Tagged: perfection

When You’re Married and Want More

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As many of you know, I’ve been married for almost a month. I now live with a man who I so dearly love (and our sweet puppy). And let me tell you, there are both blessings and challenges from this.

First, I adore sleeping next to my husband, but I’ve discovered that snuggling and spooning lasts for less than an hour because we are both so desperate to get a good night’s sleep when we have to wake up in the early hours of the morning. Also, he sometimes sweats profusely when he gets too hot and I insist on using my own blanket so we don’t fight for covers when I get too cold. Bedtime is almost like a game. We have to run through a list of questions: Should we keep the AC on? Whose phone are we setting the wake-up alarms on? Which side of the bed is Buddy sleeping on? By the way, it’s a horrible thing to realize that your dog would rather sleep next to this guy he’s known for like two years versus sleeping next to you who he’s known ALL HIS LIFE. It’s just not fair and I pout about this regularly.

Second, I love spending time with my husband, but I’ve realized that this can quickly turn into suffocation. HE’S ALWAYS THERE. Yes, he does have work and I do have class, but for the most part, he never leaves my side. There are days when him and I are not separated for longer than an hour. And that’s probably not healthy, but it’s the way things are right now. Especially since it seems as though friends are avoiding us like the plague, thinking the newlyweds need tons of space and time for adjustment. Just so you know, I MISS MY FRIENDS. AND I SO DESPERATELY NEED A PLACE TO ESCAPE TO. SAVE ME. There’s only so long I can hint to Grant that he should make plans with somebody or go to the gym before I violently kick him out of the house so I can watch Grey’s Anatomy.

Third, I highly enjoy being served by my husband, but I’ve noticed how my independence and self-sufficiency is slowly dwindling. When he doesn’t have work in the morning, he gives me a ride to class. He makes me breakfast almost every day. He makes my coffee before I even get a chance to think about it (just wait, there’s more). He gets me out of bed when I’m feeling lazy. He sets alarms for me when I need to wake up. He always minces the garlic (which explains why I didn’t know how to peel the cloves for the longest time). He cleans my makeup brushes while I get ready in the morning (yes, ladies, keep swooning). When we run errands, he always drives. I know acts of service is his love language, but is this normal? To be served this much?? I may actually be forgetting how to drive myself places. It’s nice to be doted on, but I’m eventually going to need it to stop. And right now, he’s giving me a shoulder massage. I just can’t.

Lastly, I feel highly fulfilled as I live life with my husband, but there is a deep longing for more. And what I mean by that is that we both have a vision for our marriage that far exceeds where we are right now. We’ve only been married for a very short amount of time, yet we are already dreaming of houses and babies and promotions and new opportunities. And this makes it hard to stay put. We want what’s next. Grant and I are struggling to find contentment — not with each other, but with this place that we are in. And we wonder if other newlyweds experience this, too. The good news is that Grant’s old, homebody soul matches mine real well, which means that this deep desire for a home, family, and stability is not an isolating experience for either of us. God knew what he was doing when he placed us together. And he knows what he’s doing by bringing us through the simple steps before we reach the big, difficult ones. Even still, we long for answers to our soul’s cries for more.

My prayer is that we find a way to hold onto contentment and peace right now even amidst these strong dreams and desires for our future. I also am praying that God gives us discernment through the Spirit as we decide the right opportunities to accept and the right changes to embrace. We’re slowly finding our place in this world — both individually and as a unit — but there’s still so much left to unearth and discover.

This post is personal and maybe not the most relevant to everybody who is reading it. However, I wanted to share these things because I believe it is important to talk from reality instead of wishful thinking. I don’t want to put up a front that gives people the idea of us having a perfect marriage and a grand old time. I want people to know that the initial stages of marriage are both fun and difficult for us for various reasons. I want people to know that even though Grant and I are thrilled to be each other’s husband and wife, we are still ignorant on how to balance our time together, we still have fights and issues, and we still don’t fully know what a God-glorifying marriage means for us.

Most of all, I want people to know that we, just like everybody else, are not entirely content. There are beautiful parts to this marriage, but there are also many areas we wish to improve and grow. Our prayers of desperation reflect that regularly. We just got married and it seems as though this should be the greatest and most joyous time of our lives, yet there is still a lot of junk and confusion we are both dealing with. We have a structured routine and it is pretty great, but stability on the outside doesn’t necessarily mean our minds and hearts are in stable places. Him and I are still learning how to battle the real enemy while continuing to mistakenly battle each other. And this doesn’t take me by surprise because I learned long ago that Hollywood and social media tells us a lot of lies about the way our marriage and our lives should look. I knew the journey to the altar would be a hard one and the road after it wouldn’t be any easier.

