Category Archives: Becoming… a wife
North Point Community Church in Atlanta, GA, recently did a series called Climate Change. (I listen to podcasts during my drive to and from Nashville throughout the week.) Basically, the point is that “the most critical climate” may not be what you observe outside your window, but the one “created inside a room when you walk into it.” The climate is the condition that prevails in general, or over a long period of time. Every person has a unique “climate” that she/he carries, and that climate can impact… and even predict… relationships. So if someone’s climate is full of bitterness, frustration, pessimism and pride, relationships will probably be rocky. Other people will more than likely be on edge or overwhelmed around those individuals. Others may grow more frustrated themselves and pour on/reinforce negativity, or they may choose to distance themselves from the bitter pessimist altogether because of her/his innate knack for darkening the room. Know anyone like that? Know someone that instantly creates an emotional or even behavioral response within you as soon as they walk through the door… as soon as you hear their voice?
It’s easy to point out the flaws and frustrations in other people. But it’s vital from time to time that we take a moment to look inward. What if I am that person? What if my climate instantly causes other people to withdraw… to be overwhelmed and frustrated… to feel uncomfortable… to close up and not fully share or be themselves… The first sermon of the series challenged people to ask some honest, close friends, “What’s it like to be on the other side of me?” The speaker challenged that if you would be willing to ask the question, be prepared for both positive and negative. If you give others room to offer constructive criticism, you better be open to receiving it. And if the point is to use it as an opportunity to grow and not argue, listen to feedback without defensiveness. I’ll be honest, it was a tough question to ask… it wasn’t necessarily anything that surprised me, but more of confirmed some weaknesses that I was afraid to face. I really only asked Tony, but I hope to ask a few more friends in the coming months (feedback from him was enough to last me a while, haha). So I’ll keep asking… keep working… keep striving to become a person who is seen as safe, loving, accepting, open, generous, hard working, gentle… it will require some pruning (John 15:2), but I believe it will be well worth it as I work toward a climate change of my own.
My new favorite time of the day is around 5:30 or 6pm… I’m just getting home from wherever I’ve been for the day (work, school, interning, errands, etc.), and Tony and I take a walk around our neighborhood and talk. It only happens 2-3 times per week, because I’m in Nashville most evenings for class. I think we’ve had some of our best conversations lately during those walks. It’s as if everything around us stops for a few minutes and we get to enjoy a fresh moment outside, and alone with each other. And, it helps me in adding more activity to my days… win/win! So although tonight will not be one of those special days, the time will be missed… and I look forward to when it gets to happen again.
…ideas or thoughts that continually preoccupy or INTRUDE on a person’s mind… the things I over-think and think about for way too long, way too often…
- My to-do list – I can often spend more time creating, listing and organizing my tasks than actually accomplishing them…
- Plans – this sort-of fits within the to-do list category… but includes dates that go on the calendar that I have to fit my to-do’s around…
- Times I mess up – I can replay embarrassing moments or word-mishaps over and over, wishing I could take things back or have a second chance to stay things stronger, funnier, more graceful, more patiently or simply not at all…
Because these are “intruders” of my thoughts, they are often difficult to ignore. However, with each day I realize more and more how I have to be careful to reign them in. Here’s why:
- My to-do list can become an idol directing my life. It causes me to spend time organizing tasks over spending special time in prayer or with people who need quality time. It can consume me with the idea that I can control or fix everything around me… it can cause me to become overwhelmed with duties, expectations and ultimately… “small stuff”. The biggest challenge to this struggle was April 1’s devotion in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young. She writes, “You yearn for a simplified lifestyle, so that your communication with me can be uninterrupted. But I challenge you to relinquish the fantasy of an uncluttered world. Accept each day as it comes, and find [Jesus] in the midst of it all… your ultimate goal is not to control or fix everything around you; it is to keep communing with [Jesus]. A successful day is one in which you have stayed in touch with [Jesus], even if many things remain undone at the end of the day.”
- I think planning is good… it helps you to set goals and be prepared for what is coming. However, obsessing about planning limits my spontaneity and ability to “roll with it.” I have also come to realize that it can be overwhelming for other people. Whereas having a plan decreases my anxiety by allowing me to have clear expectations of what will happen, too many questions/details can cause stress in other people. It causes me to be unfairly frustrated with another’s low interest in planning when some instances are actually no big deal. This tension causes me to go against my goal to be approachable, relaxed and fun to be around.
- Focusing on my weaknesses, insecurities and mistakes negates the grace that God has lavished upon me (2 Corinthians 12:9). It also allows mindless things to occupy too much space in my mind.
So, I’m learning to let go of control and work on the things that I can change… I’m learning to obsess a little bit less and choose to focus on/discern what are more important things… I’m learning to be more comfortable in the moment and experience the freedom of accepting the things I cannot do anything about.
A few weeks ago I visited the mall with my mom. As we were walking through, I was somehow sucked in by one of the workers at a nail product kiosk. My mom, however, sneakily escaped and continued on with her window shopping as I was left alone with a long-haired, dark skinned flirtatious salesman. He reached for my left hand to begin demonstrating the wonder of how his product would leave a brilliant shine on my natural nail… and this is how the conversation went as he’s holding my hand and filing my nails…
“What’s your name?”
“Oh, Melanie, you are so beautiful.”
“Hmmm… (I’m thinking he surely says that to all the women, and roll my eyes a bit. Who takes him up on that line to buy whatever it is that he’s selling? And where is my mom? Why am I stuck here alone? How did this happen? I would so rather be almost anywhere else, but I hate to be rude.”
He notices my wedding ring… “Melanie, you married?”
“Oh, you break my heart. For how long?”
“Five years?!?! That’s too long. Me, I was married two years, and that was enough. Now I’ve moved on to many more women. And… voila! See your beautiful, radiant nail!”
I kindly (at least I think it was kindly as I took the opportunity to escape) said thank you and was off to find my mom and continue our day of shopping.
Even now, I’m surprised by his candor. I’m not sure how relationships work in his culture, but I do wonder how that woman might have felt. Did she so easily move on? Was she able to not bat an eye as she briefly mentioned her quick marriage in the midst of a sales pitch? One of my best girlfriends told me that she prays often that she will always love her husband. She told me a story of how she was speaking at a women’s event at church and mentioned that thought. Another woman approached her afterward and said that was a crazy idea, of course she would always love her husband! My friend asked her how long she had been married, and the woman told her it had only been a few years. Many years later, the woman came back to my friend and said that she now understood, and she now prays that she will always love her husband.
I too thought the idea of praying to always love Tony was a little silly. But, I trust my friend who has been married at least 10 years longer than I. Struggles and trials and temptations are sure to come. And in the midst of it all, yes! I DO pray that I will always love him. I don’t think I pray it everyday, but I do often, every time I relish the thought of the love we share. I think I pray for it every time we have sweet moments and special days together… every time I know without a doubt that life wouldn’t be the same without him. I pray that our marriage will always be so sweet, so lasting, so fulfilling, so honoring to God. I pray our marriage can be an example to others of how God created us as husband and wife and how he has designed marriage to be. This September will make five years… and I pray for fifty-five more. I pray my marriage will last in a world where that is often not the case.