Tuesday, May 15, 2012

How Sweet It Is {Part 5} “Through My Mistakes"

let me be all he ever dreamed
of loveliness and laughter.
Veil his eyes a bit
there are so many little flaws;
somehow, God,
please let him see
only the bride I long to be,
remembering ever after - 
I was all he ever dreamed
of loveliness and laughter.

~Ruth Bell Graham

It’s framed and tucked in a personal spot in his closet.  Denise walked it down the hall of the church in which I grew up and gave it to him minutes before our wedding.  Our hopes were high, barely into our twenties.  We had not missed a session of our pre-marital counseling, completed all the assignments from our beloved friend and pastor and read every book he had recommended. I had many lengthy discussions with two dear friends who were in wonderful marriages.  These women were transparent with me, teaching me, living in front of me what the Bible says about marriage. I felt so prepared for this natural progression of my life.  I would finish pharmacy school our first year of marriage while he would serve his second church as a youth minister and then we’d make the long drive down I-20 for Jeff to finish seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. It was a great plan and it’s exactly what we did.

But in the months to follow our wedding, those words “loveliness and laughter” began to mock me and I wanted to take that framed poem and hide it until I could become that bride “I long[ed] to be” because, by golly, I’d get there.  I’d figure it out.  I’d be “all he ever dreamed”.  I’d be her.  One day.

But I found out all too quickly “veil[ing]” wasn’t going to be enough coverage for all my flaws.  Nor for his.  We needed black out shades.  We were two sinful people choosing to live in the closest, most intimate, most I’m-all-in-your-business relationship on earth.  How could I have thought I was prepared?  How could anyone?  Two pasts, a zillion ingrained thought patterns, habits, preferences, insecurities, expectations-- all colliding together in a 45 minute ceremony???  Only the supernatural power of God can make it work, make it full of laughter, make it valuable, make it powerful, make it all loveliness, make it glory giving.  Only Him.

I feel very inadequate to write even just a few paragraphs on marriage but I do feel there are some critical things I am learning through the LOADS of mistakes I have made.  And that’s how I share.... through my mistakes.  Read this as humbly as I have tried to write it.

Learn, study and devote yourself to what it means to respect your husband.  You’ll need to ask him what that means to him.  He might be a little embarrassed at first and he may not know right off, but give him some time to think and ask him again later.  These aren’t the kinds of things you want to find out after a dinner party or after a weekend with his family.  How would I know that?  Just a really good guess.  Ask your spouse.  It’s crucial.  It’s at the top of my list. {Though nothing is in any particular order after this.}

Meet his vulnerability with your own.  If your husband goes out on a limb, scooch out there with him.  Don’t leave him there alone having taken the risk with his heart.  If it’s important enough to him to share with you what on his mind and heart {being transparent and vulnerable}, you must treat it as such ~ important.  Share your heart, too and hold his vulnerability as valuable and respect it.  NEVER take advantage of it, especially in conflict.  That’s a cheap shot.  As my wise friend and mentor, Mrs. Summey told me,  "YOU KNOW EACH OTHER'S EASY TARGETS, but you must protect the other's most fragile areas.”  You must.

Pray with each other.  This is not “rank-able”.  It’s in a category all its own.  Find a time to pray and stick with it.  I believe we should have extended prayer with our spouses from time to time but just as powerful is the few minutes in the morning or the short prayer lifted up for one situation during a conversation after the kids are in bed.  Just pray.  It is the road less traveled in marriages and it can make all the difference.  And that’s not just a sweet poem.  Try it.

Figure out ways to show him that you are “in the game” with him.  Yes, that means going out on the limb with him at times and if the limb breaks, you go down together.  There is absolutely no joy in being the one alone-- on the ground or still in the tree. But also try to think of how to do this on a daily basis.  Ask him what he needs.  Put yourself in a position to say “yes” to him.  If we can’t say “yes”, we need to re-evaluate those little white squares on the calendar. Whatever the Lord has called your husband to do, figure it out, learn about it and do what you can to help.  He may only need your cheering from the sidelines.  In some cases, your best assistance may be taking such good care of the home front, he does not feel the pressure of all the duties there.  Ask him how he feels supported by you.  Only he can answer that.

In conflict, pray for a soft heart and that both of you would be committed to the Truth, not to your being right. God’s Truth works.  It’s the ONLY place we have to come back to.  You can pick something else if you want to, but look at all your choices.  How would you ever choose?  The research to pick one is enough to send your head spinning.  Just save yourself the trouble and settle in with His Truth.    If we aren’t pursuing God’s Truth in our marriages, we are going to chase our tail all our married days.  That’s exhausting and frustrating as all get out.  We have found in our own marriage and others, that if both spouses are committed to seeking after God’s Truth, they can get through anything. I am dumbfounded how clouded my mind can get in conflict.  My desire to be right overpowers all reason.  I HAVE to let go of being “right” and instead, be committed to landing on the side Truth.  It always wins anyway.  Oh, it sounds so simple but you know as well as I do, we can get our words so tangled up in a mangled heap over hours and nights and days, we don’t even know where it all began.  That’s why the Truth is so comforting.  It’s always in the same place.  It doesn’t change with the decade.  It’s constant.  It’s easily found.  Be committed to His Truth, not to being right.  Tail chasing isn’t attractive.  Just ask Jeff. 

So, those are my first five on my “what I am learning through my mistakes” list.  I’ll add to this in June for the countdown to our twenty years of marriage.  I am not naive enough to think that everyone can relate to my “list”.  I understand there are real hurts, real wounds, and real loss in many marriages and the needs of your heart can be great.  But still, true healing comes from the Truth of God’s Word.  Find someone who will help you and your spouse hang on to that, who will point you to His Truth and as Tim and Kathy Keller say “roll up your sleeves and get to work.”  It’s the most important work you can do.  


Steve Finnell said...

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Sarah said...

This is so great, Krista! You have much wisdom to give!

Elaine said...

You are such an amazing wife and mommy. So glad to have you as a friend! Thanks for posting....I'm finally reading Keller's book...It's great!