A few people have been hinting to me that I may be not as committed to marrying my fiancé in seven months as I claim to be. This usually happens right after they ask me how Grant and I are doing or what being engaged is like because I end up being honest with them. I tell each and every one of them that it’s weird and it’s hard and I’m sometimes scared.
Yes, I do fear marriage. And with this fear comes another fear — that my fear of marriage means I can’t possibly be ready to get married.
But here’s what I’m learning: my fear of marriage does not primarily stem from my lack of confidence in Grant to be my husband. My fear of marriage primarily stems from my lack of confidence in God to make a way for Grant and I.
Confession: When I first began dating Grant fifteen months ago, I was pretty sure we wouldn’t last. Grant didn’t open doors for me, he was too strange for my taste, he hardly asked how my day was, and he was a terrible kisser. I had my own issues, as well, including but not limited to my infatuation with my ex-boyfriend, my consistent insecurities, and my lack of trust in Grant’s commitment to me.
I honestly can’t explain why we kept going, why I didn’t break things off with him from the get-go. I guess I was just curious to see what might happen. I wondered if Grant could change (because of course, I was more selfishly concerned with him changing than myself).
And he has changed in a lot of ways since we began dating, but not because of my own power. Grant has changed because of his God-given strength and the hand of God in his life. Yes, I have played a role in Grant’s transformation (I taught him to kiss, after all), yet I’m not the one who’s made him into the man he is today.
After undergoing a lot of changes in my own life these past fifteen months, the same is true of Grant relating to my transformation. Grant has helped me believe in love again, but he has not been the one healing my heart. He’s not the one who has made me into the woman I am today. That work has been of God.
Now here we are, getting ready to commit our lives to each other, and I’m scared all over again. I’m wondering if Grant and I can keep changing enough to actually make this whole marriage thing work.
We are still so messed up — my insecurity and anger somehow feeding into his fear and passivity, and vice versa. Fight or flight kicks in. Sometimes I am still about ready to quit. So yes, when people hint that I may not be all that committed to marrying the one I love, they are absolutely right.
I am not committed to marrying Grant if it means that I’ll forever be this woman and he’ll forever be this man. This, to me, means a doomed marriage and a miserable life.
If there’s no chance of change, transformation, or growth, what good would “for better or for worse” be? We would never know anything better or anything worse. We would only know sameness — the same fights, the same pain, the same joy and love every single day. I don’t want that. My love for Grant at forty better trump the love I have for him now at twenty. I don’t want to make a commitment that only means reliving this season over and over again for the rest of my life.
You probably don’t want such a marriage either. We naturally crave growth and progress, no matter how much we love the person sitting across from us at the table.
With this in mind, I think it’s perfectly reasonable for me to sometimes come across as ready to jump ship; I am scaring myself silly by picturing a stale, unmoving, and unsatisfactory future! A marriage like that could be considered one of Dante’s layers of hell.
But here’s what calms my fears: my growing faith that God is a God of hope, renewal, and transformation.
And when I call to mind God’s provision in the past and remind myself of his promises in Scripture for our future, I am so ready to commit, I’d elope today.
I’m like Noah yelling at Allie: “It’s gonna be really hard, and we’re gonna have to work at this every day. But I wanna do that because I want you. I want all of you, forever, you and me, every day.”
Noah can say this because he knows that people don’t remain the same. He knows that they’re going to have to work at being in a relationship every single day for the rest of their lives. Allie is going to have to let go of her fears, as well as her fiancé and her desire to make her family happy. And he knows that over time, they will both have to become different people because only then will they have a chance at a thriving future together.
“Will you do something for me? Please? Will you just picture your life for me? Thirty years from now? Forty years from now? What’s it look like? If it’s with that guy, go. Go! I lost you once. I think I can do it again if I thought it’s what you really wanted. But don’t you take the easy way out,” he begs Allie as hopeful, teary-eyed women everywhere root for them.
When I place my confidence in God, I once again become aware that the people Grant and I are right now are not the people we will be forever. We are being transformed into Jesus’ likeness “with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
As I become more God-aware in the context of our marriage, it doesn’t seem so frightening anymore. It’s still going to be hard, no doubt about that. But it sounds do-able, so do-able that Scripture actually boasts about it.
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior… Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless… This is a profound mystery — but I am talking about Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:22-23,25-27,32).
