Stop Fighting And Start Serving

I waited tables for five years, and have shared before how grateful I am for everything that experience taught me about life.

The first two years I waited tables, I loved it. LOVED it. I was ready to quit college and retire waiting tables. It was fun work for easy money and the people absolutely filled my tank. It was a honeymoon stage, if you will.

Something shifted in year three and my perspective changed to it being not enough money for hard work and the people made me want to spit. I resented it and I grew bitter and another b-word in a hurry.

Push pause on that story and work with me here. Continue reading “Stop Fighting And Start Serving”

Lucky 13: A Post About My Husband

Husband

Husband

I can’t help myself. Every year, on or around my anniversary, I have to write a post about my husband. Because how else will the masses know how amazing he is unless I put it in writing and publish it on the world-wide web?

Today is our 13th wedding anniversary. Thirteen years married, and we’ve been together most of the last 15 years of our lives. I say most, because I broke up with him twice during our dating time. I haven’t always been the rock-solid, emotionally stable woman I am today. Ahem.

We’ve been through it all. We’ve been broke. There were tear stains in our first-ever checkbook register as a couple, because I was circling all the negative signs in front of the numbers when I would balance it. There were several stretches we couldn’t afford groceries, and ate creative meals of whatever we had available in the backs of our cupboards. I remember stocking up on Kool-Aid packets as a treat for us to drink with dinner, and halving the sugar. (which is probably a good idea, anyway.) We were poor. And angry. And hungry. And angry hungry.

We’ve moved furniture together. I don’t know how you were raised, but I witnessed my parents nearly end their marriage every time they had to help each other carry something in the house together. I used to laugh about it afterward, until I had to carry something and move it with Brent holding on to the other end. There is something about lifting heavy objects and moving them from one place to another (through a doorway for added difficulty) that sends all your love and admiration for one another to the deepest pits of the earth. Yet, somehow, we’ve stayed together.

We’ve been on the brink of divorce. Thank God Almighty we never acted upon those distressed, strained, distraught seasons in our marriage. Otherwise I wouldn’t be enjoying the fruit of our lives we have today. Marriage is hard. And no one prepares you for the reality of just how difficult living with another human being is. We have dealt with selfishness and sin on a level we never anticipated, and it nearly broke us up once and for all. Our God is bigger than us, though, and He’s bigger than our egos. He brought and kept us together, and if that isn’t proof He is still a God of miracles, I’m not sure what is.

We’ve buried a child. There aren’t enough words, nor is there enough time, to aptly describe everything we’ve been through as parents. We’ve had to hold one another up through the darkest, deepest sorrows life can throw at a person. Sometimes I feel guilty that he had to endure this because he married me. If he had married someone who was built for birthing children, his heart would never carry this pain. But he married me. And rational or not, it’s a guilt my head has to deal with from time to time. All of that aside, I can’t imagine having anyone else by my side. No one knows me more intimately, no one knows my heart, head, or hurt more accurately than my husband. I hate the fact we’ve had to walk through this at all, but I find comfort in having Brent as the one by my side each step of the way.

We’re not crazy romantics, and I’m sure the last time I gave Brent butterflies in his stomach was when I made dinner using konjac noodles and he nearly gagged to death. But we love each other with a commitment and resolve that took us 13 years to achieve. Each year our love will be different. Our lives will ebb and flow through good and bad, and we’ll adjust and learn and forge ahead. We don’t always like each other, and we’re not always thrilled to be in one another’s company. But we’d be devastated if our company had to part ways for any reason. We still argue. We still disagree. But we also still have fun, still kiss every morning, and still trust God to lead us in life and love until the rest of time.

I believe we serve a God who wants the very best for us, and who loves us more than anything. I believe God put Brent in my life as an act of that outright love. I couldn’t have picked a better person to spend the rest of my life with. I wouldn’t want to try. Brent is my one. Brent is my husband. For better, for worse. In good times, in bad. Till death do us part.

Happy Anniversary, Brent Ryan. I love you more than coffee.

