Posts Tagged ‘love’

A Decade of Marriage Means I’m Qualified To Tell You These Things

Husband and I have now been married for ten years.

Day One. We were so young and naive, and had so much hair.

Day One. We were so young and naive, and had so much hair.

Over the past ten years, I’ve been contemplating and collecting thoughts about what I’d say if and when Paul and I reached the Decade marker in our marriage. I decided a while ago that if we made it to ten years we’d be a Legit Married Couple. Because listen: Ten years is a long time, and a lot of shit comes up over that time. I figured if we made it ten years, we’d have some Real advice to give young couples on what to expect from marriage, and what to do when the bottom falls out (because it will).



I have many stories to tell.

About the highest points on the tallest mountains and the glory of the Lookout. About the coldness and darkness and loneliness and hopelessness of the super dark and terrifying valley when it feels like death is poisoning your marriage. 



So many stories.



Lucky for you, I’ve boiled ten years down to three major points and some light housekeeping. 



Oh. And quick aside: While I don’t presume every married couple are Jesus followers, for those who are, everything I’m about to say is predicated on the assumption that Jesus is True North on your compass. Your spouse is with you on the adventure through this meandering jungleous territory; Jesus is your guide. You’re partners following One.



So the Superseding Point Above All: Keep Jesus as your one and only God. Do not make your spouse your god, or you will be grievously disappointed and ruined. Seriously. Don’t do it.



Moving along.



1. ON FIGHTING: Nobody tells you this – or maybe it’s just that nobody told ME this – but it’s important, maybe most important: At some point, you will have such a massive fight, a colossal, feels-earth-shattering falling out, that you will think you’re the only couple in the history of all time to ever fight like this or deal with this kind of scandal. It will make you believe your marriage is different; that it is so deeply and irrevocably flawed that it cannot survive. You will look at couples around you and think, “Sure, we all argue and fight and have our shit. But only we are facing this.”



Listen to me. Take this in, and hold it close. This is your life jacket, okay? 



You’re not.
You’re not the first to fight like this.

You’re not the only ones dealing with this.

You’re not the first to wonder if your marriage can survive it. 

You are not alone. 



And most importantly: This is normal.



Literally every couple comes to a point where they’re like, “Are you kidding me? This cannot be normal? This cannot be something every couple deals with. That cannot be real.”

But it is, and that is so important to remember because it will help you to not give up.

Every couple has or will be here, and so, so, so, so, so many have come through it not only alive, but stronger. Not only that, so, so, so, so, so many couples have survived worse. So trust me: You can survive this, whatever your this is.

Three days into Year 11, we climbed a mountain together. We'd already climbed a few metaphorical ones. This real one was just as hard, and just as beautiful to conquer.

Three days into Year 11, we climbed a mountain together. We’d already climbed a few metaphorical ones. This real one was just as hard, and just as beautiful to conquer.

That’s not to say it’s healthy. It’s almost definitely not healthy (unless you’re one of those couples who argues really sweetly slash doesn’t argue at all and then you have a minor little spat and you’re like OH MY GOSH WHO DID I MARRY!? Then your arguments are healthy but – and I say this with all sincerity – your lack of fighting my be unhealthy. But anyway…).



The thing is, don’t be afraid of fights. And don’t be afraid to ask for help when the fighting gets out of hand. All marriages need counseling at some point. Call a therapist. Don’t be ashamed to do that. In fact, keep one on call. If you’re willing to see a doctor for a general preventative health maintenance, be willing to see a therapist for marital health. 



And keep one on call for yourself too.



2. ON BABIES: So the fear is that everything is going to change when you have a baby, right? That your sex life is gonna disappear. Women fear the disappearance of their bodies. Men fear… well I don’t know what men fear, but I bet they fear the disappearance of their wives. Both fear the disappearance of their marriage. Or at least, what it was.



This is the true thing I can tell you: 
All of that is real. Everything, and I mean everything, is going to change. 



Your sex life is going to be way different than it ever was before. You’re gonna have less of it. It’s gonna have to be quieter (unless you’re creepy and think it’s fun to make your kids listen to you having sex. In which case, as I keep saying, hire a therapist.) Sometimes, maybe most of the time, you’re gonna have to schedule when to do it. Seriously. And that’s okay.



