Thursday, July 27, 2017

The First Fifteen

It's been a few years since I've shared, so in honor of my 15 year wedding anniversary today, I thought I would break the silence and share a little story.  (I apologize for the length... it's been a while.)

Once upon a time, there was a girl and a boy.  As the story goes, they fell in love and got married.  This girl thought the boy would be the answer to all of her problems.  When she needed peace, she attempted to create peace with the boy.  She needed joy, and couldn’t always find it with him.  She desperately needed love, and although the boy loved her very much, it was never enough to fill up the hole in her heart.  She continued to try to make herself happy, to fill that void in her life.  She was determined to make their marriage work because divorce had become the new cool, and for once, she didn’t want to fit in.   

To fill the void in her life, the girl often found herself turning to shopping, to social media, and to food.  She hoped that the things she bought would bring her true happiness, but they did not.   Social media was a temporary and false fix for the loneliness she felt inside, and control became like a drug for the girl.  When she felt completely empty, the girl tried to control- anyone and anything.  She became the resident know-it-all, and ultimately began to push the boy away.  Because she couldn’t “feel” his love the way she wanted to, she reasoned (based on life experiences) that she must not be ‘enough’ in some way.  She tried to change herself.  She dieted.  She changed the way she dressed, the way she acted, the way she looked.  She changed the way their house looked and the way they did life at home.  She was convinced that if she somehow changed just enough, she could finally fill the void inside, and feel like she was finally ‘enough’ to deserve the love she desperately desired.  

But these changes did not impact the boy the way she had hoped.  You see, while the girl was trying to change herself to be what society says the boy should want, the boy was convinced that, based on her words and actions, he must somehow not be ‘enough’ for her.   The boy convinced himself that if he could just work harder, do more, somehow BE more, then he could finally show her how loved she really was.  The boy worked, and worked, and worked as hard as he could.   He was the hardest working man the girl had ever met.  She admired his ability to get up day after day, no matter how tired he was, and go to work to support their family.  The boy worked two jobs, and in an attempt to find fulfillment, even volunteered regularly at their church.  He was determined to show the girl how much he loved her, but the girl was blinded by her own emptiness.  

Although she loved this boy, she felt like she just couldn’t ever be enough for him.  She had convinced herself that if she were enough, he might be more eager to help out when he got home.  He might see her, exhausted and weary, and step in to help out.  Likewise, the boy worked so much at his jobs and at his church that he thought surely the girl would notice, appreciate all of his efforts, and suggest that he should rest while she took care of the kids and the household.   

Instead, the girl complained.  She had been running on fumes for what seemed like years, and could no longer manage to continue trying to make the boy happy.  She had convinced herself that she could not ever make him happy, and she grew depressed.  Anger grew out of this depression, and began to consume their house.   The boy continued to work, in hopes that his efforts would be noticed and the girl would finally be satisfied.   For if the girl could be satisfied, then he, too, would be satisfied and the two could finally be at peace. 

However, when the girl saw the boy, she felt rejected, hurt, frustrated, sad, lonely, and mostly like she had failed at marriage.  The way she looked at him changed from admiration to frustration, and she found it easy to take her frustrations for herself out on him.  She would often give in to the temptation to control and criticize or micro-manage him just to make herself temporarily feel better about her own shortcomings.  The boy felt badly that he could not do more to help, to change the situation, and he began to beat himself up.   While listening to her constant criticism he now believed that he, too, was a failure, and would never be able to satisfy the girl’s need for love.  He had pursued her so passionately, so lovingly in the beginning, but now he had nothing left to give.  The boy, too, eventually began to be consumed by this depression. 

But God.

The entire time that they were suffering in their struggles, God saw them, and He never left them.  He knew the girl had been looking for His love all along, but God is a patient God, and He would not force the girl to receive His love.  Instead, he drew her in with His loving kindness.  He wooed her by loving her (even when she felt the least lovable) and He spoke truth where she had previously been wounded by lies.  He began to open the eyes of the girl so that He could show her how loved she truly was.  Days, weeks, and months passed.  The depression started melting away.  At last, the girl began to see the truths about how loved she really is and about how incredible her husband really is.  

Time with the Lord turned from a chore in to a necessity for the girl- she found that if she missed time sitting in the presence of The Lord, that she was short-tempered, impatient, rude, selfish, and judgmental.   Likewise, she discovered that when she made time to open her Bible (not just the app, but the actual paper pages), the words of God jumped off of the page and became like a soothing balm, offering peace for her mind, body, and spirit.  When she asked The Lord a question, she discovered that He really was answering all along.  She discovered that she wasn’t alone (and had not been, not ever- in spite of the lies that Satan had thrown her way).  This truth brought a deep-seeded peace to her soul.  

Over time, the girl noticed that the hole she had grown so accustomed to, had been lovingly filled.  The girl could see that their time together had begun to heal her, but her husband was still hurting.  The girl asked The Lord to heal her husband.  She watched and waited, but the healing didn’t happen right away (even though the movies suggest that it should.)  The girl became frustrated and in attempts to help her husband experience what she had been blessed to experience, she picked back up that false sense of control, abandoning her time with God.  The impatience kicked back in.  The nagging started again.  The well-intentioned wife-preaching started again.  Convinced that he was a complete failure, the boy remained depressed.

And then one night when the girl was closest to rock bottom, she opened her mouth the say the unthinkable, but God stepped in.  It was as if God, himself, placed His Almighty hand over her great big mouth and turned everything horrible that she was about to say in to soothing words for her husband’s soul.  The girl stopped speaking.  Unable to continue with the horrible thoughts (lies) she had been thinking, she asked God to show her how He saw her husband in that moment.  The picture that came to her mind was a great big man completely hunched over- defeated and discouraged.  In the picture, he lacked the confidence to look into his wife’s face, so instead he kept his head down and continued to beat himself up over all of his perceived failures.  

The girl was immediately heartbroken for the boy.  She could finally see how her words had affected him, and so through her beautiful-ugly cry, she confessed her thoughts, her attempts to control, and her lack of faith in The Lord’s timing.  And then God spoke to the boy that day.  He told the boy some things that the girl could never have known on her own.  He began to lift the head of the boy, offering hope, truth, love, and freedom.  During this season, the boy started to walk a little taller.  God continued to bring about much-needed peace and healing.  It was during this season that God united the couple with an unshakable bond.  

Don’t misunderstand- that one experience didn’t mean that they would never argue or that they would magically live “happily ever after”, but it did teach them both that the voids in their lives were placed there by God, so that He could gently draw the boy and the girl to Himself and so that He could fill each of them with what they needed most.  Knowing this, the burden of filling that void was lifted from each of them, and they were free to laugh again- free to just “be”.  

And when the time came that the boy and the girl were finally free, each naturally began to fill up the proverbial  “love tank” of the other.  It happened out of an overflow of what God had been doing in their lives.  Sometimes it happened in the little things- God might remind the boy that the girl was parched, and the boy might bring the girl a drink, exactly when she needed it.  This might make the girl feel loved, and on the cycle went.  

The girl now knew that she was no longer enslaved to the prison of working to become enough, or working to earn love, and finally felt free to give love.  Through time spent listening to God, the girl came to understand that she was fully loved, flaws and all, because of who she was, not because of anything she had (or had not) done.  She was set free by the truth that she was already (and always had been) enough- no hair dye needed.  

And that, my friends, is the story of how we survived these first fifteen years.  

Thank you for reading and following our story.  I have a feeling there is much, much more to come!  

No longer enslaved, 

No longer I,

The Real Life Mom.