Making Moments Count: A Manifesto

MakingMomentsCount-A Manifesto

Prior to 2013, I thought I had life figured out. My marriage had overcome some serious obstacles, our oldest daughter had overcome her dramatic entrance into the world two months prematurely, I was (slowly) climbing the corporate ladder, building skills and leadership capabilities, and knew our life was headed toward a picture-perfect happy ending.

Then in April of 2013, our second daughter was stillborn.

No warning. No idea. No explanation. No realization it was possible.

Everything I thought I knew became obsolete and our priorities, dreams, and desires took a dramatic shift.

I quickly realized I didn’t have much of anything figured out and in reality, was barely getting by. I thought I was successful, but I had only fit into the corporate mold others had created for me. I believed my marriage had overcome obstacles, but in hindsight, we had simply dismissed resolving them. I thought I had been working toward the life of my dreams, but instead, I had been working toward the fruition of someone else’s dreams for me.

It took the death of our daughter to make me realize my marriage, my relationship with Little Miss, and any relationship or successful venture I was working on building and maintaining, was a façade. I was ill-equipped to leave any lasting legacy because I believed I had reached my ceiling in my life’s potential.

And still, after my entire world had been turned upsidedown, I was expected to fit into the mold that had been created for me. Life was not certain or guaranteed, and what was supposed to be a celebratory season in our lives was wrought with tragedy and despair. When my world came crashing down, it exposed the weakest points of the foundation I had built my life upon. It also revealed, however, the ways I could strengthen and rebuild.

Life and its precious moments were too important. I realized – after intense mourning, continual grieving, and whole-hearted seeking – I hadn’t been living. None of us had been living. Our family was surviving. One grueling day at a time.

Some things got worse before they got better. I had to learn to fight for a better marriage, rather than accept fighting as the way to be married. I understood my husband and our relationship was the foundation of our family, and of our future. If our relationship was broken, so were the lives of our kids, the legacy of our stillborn daughter, and the promises we vowed to one another when we said, “I do.”

I realized if I claimed to believe God is the giver of life, I needed to start living as such. If I wanted to get anything out of the life He could make possible for me, I had to start investing in it. I might not have the chance to do what made me happy later on – as “later on” may never come.

It became my mission and passion, then, to guide others in seeking and finding the life they were designed to live, embracing the freedom that comes from fulfilling our calling, and making each moment count. I want to equip others to make moments count in the ways I never realized they could. I want to help pave the way for strong marriages, strong families, and stronger faith.

This is what I write. This is how I teach. This is why I’m making moments count.

Want to make your moments count, too? Join the Insider’s Club (all it costs is your email address) and receive tips, challenges, and insight into making your life’s moments count.

What Good Am I?

I’ve fallen behind from where I wanted to be with my book-writing, but I’m still plugging along. It’s at a slower, less productive pace than I was aiming for, but it’s progress, nonetheless.

What Good Am I-

One thing that has really surprised me in writing this book is how much I’ve forgotten about my own marriage, and life in general. All of these memories and circumstances that have been crowded out by new memories and circumstances, have been finding their way to the surface of my mind. I’ve found myself reminiscing about a lot of my past experiences, what they were, who was involved, and how they might have contributed to the person I am today.

Along those lines, there’s been a giant dose of self-consciousness heaped upon me, especially in moving forward with the book.
“Oh dear…I did that.”
“Oh gosh, I forgot about how foolish I was when I….”
“Ugh, I was hoping to never remember that again…”

These are some of the thoughts I’ve wrestled with as I type along, hoping to impart wisdom on relationships and marriage to anyone who might read it one day.

And “wrestled with” is putting it lightly. My emotions have taken over in an all-out brawl at times as I recall choices I made, people I hurt, or promises I broke.

Many mornings I’ve woken up with some great ideas, only to talk myself out of them. You can’t do that because you lost credibility when you ____(fill in the blank with something from my past)____. No one will listen to you, because they’ll remember when you said, “___(fill in the blank with something hurtful or unfounded)___.” 

