to pray for me. He ushers me into session with the Wonderful Counselor who heals my hurts and makes me whole.

Whether or not you believe this, I still have deep fears that I am wrestling through. I have told God that I want to be ruled by love, not fear. I have invited Him to set me free and to use whatever process He deems best. I’m not sure what He will choose, but I am confident that my new husband is an important part of His plan. 

Still Counting all of God's good gifts to me:
  • #878: I saw 29 clients last week and this is the most that I have seen in one week since I changed offices
  • #879: I discovered just how relaxing and delightful a facial is
  • #880: Singing with Ben 
  • #881: Going out for breakfast spontaneously
  • #882: That I was not seriously hurt when I made the poor decision to stand on the toilet seat to adjust the shower head and ended up tearing down the curtain and falling into the shower after the toilet seat broke (I'm sure it would have been hilarious to see, but alas, I was all by myself.)
  • #883: Sister visits
  • #884: Cookies and Cream ice cream
  • #885: Doc Martin marathon's
  • #886: Dinner and catching up with a friend
  • #887: Ben's birthday
  • #888: A weekend in Chicago

Saturday, October 19, 2013

3 weeks ago today

I got married three weeks ago today.

I’ve been thinking a lot about our wedding since that day. This was my first week back to work, which meant that I got to talk a lot about that day and show pictures, because everything is still fresh and new and people are anxious to know how it went.

I have missed writing. Several times during our honeymoon, I almost grabbed my laptop because I had the urge to write. I never did, but I wanted to. I think that it felt too intimate to record in some ways. And, in others, I was just enjoying being lazy and carefree.

I plan to write about what I remember from my wedding. (Maybe even some things from our honeymoon. We shall see…) I don’t know what I will share, but I want to make a record of my memories and experiences from that day. Just three weeks later, but the feelings are less vivid and the mental pictures are less crisp. Fortunately, our photographer did an amazing job and I am thankful that I have those images to remind me.

Some of my favorite memories and snapshots:

Having Amy and Jessi escort me around that morning. They were not official attendants, but they attended to my every need that morning and I cherished their company.

When my mom was helping me with my jewelry and she teared up with joy. That was probably the first moment of the day where I felt the weight of what was happening and the ecstatic joy that accompanied it.

Making my way to our spot, up by where the barn used to be. It was there, just outside the door, where I first met Ben Striker. It was there, under a night sky with fireworks that I told him I would become his wife. And, it was there that he stood, blind-folded, waiting for me. I held the train of my dress high, to keep it out of the dirt, clutched my gorgeous bouquet of wild flowers, and went out to meet him. I had never seen such a look of delight and wonder on his face as when I lifted that blindfold.

Wandering all over the farm with our wedding party and photographer to capture moments.

How God was literally a rushing wind all around us. The wind was gusting strong that day. To me, it meant that God was with us and He was so excited that He was racing around the property all day long.

Standing in the kitchen, watching all of our friends and family arrive and find seats. Knowing and struggling to believe that they were there for us and that our day had finally come.

When the wind was threatening to carry away the chuppah that we were getting married beneath. Without a word, Eric and Andrew came to stand on either side of us and hold it firm. It was a beautiful reminder of how strong God’s covering is.

Dancing with my dad and when he told me that he loved me and that he was so proud of me. I felt the warmth of his approval and affection.

Riding away in the hay wagon, pulled by a tractor, through a tunnel of beloved people cheering for us was one of my most favorite moments.

I can remember that day during my internship at IHOP-KC when God pressed me to ask Him for a wedding blessing. I wept because my heart was so tired of waiting and hoping. It felt too risky to ask God to bless me with a wedding when that possibility felt so remote.

I am thankful that God encouraged me to pray as He did. I am thankful that I made my request for a wedding blessing known to Him. And He did bless me and my wedding. It was so much more than I could have ever asked for or imagined.