You’re not gonna be sleeping anymore. Baby is gonna wake you up at all hours of the night, and it’s not gonna stop when she’s in her own room, because nightmares happen and noises happen and sick happens and kids who want to cuddle with mom and dad happen. 



Spousal needs are gonna go to the back burner for a bit, not because they’re less important but because they’re less immediate. A hungry baby has to eat. A kid’s broken foot needs medical attention on date night. Stuff just… comes up.



So your marriage isn’t gonna get quite as much attention as it did before kids. You spouses won’t get as much of each other’s attention as you did before kids. Time will need to be shared. Dating will have to be a deliberate thing you do. But the time you save for each other will be better, more quality time.



But listen to me: When I say everything changes, it changes for the better. If and when you choose to have kids, it will strengthen your marriage, because you’ll be partners in raising this little human that was literally made from Love. You won’t ever want to go back. You may look back on pre-kid days and remember them as joyful, fun, spontaneous days that you loved and are so glad you had. (And please. Please please please take time for your marriage, because that Just Us time is holy.) But you will never want to go back. 



Unless. 



Unless you had a baby to fix your marriage.



Don’t ever be so stupid as to try and fix your broken or breaking marriage by having a baby. Instead of having a baby, HAVE A THERAPIST. I am so serious about this. 



If you have a baby to fix a broken marriage, your baby will not fix your broken marriage. Instead, your broken marriage will break your baby. Don’t do that. 



Now, once you’ve had your amazing baby and everything has changed…



Show each other affection often, and in front of your kids.

Gross them out.

Make them go “ewwwwww! Get a room you guys!” 

Be good wives and husbands because your kids are learning how to love and be loved by a Lover by watching you.



And here is the Truest Truth I’ve ever heard, and my daddy told it to me long ago:
The most important gift you can give your kids is love for each other.
So always, always put each other first. 

Always.

Your kids don’t need to be your sun and stars, the thing you orbit around and hang on for Life.
Plus, putting kids at the center is way too much pressure for them.
They need to be free to hang on you.
Don’t ever hang on them. Ever. Ever ever ever.
Also, your kids don’t need stuff; they need stability.

And speaking as one whose parents literally went through hell and back a dozen times over some pretty major things, I know this is True.
Your child doesn’t need a fancy house or organic food or the best schools or financial stability, though those are all nice things. 

They need their parents. 

Stable marriages make stable parents make stable kids.



3. ON EVERYTHING ELSE:



Love each other fiercely.
Be unwaveringly selfless.

Apologize quickly.

And be the first to apologize. Don’t wait for your spouse to say she or he is sorry first. 



There will be times when you feel like your spouse is walking all over you. Demanding or expecting too much. You will feel like you’re giving, giving, giving and receiving nothing in return. 



Sometimes that feeling will reflect what’s actually truly happening.

Keep on giving. 



This may be an unpopular point, but I believe it with everything in me:

Lay down. 

Lay yourself down for your spouse.
Let yourself be walked on.

If there is one person in your life who deserves to walk on the softer ground of your back or belly, rather than the rocky ground beneath you, it’s the person you’ve given your life to, and who’s given their life to you.
Be willing to give up your comfort; be willing even to be pained and splintered to spare them the pain and splinters.
You can do this thing.
It is hard and painful and awful, and it bears the most wonderful fruit.




Do not punish or resent your spouse for having a bad day, week, month, or season.

Instead, be their respite. Their resting place. Their safe place to be broken and hurt. 

Be the place where they can be their absolute worst, while you remain your absolute best.




Also, don’t be the reason they’re having a bad day, week, month, or season.

When push comes to shove (not physically – don’t ever tolerate physical violence or aggression; Duh.)…
When you’re at the point where you cannot give any more of yourself to your spouse, and they cannot give anything more to you, pour into your marriage.
Because this union is holy. It is sacred. 


When you can’t be For Each Other, you can be For Your Marriage. 



GENERAL HOUSEKEEPING: 


Be nice.

Fight fair. 

Don’t say mean things.

Listen carefully.
De-escalate.

Focus on small things because small things become big things that are way bigger than Big Gestures.