I’m constantly talking myself down. I struggle, also, with whether or not I’m being narcissistic in this venture. Why would anyone trust I have anything helpful to share about marriage, or life in general? Why, when we live in a world where everyone wants to be heard, do I think I need to be heard above any single one of them? How does my message benefit anyone? What hasn’t been said before? I don’t research, I don’t counsel, I don’t have any degree or letters after my name that credit me as any kind of authority on marriage, or relationships.

What good am I?

I slink back in my own little shell, being a mama, a wife, and employee. I have nothing to offer other than what’s before me. What I’m required to do well in. My worth is counted in my pre-programmed tasks. I loaded the dishwasher today – score! I kept Little Man from bathing himself in yogurt today – score!

Honestly, some days, that’s all I can manage. But that’s not all I was created to be, and certainly not what all of my days were meant for.

Those self-deprecating statements, those triggers from my past that hold me down in a pit of unworthiness, and those burdensome chains of doubt and insecurity are all gifts to me from the father of lies. He wants to hold me in bondage. He wants to shame me. He wants me to forego healing, and cling to hurt. His business is keeping me out of the business of helping others, and of helping myself. His business is ruining marriages, and anyone who tries to build them up. His business is destruction.

The other morning, as I was reading my Bible, I read this passage from Psalm 139:

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

I’m a crier, admittedly, but I only remember crying fewer than a handful of times with regard to scripture. Until I read that passage. I surprised myself with how choked up I became. This beautiful depiction of God’s omniscience nearly did me in. He knows me. He knows everything I’ve done, everything I’ll do, and still, He lays His hand upon me.

He doesn’t reject me. He doesn’t show me every way in which I’ve failed. He doesn’t tell me I’d better not pursue anything better than what I have right now because what I’ve done in life prevents me from deserving more.

He lays His hand upon me.

When you’re at your worst, scared you’ll be unaccepted, shunned, dismissed, and you’re embraced instead – you know unconditional love. He doesn’t want to condemn me – He invites me to continue on with Him.

He knows everything. Everyone. Eternally. It’s not my story I’m telling. It’s not my mistakes or shortcomings I’m proclaiming victory over. It’s His story. His glory. His purpose.

He lays His hand upon me. And I keep writing.

So I Want to Write a Book…

“Spit in one hand, wish in the other, and see which one fills up faster.” That was what we heard every time we “wished” for a new toy, or new clothes, or something new and exciting (read: fleeting and forgotten about ten minutes later) while we were growing up.

My entire childhood, I took it to mean something along the lines of, “You’re better off wasting your time than your dreams. Don’t bother chasing them. It’s just messy, and you’ll end up with a handful of spit.”

Story of my life. I hear a phrase and my default is to interpret it as a convincing argument on why I can’t do something. It’s my out. It’s my default-defeat. I’ve always been this way. More often than not, I’ve quit before I’ve had a chance to start.

Until right now. You know what that phrase means to me now? Think about it, or do something. See which one gets results.

So I’m done wishing. I’m done stopping at the edge of my dream. It’s time to start doing, and see if I can get results. I’m going to write my book. My first book.

So I Want to Write a Book...

I have so many ideas about topics I could cover in writing, but for my first book, I’m sticking to one I’m pretty passionate about. It will hopefully be easier to formulate, create, and organize, and will keep the inspiring fire going for me to write more books about other stories I want to share. My first book will be a book about marriage.

That might surprise some of you. Why not about Harlynn? Why not about what we’ve been through with her? So many reasons. The first is, her story is still unfolding. If I put it into book form now, there would be so much left untold. Secondly, the emotional weight it bears. I don’t have the words, or frankly – the strength – to write an entire book about losing our daughter. A blog post as I’m experiencing a moment or emotion is more forthcoming than a book encapsulating what losing her has been for us. Is for us. Means to us.