God boasts in his design of marriage because it is like the beautiful relationship between Christ and the Church. And such a beautiful and sacrificial relationship can be a reality for wives and husbands, no matter how much a profound mystery it may be.
Grant and I want this kind of marriage for ourselves and we believe we can have it. Though we are flawed and doomed to disappoint, God is perfect and faithful to provide.
The transformation that’s required of us as a husband and wife is up to him (and he’s already begun the work). The finances we will need for our shared life will have to be provided by him (and we’ve already seen him provide). The faithfulness marriage calls for will be nurtured and strengthened in us through him (and as you can see, I still have some faithfulness left in me yet). All the glory really must go to God.
I’m not writing this post to defend my decision to marry Grant. I’m actually writing this as a reference and reminder for myself. When I am tempted to focus solely on who Grant and I are in this moment, I know I’m going to need a fresh dose of God-awareness. I have to remember that transformation is taking place and it’s only because of the power of God that we’ll ever have a chance of glorifying him with our relationship for the rest of our lives.
And if you’re thinking of marriage or working towards marriage, then let this be a reminder for you, as well. A beautiful, Christ-centered marriage can be a reality, but not because of your own hard work and merit. You will always fall short and your partner will always fall short. It’s only because of the goodness and power of God that a beautiful, Christ-centered marriage can be a reality.
And if all of this is true, you and I don’t need more fight or flight; we need more faith.
The kind of faith that makes you look at your partner in the eye after they’ve failed you for the hundredth time and helps you say those three words, “I forgive you.”
The kind of faith that makes you bring your partner’s burdens to the feet of Jesus instead of just your own because you know there’s an enemy coming after your partner when you’re not even around and only God can protect him.
The kind of faith that knows that you are not responsible for the growth of your partner and God’s charge for you is to simply love them and build them up despite any frustration, bitterness, or pain.
The kind of faith that empowers you to love with more than a cheap, earthly, conditional love. The kind of faith that will sustain and protect you before your vows, as well as long after them.
I am praying and hoping that God grows this kind of faith in my heart, as well as Grant’s. Right now, I am also praying that he grows this kind of faith in YOUR heart because I know there will come a time when you’ll be scared, too. And when that day comes, I pray that you won’t listen to the lies and you will instead pursue truth.
The truth is that becoming the husband or wife you desire to be doesn’t happen overnight, and you won’t get the husband or wife you desire to have overnight either. Important, sacred things like marriage take time. God’s work takes time. Do what you can with what you have right now, but trust God to do the rest.
Marriage was his design; he will see it to completion (Philippians 1:6).
So this might be a weird thing to write about, but I feel like I’ve reached the point where I don’t really care who reads what I write. As long as one person gets something good out of it, then I’m okay with approaching uncomfortable topics.
And the uncomfortable topic for the day is: a woman’s body.
Men, you can just stop reading now if you want. I wouldn’t blame you for not wanting to dive into the realms of feminine issues in the middle of a Tuesday.
Especially considering I’m going to be discussing the dreaded “time of the month.” AKA PERIODS.
There. I said it.
I’ve been reading this book by Stasi Eldredge (author of Captivating) called Becoming Myself and one chapter in particular really intrigued me because it discussed an element of a woman’s life that I don’t tend to concentrate on so much: the body.
She brings up a very good point. “I am my body just as much as I am my spirit, my soul, my emotions, my dreams, my desires, and my sense of humor” (Becoming Myself p.51)
The body matters, too.
When I really stop to think about it, a majority of conversations or thoughts involving my body are negative and filled with hate.
I HATE getting my period. I HATE cramps. I HATE bloating. I HATE being so incredibly emotional.
And even when I’m not on my period, I find things to complain about. I’m not happy when I’m bloated and I’m not happy when I’m thin. I feel too curvy one day and not curvy enough the next. The circles under my eyes are too dark, my skin is too dry, the hair on my legs grows back too quickly, and LORD ALMIGHTY, how do I control this frizzy hair?
I know I am not the only one who does this because I have friends. And my girlfriends and I are notorious for griping about our bodies together. We actually feel like we’ve bonded after ranting back and forth for five straight minutes about how gross we feel.
And to be honest, I love those conversations. In those moments, I feel free to complain and whine and get all weepy because I know that these other women know EXACTLY what I’m feeling. We even celebrate when we’re on our cycle at the same time because we know we can suffer together. It’s like we’re blood sisters (pun very much intended).