The last thing I want is for my marriage to do to others what Hollywood and social media has done to me. I know the way those lies have harmed me — making me loathe myself for wasteful purchases because I thought I was supposed to be a coupon-savvy wife, making me beat Grant and I up for forgetting to have our time with God because I wanted to be the perfect spiritual couple, making me buy new clothes and get a new haircut because I thought I needed to play the part of “sophisticated housewife.” I want to be absolutely done with believing lies about the way my marriage should look. They have done nothing but place unnecessary pressure and guilt on us. And I definitely don’t want to allow myself to be a conduit of these lies either.

For this reason, I am striving to not give off a perception of perfection. I think I may have failed at this many times over the years, and I am sorry. I want to make it my goal to continue sharing truth and reality with people, even if I have to write less eloquent blog posts, share uglier photos on Instagram, and admit to having a fight with Grant before walking into a friend’s house or Bible study. I don’t believe it is wise to broadcast all of our deep struggles and issues to the world, but I want to be a person who is willing to talk about hard things, especially when other women are asking the same questions as me or other couples are dealing with the same issues. Today’s post was only a snapshot of a few things on my mind. I promise there’s a lot more underneath it all, but there’s a time and place for such discussion.

I also want to ask you to take some time to pray for Grant and I — for our everyday battles and the long, arduous road to contentment that we are still trekking on. It might sound selfish and vain to ask that of you, but I know it’s not. This is the way God designed us to be — lovingly truthful and vulnerable. It is out of love for my husband that I ask for other prayer warriors to pray for our marriage. It is out of love for God that I admit our failings and desperate need for his strength and peace in our lives. And it is out of love for you that I’d rather give you an honest picture of our marriage and our need for prayer than let you think for one minute that we have it all together. And in return, I want to bear your burdens and lift up your prayers, too. There’s no reason for us to walk through life alone.

Grant and I are so, so new to this whole marriage thing, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have encouragement or some wisdom to give. We have found that there is value in listening to honest novices, just as there is value in listening to the experienced. Both of these acts open our hearts to each other and give us more opportunities to learn, relate, and love. I am not ashamed to admit that much of the wisdom I feel as though I have on the subject of relationships and marriage has just been passed down to me from my amazing parents and grandparents. Some conclusions I have come to on my own, but I have always welcomed help and advice from those who have come before me. I am a better woman and wife for it. You would be a better woman and wife for it, too. Find those people who will be honest with you and provide you real pictures of marriage and life. It will help you battle the lies that we all end up having to face.

I love getting to share my life with my husband, but I also love getting to share my life with other women. Thank you for allowing me to do so and for also extending grace when I am not doing so well. In a way, I get the best of both worlds — a man who has come alongside me and women to encourage me to stay there (all laughs aside, this statement rings quite true). Don’t be a stranger, my friends. We could all use some friendship these days, including this one newlywed right here.

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When You Don’t Feel Good Enough

Photo by Cameron Russell via Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/camkage/5443790466)

Photo by Cameron Russell via Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/camkage/5443790466)

“You’re not a failure,” he reassures me.

“I know I’m not a failure, but I feel like I’m failing.”

There’s a difference, you know.

I know deep down that there’s a reason I’m here. And it’s not to have a simple career with a simple marriage and a simple life. My purpose is more complex than that (with a sprinkle of passion, too).

But what do you do when you feel like you’re so far from reaching that purpose? When it feels like you’re constantly wandering away from what you thought you cared about, when it seems like everyone has something to say about where your life should go?

The truth is I struggle with feeling good enough for anyone and everything. I want to please them all, I do.

Get the help you need, she says. You don’t need that kind of help, another tells me.

Let him be there for you, I’m told. You’re asking for too much, I hear again.

Focus on what’s right in front of you, they say. Don’t wait to chase down that dream, the others say.

All I can think is, I’m letting them down. I’m letting myself down. I’m letting God down.

I know I’m not a failure because I keep showing up to this thing called life. I know I’m not a failure because I keep putting one foot forward. But I feel like I’m failing, or maybe I’m just constantly falling — constantly falling in and out of love of different ideas thrown at me on how my life should look and what I should try to be.

While people are telling me to do this or that, what I’m hearing is, you have to be perfect. Or at least better than this.

And that word — ‘perfect’ — has been haunting me for many years of my life.

 

I have often looked to the one who loves me and surely must know me best, and I have said, I don’t feel good enough. But none of his reassurances have really done it for me. They don’t settle the chaos in my gut. They don’t stop me from searching and fumbling and hurtling and screaming. If anything, they just give me ideas in my head of how much better he is for me than I am for him.

So I’ve been learning, slowly but surely, that I have to stop always looking to that one. He’s ‘my everything’, but he’s not my everything. He holds much of my heart, but he’s not the one who can mend it.

Jesus.