“But your marriage is still unfolding too, isn’t it?” Yes. It is. But I’m not writing a book about my marriage. Will Brent and I be main characters? Yes. Those are the stories I know. And there are so many of them that illustrate some great points I want to touch on. Storytelling is what I do. Sharing (over-sharing, some may say) is far easier for me than it might be for others. While there will absolutely be several stories about Brent’s and my marriage specifically, the book won’t be about our marriage.

Still with me?

I hope so, because I’m going to need your help. I need a team of people partnering alongside me through this process. I need people to read what I write. To provide feedback. To make sure what I’m saying makes sense. To catch typos and horrendously offensive grammatical errors. I need people to idea-share and brainstorm with.

I need people to hold me accountable. To make sure I’m actually writing. To follow up with me about progress I’m making, struggles I’m running into, or hurdles I can’t seem to overcome. I need people to cover this in prayer. To cover me in prayer. I need my schedule, my family, my work, and my writing all covered in prayer.

You know when Brent and I have the most intense moments of intense fellowship? Usually right after I publish a post about how wonderful he is. The devil loves to toy with us. And me, writing a book about marriage? Oh mylanta is he laughing right now, scheming of all the ways he could derail this! We need your prayers.

I’ve set an audacious goal for myself to have a first draft written and submitted before 2015 is over. I’ve given myself four months to research, create, write, and produce a product (an entire book). I don’t have a title. I don’t have an outline. I don’t have a plan. But I’ve got a dream and a desire to not simply spit in one hand, but to do something to make that dream come true.

So here I go.

Will you partner with me? Where do your talents lie, and how would you best fit on this team? Shoot me a note and let me know. And thank you – in advance – for not getting sick of me being needy during this process, for not growing tired of my mistakes or my meltdowns, for holding me accountable, and for covering me, my family, and this book in incessant prayer.

Why We’ve Got Marriage All Wrong

We’ve got marriage all wrong, people.

With the recent SCOTUS ruling regarding same-sex marriage, all kinds of fires on all sides of the issue have been blazing around social media. I have too many thoughts and views on it to unpack in a single blog post, so I’m not going to do that now. One argument I’d like to address, however, is, “how dare you blame [homosexuals] for dissolving the sanctity of marriage, when you’re marching to court for your own divorce papers.”

Why We've Got Marriage All Wrong

Now before I go any further, allow me to be really explicit here. I’m going to talk about the Bible, I’m going to use scriptures from the New Testament, and I’m going to use these scriptures for my argument. I’m specifically addressing Bible-believing Christians. If you are a Bible-believing Christian, and you care the tiniest bit about why I agree we’re all a bunch of hypocrites, keep reading.

Matthew 19: 1 – 12

When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there. Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”
Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others – and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”

First of all, those who are saying Christians have themselves made a mockery of the sanctity of marriage, are right. We have. We’ve been doing so since the time of Moses, when our hearts were hard. And since, we’ve lost the passion to equip and prepare our young people for marriage. Their failure isn’t entirely their fault.

When Brent and I were married, in order to have our ceremony in the church we attended at the time, we were required to have premarital counseling there. This practice in and of itself is not uncommon. However, our premarital counseling was a joke. Even as we were going through it, we questioned what we were expected to accomplish.

We had a discussion on how finances are the number one cause of divorce among couples – but no discussion on how to address or manage finances as a couple. Just a warning. We had a discussion on what we loved about each other, but no discussion on how to nurture our love for one another – or even what it meant to love one another.

Here’s the deal. I broke up with Brent twice while we were dating. I also threatened to break off our engagement. I went to premarital counseling where I made a list of 10 things I “loved” about Brent, and was told to make sure we don’t divorce over finances.

I walked down the aisle and was not at all equipped to be a wife. Not even the littlest bit. And let me tell you, Brent was not at all equipped to be a husband.

The only thing we were equipped for was a party. (the wedding)

Church, we need to equip our young people for marriage. For relationships. For how to stay married, what it means to commit to one another, and what love really is. For how to fight fairly and in love. For how to flee from satan and his mission of marital demise.

