Today I’m 25 (this is being written on Sept 2) and of course it’s only natural that I spend time reflecting. Wow! God has given me a lot! 25. First year of marriage down. First house down. A job placed in my lap directly by him. Awesome friends. Amazing family. Most importantly, he has granted me repentance and allowed me to truly come to know him in a way that most only think they do (that’s another blog post).
Someone could look at my life and say man you’ve got it all. But as I’ve reflected I’ve come to the conclusion that one of my main goals in life is not to portray the highlight reels that come through social media but to help you all to see that
“…….When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.” (So be careful what you wish for) – Luke 12:48 NLT
So let’s talk about what God has called me to with the things he has bestowed upon me, the greatest calling right now being that of a wife!
Whew! When I say it’s only by the grace of God that people stay married, trust me! This first year of marriage for us has been one big trial. I’ve wanted to quit more times than I’ve wanted to go on because being single was so much easier. I’ve contemplated divorce more times than not thinking that it’s best to get out early if I’m going to get out. I’ve had my escape plan to Tennessee in mind multiple times. I’ve questioned if I made the right decision and if I missed God. And some days simply resolved to just be unhappy for the rest of my life because clearly things aren’t going to get better. One conflict turns into a day of not talking turns into multiple days turns into a week of simply being roommates, thereby wasting the precious days God has given us together.
What happened when I said “I do” last year was that I also said “I do” to God. I do agree to allow you to challenge my version of love versus your perfect way of love. I do agree to allow you to expose the pride in my heart that prevents me from submitting and loving Jonathan the way you’ve called me to. The pride that makes me question every decision that isn’t made the way I’d want it to be made and in the way I feel is best. I agree to allow you to uproot the insecurities that prevent me from giving myself completely to Jonathan. The insecurities that expose the lack of trust I have in Jonathan due to the fears in my own heart. I agree to allow you to expose my fears that push me in the direction of control and thereby push my husband away. I do. I do. I do.
I wasn’t ready and I honestly don’t think anyone could be. It’s one of those things that you simply have to experience to know. Jonathan and I did things the right way. We were completely pure in our relationship, waiting to kiss until our wedding day. We had effective boundaries. We always put God first and the struggle was (and is) still real. So let me warn you that saying yes to God is not an escape for hard times in life, but rather an invitation for God to come in and shake up your entire world so that you truly look like the person he intends you to be.
Between the pruning and Satan’s schemes we lost sight of the goal quickly. We lost sight of heaven and the reasons we made the decisions we made which had nothing to do with us and everything to do with God. It became easy to see each other as the enemy and forget that we have an adversary. So all of those thoughts were not of God and were exactly what Satan would want me to believe. Things like are you sure this is who God had for you. You know you wouldn’t have to deal with this if you were single. Life would be so much easier for you if you didn’t have to consider someone else every single day. Get out not while it’s still easy.
The reality is those things may be true. Maybe life would be easier if I was single, but what about what God wants for me? Satan wants me to make everything about what I feel and not God’s plan. He wants me to focus on flaws I feel I see in my husband and not the issues of my own heart. But when I wise up and take a step back I ask, “Wait. Why are you fighting us so hard Satan?”
One of the most important lessons I’m reminded of as I write this is that God has a perfect design for marriage. God intends for marriage to be a reflection of Christ and the church and the amount of love that requires is unreal. No matter how much I feel hurt I’m called to love. No matter how much I disagree I’m called to submit. No matter how hurt I am I’m called to forgive. Needless to say THAT IS HARD!!! But isn’t that exactly what God does for us everyday? Isn’t that exactly what Christ did on the cross? No matter how much we hurt God he forgives and continues to love. Despite knowing all the mistakes we’d make Christ sacrificed himself on the cross all because of love. He had no ulterior motives. Love was/is the only motive. I’ve truly not known what it means to love someone until doing marriage God’s way.
So the insecurities of not being enough. The fears of infidelity I can have. The questions around whether or not I can do this are not from up above. On the contrary God says, “Shell, my son that you read about everyday… I’m trying to get you to look as much like that as possible.” So now I must face these emotions head on for what they truly are and what they expose in my heart.
Buying a home has been a similar experience. God has shown me how much I can find security in a nice, plush savings account as opposed to his ability to supply my needs. After all he gave it to me to begin with. There were so many times I wanted to back out because where we are now is comfortable. It’s safe. But it doesn’t require any faith. So here we go again! Lesson on lesson on lesson.
This world tells us to chase after these kinds of things. I’m here to let you know that the way the world portrays these things is absolutely false. Yes, these things are awesome and meant to be enjoyed in every way. That is absolutely true. But if you’re a Christian who believes in Jesus then know that these things are not about you. They are to serve a greater purpose in the grand scheme of things. You want to be married? Then be prepared to be pruned. You want that better job? Then be prepared to be pruned. You want that new house? Then be prepared to be pruned. All for the glory of God.
So what now? Rest.
“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”
Psalms 46:10 NLT
Cease striving and rest where God has you. There’s nothing wrong with having goals and vision for your life but please don’t allow those things to allow you to become discontent in your current season. You can have everything you thought you wanted in life and still be discontent because that joy, happiness, and security has to come from God alone.
I’m more than happy to talk more about my experiences with anyone who has a listening ear. Thanks for taking the time to read as I pour out my heart. I pray this encourages you in some way.