But on the flip side, we don’t have too many conversations praising our bodies. Sure, every now and then we’ll send some selfies to each other (#stunna) on days when we feel particularly pretty (or HOT, if I’m going to be honest). We occasionally gush about how great each other’s hair and outfits and makeup looks. But not so often our own. Most of our discussions pertaining to our bodies and appearance aren’t positive.
I wish this wasn’t so.
I’ve been growing into the idea of loving and cherishing my body for the past several years, but I’m far from fully appreciating it. I haven’t had children yet so I certainly can’t pull the whole “it gives life” card. I’m not married and I’m not having sex so I can’t even pull the whole “it unites me to another person in God’s design” card.
For now, my body seems to just be… my body. It’s just there. I have one. That’s all.
But ladies, there IS so much more to it than that.
This is quite revolutionary for me. I feel like I’m at a point in my life where it’s vital that I begin to change some of my perceptions because one day my body WILL be bringing life into this world and be wonderfully enjoyed by a man I commit the rest of my life to.
If I don’t accept or understand my body now, I might not be able to appreciate it for all that it is when it does do those miraculous things.
The truth is that our bodies are already miraculous.
And when we hate our bodies, it’s like we’re saying, “God, Your design stinks.”
Now I know that we probably won’t change our perception about our bodies overnight. In a few weeks I know I’m going to be griping about cramps all over again. In fact, I have a dreadful Pap smear at the end of this week (TMI maybe) and I’ve been cursing my body for the past week for requiring so much care. I don’t want some doctor investigating my uterus.
Yet I know deep down my body matters. It needs to be taken care of. It needs to be treated nicely.
And I haven’t been treating my body very nicely, at least not with my words or attitude.
I really think that it’s important for us women to start valuing our bodies. If we dedicate so much time tending to our emotional and spiritual needs through encouragement and prayer, then why not our physical needs, too?
Our body needs love.
Our body needs encouragement and prayer and affection and attention. No matter what size we are or what time of the month it is, our bodies should be appreciated. They are gifts.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
Perhaps part of honoring God with our bodies is treating our body nicely. Instead of tearing it down, we acknowledge the beauty of God’s creation. We let our bodies do their thing (menstrual cycles, gaining weight, and all) as a way of surrendering to God’s plan for our lives.
I’m still going to cling to chocolate and Ibuprofen when distress hits, but I’m going to try to not despise what my body is doing. I’ll still cringe as I have a hard time buttoning my jeans, but I’m going to try to not bash my figure. As Stasi puts it, “to be a woman is a glorious thing” (p.52).
Maybe we can just start thanking our bodies for what they go through, even if we aren’t truly grateful. Maybe over time, we really will be able to see ourselves differently in the mirror. I think self-talk really does help. Prayer, too. What if we just started acknowledging things, GOOD things, about our bodies one day at a time?
I wonder if our confidence would grow. Maybe we’d curb some of that insecurity. Maybe we’d be able to survive that time of the month without biting everyone’s head off.
I certainly don’t know what could come of this considering I’m just now starting to wade into the waters of appreciation, but I feel like it’s got to be good for us to some extent, right?
I dare you (if you are a woman) to start taking some of this seriously. Take your bodies seriously.
Your body is beautiful! That’s sometimes difficult to say out loud or even fathom, but it’s true.
That’s all I have to say on this topic. I’m sorry if this was uncomfortable to read. You could’ve stopped twenty paragraphs ago.
And men, if you’ve made it this far, I’m thoroughly impressed. Don’t be afraid to make eye contact with me after reading this. I may be one of the few women you know who would dare say such things so openly, but know that every female you encounter holds many of the same feelings, thoughts, and concerns about her body. It’s just the way we are, the way we think. I think it’s good for men to dive deeper into what being a woman is like just so he can properly love and care for her. Likewise, I believe a woman has a duty to know more about herself and also about the men in her life.
It’s important to unveil some of these secrecies and mysteries.
And now that I have peeled back this one layer, you may carry on with your Tuesday.
I’ve been in a writing frenzy lately and I think it’s because I’m starting to finally become the truly confident woman of God I’m meant to be.
And that confidence has come amidst fear, insecurity, hurt, past wounds, and confusion.
Basically, I’m confidently broken. And what that means is that even though I pretty much have nothing in my life together, I am learning more about myself and God and others and I’m somehow able to be myself in confidence and boldness.