When my husband married me, he never could have imagined the hell we’d walk through. He never could have predicted the acts of love he’d have to perform for no other reason than he’s my husband. I never could have prepared for the baggage we’d carry with us for years and have to unpack when it became too heavy to keep lugging around.

Except we could have! We could have imagined and prepared for dealing with and coping through all of it, had we been given the proper counsel, guidance, and support.

I’ve said for years to people I know who are getting married: prepare yourself for the marriage, not the wedding. One is a ceremony that lasts a day, yet it seems to acquire all of our attention. The other is a commitment made for a lifetime, but ends up neglected.

Living together is not how you prepare for marriage. Sleeping together is not how you prepare for marriage. Marrying with the understanding if it doesn’t work out you can just get a divorce, is not preparation for marriage.

From the beginning, as Jesus said, it was God’s intention for married couples to stay married. As a society, we’ve put a lot of emphasis on the ceremony, the dress, the reception, the DJ….but too little on the relationship beyond the pictures and the pretty flowers.

Marriage is hard. Relationships are hard. Two individuals becoming one flesh is incredibly challenging. It should break your heart Christians are getting divorced. Having Affairs. Abandoning vows. Families. It should break your heart marriages are failing. It should break your heart it’s become a mockery to speak of the sanctity of marriage. And it should move our hearts to do something about it.

If we’re not raising our Christian kids to have a relationship with God, if we’re not raising our kids to show them marriages are worth the covenant they were created for, and if we’re not raising our kids to understand “I do” means “forever”, then we’re raising them to fail in their marriages.

Brent and I experienced some full-out grace. We weren’t equipped to be married, and by a miracle of all miracles, we never went to sign on the dotted line in a lawyer’s office to do away with it all. We made vows. Promises. We’ve learned what our relationship means, who we are to one another, how God feels about husbands and wives, and how truly sacred marriage is.

Don’t get married unless you mean it. Don’t think you mean it until you can prove you understand what it means. Seek counsel. Seek guidance. Seek support. Then pray like your future depends on it! Because I’ve got news for you: it does.

Church, let’s move on this and equip our kids for marriage. Let’s arm ourselves with truth and sincerity, trust God to repair our broken hearts and broken relationships, and let’s get out there and put the covenant back between husband and wife.

Why I Broke Up With My Ball And Chain

Twelve years ago on May 24th, I walked down the aisle, sick with salmonella and strep throat, and exchanged vows with Brent. I don’t remember much about the ceremony other than it was much shorter than I anticipated, and I looked amazing. That night, we drove away as husband and wife to begin our lives together as a married couple. As a ball and chain.

Twelve years later, I had to make a tough call. I had to break it off with my ball and chain.

Ball and Chain

Don’t worry – Brent and I are still married. Quite happily, in fact. But the ball and chain – I never liked those. People joke and it’s become a common association with marriage, but it’s so far from marital reality.

An historical reference regarding prisoners being kept in one area, the ball and chain was just that – an ankle shackle attached to a weighted ball by a short chain. It was meant to keep prisoners from going too far, too fast. The less mobile, the easier to control.

Someone thought it a wise correlation to marriage. I feel sorry for the person who thought so.

Brent has never “tied me down”. He has never kept me from going places or doing things I’ve wanted to. He has never restrained me, kept me stuck, or imprisoned me in life. Never.

When I wanted to be a Gallery Guide, Brent encouraged me, even after I tried to talk myself out of it. When I wanted to write, Brent proofed all my content. When I wanted to go back to school, Brent told me I’d be crazy not to.

When I want to go spend time with friends, Brent is there handing me the car keys. He has been the most supportive, most encouraging, most incredible cheerleader of a husband I could ever have.

I can’t speak for him, but I’m going to. (ha!) I told him last year I wish he’d golf more. He bought clubs, new shoes, golfing clothes, and guess what he does now on nice weather days after work, or on the weekends? He golfs. And I love that he does. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say he loves it to. I’m also going to assume he’s quite thankful I’m supportive of his golfing hobby.