Do the big gestures sometimes, but not always, or they’ll become meaningless. 

Drink morning coffee together. 

Kiss each other hello and goodbye.

Say “I Love You” often.

Say “I was wrong” often. 

Make dinner together. 

Go on dates. 

Hold hands. 

Make out in the car and in the shower. 

Smile at each other.
Talk about real things.
Communicate.
Strive to understand rather than to be understood.
Undress in front of each other, and praise each other’s bodies. 

Don’t entertain the thought of any other person. (The grass is never actually greener, okay?)
Make long, exhaustive lists of each others strengths, 

Highlight them often, 

Add to the list daily,
and 

DO NOT MAKE LISTS OF ANYTHING ELSE.

(Get me here? No record keeping, people. Do not keep records of wrongs.)
Watch movies you don’t want to watch just because your spouse likes them. 

Look at each other across a crowded room, and wink.

Praise each other in front of other people.

Never, ever, ever mock or degrade one another in front of other people.
Create the kind of marriage you want your kids to have when they’re grown up. 



And don’t give up.


Don’t give up. 

Don’t give up.


Don’t give up.

Franklin Graham, Amygdalas, and the Futility of Fighting with Fear

Amygdala of the brain, artwork

Amygdala of the brain, artwork

I made the disastrous mistake of accidentally reading today’s Islamophobic diatribe from Franklin Graham (how did this show up in my newsfeed? I *blocked* all FG posts ages ago!?).

But instead of getting mad at him or losing my shit over the comments (because seriously – my head pops off and fire erupts **exactly like** on InsideOut, which is the most emotionally accurate film ever made – don’t even try to debate me on this.), I scrolled through comments, careful NOT to read them, and prayed a blessing on each Image Bearer who commentstands either in solidarity against Muslims, or against those who’re against Muslims.

Because listen: Scared people don’t need to be yelled at or berated. They don’t need to be mocked. They don’t even hear it.

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Light and Shadows

Sunday, July 15 2012: Teaching from Colossians 2:15-17, our pastor spoke on what he calls “God’s shadow activity.” For over 25 years, as a professor and expert in theology, he has tried to make sense of the God we see on the Cross -who abhors wars and violence, taught us to turn the other cheek and sacrifice ourselves in love for even our enemies, and expressed that core truth in the most inconceivable way when He suffered a God-forsaken death by crucifixion – and the God of the Old Testament who seems, at times, to have been a genocidal, ethno-centric maniac who commanded Israel time and again to slaugher hundreds of thousands of men, women, children, infants.

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Unto the Least of These

In the midst of the current political climate as we all explore the foreign and economic issues that will inevitably (and have already, in so many ways, proven to) define a generation of a nation, it’s often difficult to pull out the lens and widen the perspective. To remember to look at things in terms of morality and individual responsibility, and bring the health and progress of our country – and our world – back to our own level, taking it into our own hands.

But then there are times we hear or read encouraging clips reminding us that ultimately, we have the power to change and rearrange the way things are. In fact, it is the calling for which we’ve been especially enabled.

Over the past couple days, I’ve stumbled across some incredibly engaging and empowering stories of people like you and me refusing to leave our world and its care – especially that of the least of these – in the hands of politicians, or really, anyone else. These people refuse to assume anyone else will do what must be done and choose to use their voices to empower the weak and provide for the orphan and widow.

Yesterday, I read Relevant magazine’s review of the Art*Music*Justice tour with Sara Groves, Drek Webb, Sandra McCracken, Brandon Heath, and Charlie Peacock. And while the article certainly highlighted the sickening ability of the artists to weave melodies and lyrics in such a beautiful way, the focus of the article was on emphasizing the purpose of these artists whose mission is to use song, video, and prose to engage and empower listeners, driving them to action on behalf of worldwide victims of injustice. And as an artist and singer-songwriter, I have to say how righteously jealous I am of these artist’s ability to tell a story of injustice and hope in song. It is such a struggle for me to get out of my own head and thoughts and write about issues more important than me, especially because I feel so inexperienced in the writing. But they inspire me…to go, see, experience, and bring it back as fuel for the engine that will drive us to the end of poverty, sex trafficing, genocide, and all worldwide injustice.

