Monday, July 27, 2015

I Need You

"It's taken us a long time to get here, but I've enjoyed the journey with you."

In just a few precious words, my husband summed up all the ups and downs of our past few years together. We were sharing a quiet moment cuddled close, and I could hear his heartbeat. Why, oh why, were moments like these not more common with us? It felt just like it did when we were first dating. As if our marriage had come full circle in some way. I could feel my heart and mind rest in that moment, not worried about the next. This is how it should always be. I had lost sight of that somewhere along the way. We both had.

I need my husband. And it wasn't until I came to that realization in my heart that I was able to open up to him and be vulnerable. I'm such an independent person. I am the one who anyone can call to be there for them. But in being that person with my husband, I was robbing him of being there for me. 

I need my husband. Not in a co-dependent way, but in a he-makes-me-a-better-person way. He is our family's pioneer, bravely leading us into the next great adventure. He is our provider, braving frigid weather and sometimes dangerous work to give us all we need. He is our patient one when I go flying off the handle. He is our comedian, always finding a way to make us laugh in spite of ourselves. 

I need my husband, but does he know that? The better question is--have I told him? Have I told him how scared and tired I am? Have I told him that I need a defender and protector? Have I told him that many days I just don't know how to be a wife and mother? 

I let him know, alright. I nag and put him down and treat him like a child. I question his every decision and even his motives. And then I wonder why he pulls away. Why he becomes silent and distant. And so I nag some more. And the cycle continues.

But when I humbly ask for help...when I admit that I don't know...oh what a man emerges! My hero! My champion! My knight in shining armor!

My challenge to myself, and to all of you, dear readers, is to let him know. Not by nagging or berating, but by being vulnerable. It's such a scary place to be. But there's no feeling like it when you step across that line. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Stranger in a Strange Land

Walking under the Gervais Street Bridge,
one of my favorite places back home.
I went home to visit last month. My dear, southern hometown filled with the sound of cicadas and the sweet smell of pine. It was good to see familiar faces and visit old stomping grounds. The time spent there with old friends and family is never long enough. 

But for the first time since I had left home, I felt like a visitor coming back. Maybe it was the fact that so many of my friends are living life, and getting married, and raising babies without me. Maybe it's the fact that I had gotten used to the cooler weather up north. Whatever it was, my life in Ohio felt more like home than my life in South Carolina...and I couldn't believe it. 

Something in my heart felt released at that moment. As if I had been grieving the loss of my home for the last two years, and had just now come to terms with it. I will always have my sweet friends and my family and part of my heart there, but here and now is where my home is. Where the Lord has us. With my husband and my little girl. Geography doesn't matter. 

And this really does make all the difference. It frees me to start enjoying the time and place I'm in now. To meet with a new friend and see some new sites. I hear there's lots to see and do here during the summer!

Footbridge we discovered in our new home.

Monday, June 29, 2015

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not

I fell on the bed exhausted. Thoughts I had never dreamed I'd have had been bombarding me for months. And for the first time in years I felt the pangs of an old foe...guilt. I turned on some worship music and cried. I told the Lord how awful and dirty I felt. I lay there arms outstretched and let his love flow over me until I fell asleep. 

This was the turning point for me.

You see, I absolutely adore my husband. For the first four years of our marriage, no matter what financial problem, personal tragedy, or health issue came up, we were a team!  

But this past year I found myself thinking about another guy while I was with him...

Yeah, this was not like me. 

Yeah, I was completely ashamed of it. 

And it didn't just suddenly happen one day. It was far more subtle than that.

It started with something Joe would fail to do or something rude he would say, and immediately I'd hear the lie...he doesn't think you're lovable anymore.

And then he'd be too tired to do anything when he got home, and the lie would surface again...he doesn't want to spend time with you anymore. 

At first I shrugged the little thoughts off. But they came more and more often, and after a while I got too tired to fight.  I started to believe the ultimate lie...your husband doesn't like you anymore.

So I started making some new friends and started finding in them what I thought I was looking for...someone thought I was interesting! After I had spent the last year feeling invisible, someone saw me and wanted to know me!

The lie surfaced in a different way this time...your husband doesn't make you happy anymore...maybe one of them can...

And when I looked up, I saw how far my thoughts had fallen, and how far they had taken me with them. 

We all hear the stories of spouses committing adultery, of families torn by it. We never think it will be us. We never dream that we would be seduced by its call.  I certainly never thought it'd be me. And even though nothing physical had happened, it was still adultery. In my heart, I had already been putting another man in my husband's place. Didn't Jesus say, "anyone who looks at a woman lustfully, has already committed adultery with her in his heart"(Matthew 5:28)? Mine may not have been a sexual lust, but it was an emotional one. That's when I realized I needed help. 

After that surrender to the Lord in tears of shame, He started opening up conversation with mentors who prayed for and encouraged my marriage. And then He opened up conversation with my husband. And I realized that he was having a fight of his own. I had been so caught up in my own battle that I had failed to see how discouraged and alone he was. 

What I realized from this year-long fight in my heart is that any marriage can fall into adultery, that even women are susceptible, and that it doesn't happen overnight. I also realized that it's so important to have people in my life who can encourage and correct me without judging me. People who have been where I am and can show me the way out. If you are in this place, dear sister, please do not fight alone. Bring it all before your Father in heaven and he will bring you people who will help you.