We moved to North Dakota nearly 10 years ago (because it turns out it was God’s will and) because I fully supported my husband in his endeavors.

I don’t tell him he can’t go to the movies with his friends, or go hang out with his dudes. He doesn’t have a wife who waits up if he isn’t home at a certain hour or who gets mad if he wants to spend some time with people other than me.

I don’t ever want him to resent me, and I don’t ever want him to feel like I’m holding him back from pursuing things he wants to achieve. What kind of a marriage thrives on resentment?

No – the ball and chain had to go. My marriage to Brent has been one of the most freeing, beautiful, enchanting events I’ve ever had. Our marriage isn’t based on restrictions. It isn’t based on strict rules we never lived by before we got married. It isn’t a prison term. It isn’t a dutiful obligation.

Our marriage is a choice to stay committed to one another, to support one another, and to further the other on beyond what they thought possible.

Our marriage is a chance to have fun, freedom, and fulfillment with a partner along for every step of the way. A chance to spur one another on to grow spiritually and personally.

Our marriage is no ball and chain.

We still have our days, of course. There are days I’d love to hit him over the head with a weighted ball, and I can tell you he has days he’d probably like to put me in a chain-gang. But marriage, as a whole, is not at all relative to a prison term.

It’s tough at times. Marriage is flat out hard. I’m not going to pretend we’ve had a cakewalk relationship for the last several years. We haven’t. We’ve had several struggles – some of them incredibly severe and painful – but we’ve overcome and walked through to the other side together.

If your marriage has you feeling trapped, weighted down, or stunted in personal growth – I’m sorry to tell you this: you’re doing it wrong.

I’m not competing with my husband. I’m not trying to pull him back while I sprint further ahead. It’s not a race to any one achievement or accomplishment. It’s not anything I need to regard as one of us being in control or command while the other falls in line.

Husbands – Wives – break up with your ball and chain. Run free, and run fast alongside your spouse while chasing your dreams together. It’s not like the movies. It’s going to be messy. It’s going to be laden with mistakes along the way. But it’s also going to be a tremendous help to your marriage, when you set yourselves free to support one another.

Who’s with me in dumping their ball and chain?

Why I Married a Jerk

Later this month marks 12 years since Brent and I walked down the aisle. Normally this time each year, I write a mushy-gushy post on how amazing he is, and I wish him a happy anniversary with butterflies and unicorns and lots of happy confetti. Usually.

This year, I’m giving up the unicorns. This year, as we commemorate the years we’ve survived married life together, I’m coming at it from a different approach. This year, I’m going to tell you why I married a jerk.

WHY I MARRIED A

While on our honeymoon, I was recovering from salmonella and strep throat. (Hot mama, right here…) Before we embarked on a long hike around Mount Rushmore, he all but begged me to swallow a couple Immodium before our trek. What he didn’t know was I felt totally fine for the first time in days, and in spite of my confidence, he wasn’t convinced. I left it in the car. Halfway through our trek, it hit. I was in a lot of pain, rocking on a bench along the trail, holding my gut, moaning audibly, and praying silently.

My husband of 48 hours got right up in my face and said, “If you [poop] your pants, I am NOT taking you back to the hotel to change.”  His demeanor in my moment of vulnerability had me in tears. He was upset. Not the kind of upset like, “Oh no, I really messed up as her husband.” Brent was the kind of upset where he knew, if I had just listened to him, we probably wouldn’t be in this mess. Forget the fact I had salmonella and strep throat. He had tried to help me out, but neither of us had any way of knowing. It was somehow my fault I couldn’t control when salmonella reared its ugly head. It was a long, painful walk the last half of that trail, but we made it without incident (or accident).

Total jerk.

While we’re sharing the nitty gritty, let me tell you about one of the first big fights I remember as a newly married couple. When I say big, I mean B I G. There were swearwords yelled. There were doors slammed. There was much shouting and carrying on. B I G.