And it all leads me to one inevitable conclusion. If we, who even in the midst of economic crisis, are still among one of the wealthiest nations on earth, then certainly we have the means to act on behalf of those Christ loves. No longer is it simply an opportunity, or even an obligation or responsibility (though I do believe, given the commands of Christ and the sheer volume of Scripture’s references to making the care of orphan and widow our primary concern, as they are His dearest).

Instead, it is our greatest honor.

That we humans who so often find thousands of reasons to avoid others and focus on ourselves have been not only commissioned with the care of the victims and impoverished, but entrusted with their care tells us that not only does God want this from us and for them, but that He believes we can do it because He – the Almighty God of the univerise – has equipped us to accomplish it.

Besides the fact that our God is so passionate for the fatherless and the widow that He has embedded in each of us a similar passion (that only needs to be uncovered), it is the greatest hope to realize He has chosen and specifically equipped we who love Him and love what and who He loves to accomplish His will among the least of these.

My heart bursts with fiery passion that you would know the deep riches of the love of Christ, and to pour this same love on those He so desperately loves and longs to see us serve. There is no such great hope, nothing so exciting or empowering among politicians, no matter who we each believe ought to be the next President of the United States.

Ultimately, beloved ones, we are the ones with the tools to change the world. We have been entrusted with the care of the victim, with stewardship of the Created earth, with the spiritual, emotional, and intellectual development of our children, and most importantly, with the love of Christ going into the world. We are His ambassadors whose fight is for justice and peace around the world.

This is our charge; this is our responsibility; this is our honor.

Let us not sit idly by waiting for someone else to do what is only ours to do!

GET INVOLVED THROUGH ANY OF THESE (AND SO MANY MORE) ORGANIZATIONS:

ONE-TIME INVOLVEMENT
(Give a one-time gift to any of these organizations and watch it go for miles):

Freedom’s Promise (rescuing victims of sex trafficing and restoring hope through freedom)
Blood:Water Mission (digging wells and providing medicine to meet the two greatest needs of Africans today: clean water and clean blood)
Charity:Water (100% of donations taken in are applied to clean water projects throughout Africa)
ONE (Eliminating poverty worldwide)
Food for the Hungry (FHI provides the basic physical needs of children worldwide while developing programs for education, spiritual development, and international advocacy.)

MONTHLY INVOLVEMENT
(Make a monthly committment to supporting individual children and village projects with as little as $7
per month)

Mocha Club (This organization, with which I’m an artist sponsor, takes $7 per month – the cost of two mochas – and funds the development of orphanages, rescue villages, universities, medical facilities, and more throughout the continent of Africa. Bonus: If you join my team supporting the Child Mothers Village of Hope in Gulu, Uganda, you get FREE downloads of BOTH my CDs!)
Compassion International (Through Compassion, we can sponsor children from almost everywhere in the world, and with just $32 per month provide for their education, medical care, clothing, food, and future hope.)
World Vision (Similar to Compassion, one person with about $30 per month can become a child’s sponsor and watch their growth and development over the course of their youth.)

USE YOUR HANDS (Donate Your Time)
(Call your local organization headquarters and get involved on the ground either in your own hometown or around the globe through any of these organizations.)

Habitat for Humanity
(HH not only builds houses for lower-income families, but offers financial and lifestyle coaching for all its receipients while giving everyday people an almost weekly opportunity to serve our neighbors.)
Youth for Christ (Contact your local branch and find out how you can serve the youth in your community by either coaching a group or hosting a party, etc.)
Goodwill Industries, Salvation Army, etc. (Locate your nearest store and ask the manager how you can volunteer.)
Mercy Ships (Join a Mercy Ships crew for a minimum of one year and be part of saving lives through providing FREE major medical operations and basic health care for the impoverished in Africa and the region.)
American Peace Corps (Similar to Mercy Ships, you can join for a year and travel the globe meeting basic needs of people in thousands of impoverished or developing areas.)
Contact Your Local Homeless Shelter, Domestic Violence Shelter, or Teen Shelter and find out how you can help, whether by volunteering your time (or gathering a group to serve), or gathering goods for their use.