It is one of the greatest feelings in the world to know that despite brokenness and shame and hurt, I can still be wholly myself.
And I think that’s where God’s been trying to bring me– into this season of being myself where I don’t have to constantly strive or feel inadequate or feel like a failure.
I’ve been headed down this journey for the past few months (since the start of 2014, actually) and I can think of a few things that God has used tremendously in my life. So here’s an incomplete list of what has meant the most to me over the past 3.5 months.
1. NOT moving out
I was supposed to move out of my parents’ house into an awesome apartment with four girls in the first week of January. Words cannot explain how excited I was for this new season of my life. I finally felt like I was going to get that taste of true community and independence and college life. And yet two weeks before our scheduled move-in date, things just fell apart. Like crumbled.
And all of a sudden, moving out was no longer an option.
It didn’t make sense. Why on earth would God be paving a way for these plans to happen only to let them cave in on me? The least He could’ve done was give me some sort of warning or foresight. It hurt A LOT. And I was convinced that this was going to be the worst semester ever.
But God shone His goodness through my situation. I remained in my parents’ house and experienced a sudden growth in my relationship with my mom. She was there for me through the crushing disappointment I faced and we had some pretty cool “real talks.” And now I feel like we’re closer, or at least more real, than ever before. To think that I almost moved out without having this awesome friendship blossom between us.
Do I still want to move out? Yes. I’m considering trying again in August. But I have no regrets about staying home this semester. I never thought I’d say those words, but God’s sovereignty and goodness has somehow changed my mind.
2. My best friend NOT moving back
It was excruciatingly painful to consider facing yet another semester without my best friend, Lacey. After six months of having her in Thomasville while I remained in Kennesaw, I was ready for her to come back so the “Jessie and Lacey escapades” could begin again. She’s my wingman, my homie, my OTHER HALF. We were supposed to move in together and pick back up where we left off last May.
But she didn’t come back.
And I thank God for that distance remaining between us because even though the physical distance sucks, the emotional closeness that has been forged through that long distance is unbelievably amazing.
We talk anywhere from 1-6 hours a week. We still make it a point to text pretty much all day, everyday. We watch New Girl over the phone together. We take turns making the four-hour drive to visit each other once a month.
And yes, it’d be great to have her here, but having this distance between us has forced us to be intentional and focus on the more serious things of life that we’d otherwise overlook due to our crazy adventures.
We’ve become closer than I ever imagined possible. I can tell this girl anything. In fact, I HAVE to tell this girl everything. She keeps me sane.
Do I still want her here? Yes. The idea of her coming back to Kennesaw is not an impossibility. But I have no regrets about her staying in Thomasville and me remaining here, and I know she doesn’t either. Yet again, God has shown me His goodness through this situation I once considered the worst thing in the world. Now I realize it’s one of the best.
3. NOT having my life together
Having wounds and insecurities and fears surely feels awful sometimes. Well, most of the time.
But because I’m an imperfect human being, I have the opportunity to walk alongside so many imperfect human beings around me. Because I’m hurt, I have the opportunity to hurt alongside other hurting people.
And together, being hurt suddenly doesn’t feel so awful. It’s not pleasant, but it’s not awful either. When two people are raw and upfront with each other about their broken state of being, they suddenly find they’re not so alone after all.
I thank God that He has used my broken state of being to speak to others. And one of the ways He’s done that is through my writing. And I wouldn’t be able to write like this and say the things I do if I wasn’t okay with being broken.
Do I still want to be healed and whole? Yes. I know there’s so much joy to be had in Christ and we are not meant to remain forever broken and hurt. But God has used me this way. He’s used me as I am. And whether I’m in the deepest pit or on the best Jesus high, I’m just glad I can be used for His glory and to encourage the people I love.
So there you have it. The incomplete list of “wrongs” turned right that have brought me to this place I’m in now. It’s crazy to see God’s goodness through it all, but it’s there. He really does work all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). And oh, how I love Him! After having so much just fall to pieces, I really didn’t have much to hold on to but Him. And that’s a gift in and of itself.
Brokenness is okay, especially when you become confident in it. That doesn’t mean you STAY broken and just decide to never pursue healing. No, healing is needed. But being confident in your brokenness means that you let yourself be yourself, broken pieces and all. That means you stop completely hiding. That means you let God speak to you through your wounds and tears. That means you let God speak THROUGH you BECAUSE of your wounds and tears.