I was sitting at the computer copying content from one program, pasting to another. Brent came into the room, saw what I was doing, and told me he knew a way to do it better. I didn’t care. I was in the middle of it, what I was doing was working, and I did. not. care. He kept insisting I let him show me. I insisted he find something else to do. He came over……you’re not going to believe this. He marched to where I was sitting and grabbed the mouse RIGHT OUT OF MY HAND and began to do it his way. I shot him a look reserved for murderous criminals. I said some bad words. So did he. I yelled. So did he. I slammed the door on my way out. He was upset. Not the “Oh crap I really messed up as her husband” kind of upset. He was upset in the – you guessed it – way he thought I was over-reacting, I was unwilling to learn, and how dare I refuse his efforts to “help“!

Jerk.

These two events happened within the first couple of months of our marriage. I couldn’t believe I had married such a jerk. I mean, he, as my husband, was supposed to be loving, giving, considerate, kind, romantic, princely….and all these realistic expectations I had of my husband weren’t coming to fruition.

Jer…..wait a minute.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

It may be Newton’s third law of motion, but it’s also marriage’s third law of unfair fights. The first and second laws would have something to do with disgruntled male and female members of the marital union.

It’s been 12 years, people. If Brent came and ripped a mouse out of my hands today, I’d simply de-pants him and call it even. I’d also be completely surprised, because we have both grown – a LOT – in our relationship with one another. If he’s a jerk, I don’t even want to know the title I wear.

None of us know what we’re doing when we get married. It takes a long time to figure it out. Brent and I have by no means arrived. We’re still growing, still learning, still forgiving one another when we act like jerks.

The fact of the matter is: Brent is a gem. Yes he does silly things that make no sense to me. Yes he makes me angry. Yes we still have bouts of intense fellowship, though not anything like in the early days. And for every action he makes that’s a detriment to relational bliss, I provide the equal and opposite reaction that takes us further down that wayward trail. He’s not the only one who falls short in this relationship, and he certainly isn’t the only one who makes mistakes. I’m at fault a good 60% of the time (on a good day).

He doesn’t make me mad on purpose. He doesn’t seek ways to anger or hurt me. He doesn’t intentionally ruffle my feathers. He honestly believes in his heart he loads the dishwasher the correct way. But instead of tearing him down, or insulting his intentions, or questioning his motives, I will commend the things he does well. I will shout his praises at every opportunity. I will brag about him to whomever will listen. I will shine a light on his great qualities and give him the credit due him. I will honor him as the worthy and beautiful child of God he is. I will pray for him, no matter what I’m feeling, and I will beg God to heap blessing upon this man I’ve vowed to spend the rest of my life with.

Because if I don’t? If I don’t respect him, encourage him, or build him up, I’m not giving anything in this marriage and I’m only taking. And if I’m only taking, that makes me a jerk. And if I’m a jerk….well….Brent might have a lot of blogging to do.

It turns out I didn’t marry a jerk. I married a kid who had a lot of growing up to do. He married a gal who still doesn’t listen to him some of the time. Over the many years we’ve been together and the many struggles we’ve overcome, he’s grown into the husband I always knew I wanted. No, I didn’t marry a jerk. I married a prince-in-progress.

In the meantime, insert butterflies and happy confetti here. Happy anniversary, babe. I’m sorry I called you a jerk once… xo

Broken Together: My Husband Does Not Complete Me

Twelve years we’ve been married. Twelve years. Well, not yet, but in another couple of months. I was going to save this post for our anniversary, but I’m kind of an impatient person.

A lot of people lost bets after we made it past the five year mark. We struggled mightily through year six. And seven. (and year one, and two, and…) And here we are, year 12. We’ve been together (more or less) for the last 14 years. That’s a long time when you’re as young and care-free as I am. And I’m pretty young. Like…pretty young. In my heart.

I’m madly in love with my husband. He makes me laugh. He pretty much cracks me up. A lot. He holds me when I’m feeling down. He hugs me for no reason. He compliments my cooking. And my outfits. He gives me butterflies in my stomach. Either because he makes me giddy, or irate. We shuffle between those two reasons from time to time. He’s super handsome, has a million dollar smile, and big strong arms. He was the only person I wanted by my side, every minute, after we lost Harlynn. I could not have survived life after losing her without him. My husband, in my eyes, is kind of a big deal.