I want this for everyone, especially the beautiful young women in my life. Let’s face it: a lot of us girls are hurting and don’t know what to do about that.
Here’s what I propose we do: we confidently let God have our brokenness. Whether it’s taken away or remains, we let Him do something with it. Anything.
I love you, readers. Your encouragement has meant so much to me. Thank you for meeting me in my hurt and letting me know I am in no way alone or a failure.
For now, let’s be messy people together and begin to pursue healing… in confidence.
I am my mother’s daughter.
I have the fierceness ingrained in our family, passed down from generation to generation. We are bold, determined, willing to speak our minds.
My mom and I are similar in that we know how to be assertive and go after what we want in life. We can be overbearing at times, and it’s funny how often I hated this trait in my family yet I exhibit it myself.
For so long I saw myself as brash and loud, even obnoxious. I wasn’t too bothered by this fact; I just accepted myself for who I was and saw these things as family heirlooms that were inevitably passed down to me.
My mother and I are fierce women, but for so long I believed that fierceness was all we had. As empowering as it can be to realize that you are assertive and bold, it can also be discouraging.
When faced with serious subjects for most of my life, I was quick to laugh and brush things off. I didn’t think I knew how to be soft and vulnerable or comfort others during times of mourning. My parents and I just always used humor and loudness and name-calling to survive while others used tears. My friends say, “I’m so sorry that happened.” We say, “that sucks. Beat her up.”
It wasn’t until recently that I began to question my identity compared to my mother’s. I love her so dearly, but I knew that there was something in me that didn’t want to be defined the way my mom seemed to define herself. After all, I’m not always loud and brash. I do occasionally like hugs and comfort. I can sometimes be shy and soft-spoken. I just have a hard time convincing myself that these things, these nice things, are a part of me as well.
After observing the tenderhearted love exchanged between others this past year, I have been wondering if I have that sort of gentleness in me. My grandma has been whispering in my ear all my life that I have a gentle spirit and kind heart, but if I have such things, I sure do have a hard time accessing them.
The unfortunate truth is that my exterior masks my interior all too well, and I have been defining myself by my loudest qualities rather than the secret, softer ones.
All along I have had gentleness inside me; I just haven’t been diving deep enough into myself to find it. For so long, I allowed my confident and bold front to be all that there was because I was afraid, and still am at times, that there’s nothing else to uncover.
To this day I often put up this front. I’ve been told that I come across as intimidating and self-confident. The truth is I’m unsure of myself and afraid in many ways. It’s the fear of vulnerability that keeps my true self from coming out of hiding. There’s nothing worse than feeling ignored or unimportant. There’s nothing more frightening than being yourself and facing rejection.
So for a while I have forgotten how to let myself be myself.
However, I’m starting to find that hidden gentleness in me again, what other people were able to locate while I seemingly couldn’t, and I’m surprised at how quickly I can find it in my mom as well.
I can see it in the way my mom will call someone out and say things that no one else would dare proclaim, all for the sake of making sure no one she loves is hurt or taken advantage of. She will express her feelings loud and clear, but that’s because there’s a part of her that isn’t afraid of vulnerability and being known. She is determined and a go-getter, but it’s the maternal instinct and desire to take care of her family that spurs her on. She wears sweats and foregoes makeup shamelessly, but she is feminine at heart.
Even though she might not admit it, my mom can be tenderhearted and, well, a girl. As can I.
The truth is that we both have Eve in us. All women do. We, like Eve, are made in God’s image and for a special purpose. We are destined to be caretakers of others. We have a maternal instinct, which can be stifled yet not completely extinguished. If you look at the definition of the name “Eve”, you might be surprised to find that it simply means “life.” Women bring life to others.
My mom and I are not exceptions. We also bring life to others. We will fight in order to protect loved ones. We will speak up in order to preserve justice. We are ingrained with wisdom on how to nurture and take care of others. And at times, we know that there are kind, loving words of truth just behind our lips. We don’t always say them, but the words are there.
Are we loud? Yes. Do we become controlling and overbearing sometimes? You bet. Are we occasionally brash and maybe even rude? Indeed.
But I can’t say that we don’t know how to love or how to be gentle and soft.
My mom and I choose to love with fierceness.
Yes, I will always be my mother’s daughter, and I’m proud of that fact.