I love my husband more than I thought I could love any man. Ever.

But he does not complete me.

Wonderful as he is, my husband has flaws. He has shortcomings. He disappoints me from time to time. We argue. We disagree. We have bouts of intense fellowship. He screws up. He makes mistakes. He’s even wrong once in a while.

If I, as a greatly flawed individual trust that another greatly flawed individual will complete me, my hopes in that “you complete me” junk will leave me nothing more than a sour taste of brutal disappointment.

Brent is a smart guy. Really smart. Sometimes he’s so smart it makes me angry. Like when we’re arguing about something and he’s so busy making so much sense with his smartness, he doesn’t understand that I just need a hug and some M&Ms.; He’s smart enough to know, though, that he cannot complete me. Nor does he want to even try. Can you imagine the burden of that responsibility? The overwhelming pressure and expectation of first, finding all my faults and flaws and then working overtime to compensate for those – all for me? Forget about fixing yourself or having any issues – you have to complete ME. My needs. My shortcomings. You have to make up the difference in whatever I lack.

No way. No. Way.

 
Relationships aren’t easy. They aren’t even romantic. There are sometimes, romantic things that happen within a relationship, but the relationship itself is not romantic. It’s messy. And confusing. And a lot of work to maintain. You can take a walk in the park, which might be romantic, but you can’t expect your relationship to function as if it, as its own entity, were a walk in the park. Come back down to earth here for a minute.

Brent and I have been together for a long time. I know he isn’t perfect (no matter how close he may come at times.) We all know I’m not perfect. Both Brent and I know, appreciate, and understand that neither of us could complete the other. Please tell me you understand the same regarding your relationship?

There is only One perfect being – that being Jesus Christ – who could complete us. Yet we struggle so often when others disappoint us. When others let us down. Because they should love us enough to know better. They should have known how their words or actions would affect us. They’re supposed to be our other (or better) half. Without this person, I am only half the person I would have been before I realized I needed another half a person to spend my time with.

Wait, what?

You’ve heard it said before that marriage isn’t 50/50. It’s 100/100. If two people each buy half a sandwich and mush them together, they don’t have a whole sandwich. They still have two halves of sandwiches. If you’re an incomplete person, mushing yourself together with another person isn’t going to make a whole person. It’s going to make your life complicated and insane and you’re gonna have to understand a thing or two about communication, fighting fair, and what it means to commit. You can’t just go mushing around with people expecting to be made whole. Stop the mushing.

There is going to be so much hurt, heartache, and suffering that you’ll endure in life. Don’t expect another person to complete you – in those times especially – but choose wisely who you’ll allow to carry your heart for you in those moments when you can’t. Choose who you’ll want by your side when the only thing you see is pain. Choose who you’ll allow to see you in your most vulnerable moments, and who will help you – not live for you, but help you – come out the other side of that tunnel. And if you have your person, stop expecting them to do the completing for you. Meet them in the middle. As much as you need support and understanding, they need twice as much. Well, Brent needs twice as much, because he’s stuck with me.

I love my husband. I would fight, die, and haunt someone for him. He has some weird different habits, and he doesn’t do everything the way I do. He raps in his sleep. (Okay, it was one time, but it was hilarious.) He knows too much about things other than how to not shrink my brand new shirts. But I love him. To the moon and back. To the ends of the earth. I would eat a mushroom for him. *shudder* But he does not complete me.

This song – this awesome, captivating, amazing song – makes me cry. Of course, a lot of things make me cry. But listen to this song. And keep a tissue nearby just in case.

Brent and I are both broken people. That’s why we have Jesus. And because we have Jesus, we’re able to hold on tighter to each other. Loving Jesus together completes our marriage. Our family. Not because of anything we do on our own. But because of everything we’re able to do through Him.