Yes, yes, I need Jesus.

Because even though I come to the Cross with a trail of mistakes, all Jesus sees is me. And the way he sees me is unlike what other people see in me.

The world praises me for my performance and gifts and the good things I’m working towards. Meanwhile, he rejoices in me simply because I am his.

And if that doesn’t sound like the most beautiful of romances to you, let me break it down for you.

I am in Christ, and therefore I am no longer just myself. I am a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). This new creation isn’t an improved version of myself; it’s a version of myself that is unlike myself. It’s like Jesus (Galatians 2:20).

If the idea of no longer being ‘yourself’ and all of a sudden being like Jesus doesn’t sound too pleasant, let’s take a look at who Jesus is.

Jesus is victorious. The conqueror of death. Blameless. Holy. Pure. Perfect life. Perfect love. Perfect.

Why yes, I would love to be more like Jesus. Because have you met me apart from Jesus?

I myself am a hundred thousand miles from being perfect, but in Jesus’ eyes, I am all I need to be because I am his. I am perfectly his. I am perfect in Christ.

All those things he is — victorious, conqueror of death, blameless, holy, pure —  I now have resting in me. He let me in on the mystery of the gospel. And the mystery is this — Jesus came to save the lost and restore the broken. Now that I know, I can’t un-know. Now that I am brought into his kingdom and have been chosen to be his holy and blameless daughter (Ephesians 1:4), I can’t not be that woman.

This is the truth I hold onto when I start to hear those taunting words, you’re not good enough.

They’re right, you know.

I’m not good enough. I’m actually even better than that.

I know that these things I’m saying aren’t particularly profound. They’s actually just foundational truths of Christianity. If you don’t think they are, then maybe you’ve been too picky with your Scripture.

The reason why I’m even sharing these things is because I know that you question if you’re good enough.

And I want to be the voice — no, I want Jesus himself — to tell you, yes, you are.

And for once in your life, I want you to believe it.

Yes, you might feel like you’re failing and falling and every ugly thing in between. But look at WHOSE you are, not just who you are. You might feel overwhelmed and trapped by these varying ideas of how to find that perfect life and be that perfect person, but you can be freed by the knowledge that you are perfect in every way in the heavenly realm already.

It’s a process and a pretty long one at that. I think it’s called sanctification, which I kind of see as a constant, never-ending journey to the dumpster. We always have more to dump. There’s always something to rid ourselves of (and we usually have to rid ourselves of the same things over and over again).

For today, let’s start by dumping these lies that we have to live up to everyone’s expectations and be this perfect person for people just as messy and lost.

If you need help dumping those lies, it might help to imagine you shoving them into Jesus’ scarred hands and screaming, TAKE THIS BECAUSE ONLY YOU CAN. It sounds a little forceful, but I think those lies could use a good shove.

And when you start to make some progress in this whole dumping thing (because I trust that you’re not just going to read this, close your browser, and walk away), take some time to remind yourself that it’s not you making this progress. It’s the Holy Spirit in you. It’s the work that’s already been done on the Cross, the victory that’s already been secured for us.

Don’t dump the pressure to be perfect and then make yourself feel better by thinking that you’re closer to being perfect.

You’re not closer to being perfect, at least not here on earth. You’re closer to being free and you’re closer to looking like Jesus, which are two things infinitely better than getting everyone’s approval (including the approval of your own perfection-seeking self).

And when all of this is said and done, live out the rest of your day and prepare for another fight. It’s okay that there will be another fight because you are a fighter. I know you’re a fighter and not a failure because you keep showing up to this thing called life, as do I.

We need to keep doing this. It might get easier. It might not. But THIS is our purpose, the reason for why we’re here. We are here to live as Jesus calls us to live — free. Free to love. Free to dream. Free to fight. Free to hope. Free to live a godly life. Free to seek the Lord.

We were never meant to be enslaved to approval-seeking. We were always meant to be his.

When Relationships Are Hard

Being in a relationship is hard, guys.

I’ve known this for years, yet I still feel like I’m punched in the gut with that truth again and again.

I have no idea how to be someone’s girlfriend.

It’s a daunting task: to be the person they run to, the person they want to pour their love into, the person they want to support and appreciate wholeheartedly.

Because when you are that person for someone, there’s that little voice in the back of your head that says, But I don’t deserve it. And there’s no way I could be that lovely, loving person for them in return. At least that’s how it is for me.

I’m too selfish, too emotional, too messy, too prideful, too insecure, too bitter… how could I rightfully treat this man with respect and love when I hardly know how to love myself? How can I support and encourage this man when I can hardly support and encourage myself?

And he claims he’s a mess, too. Everyone’s got issues, he says. Baggage. But often times, I can only see my flaws and his strengths (or in my prideful moments, it ends up the other way around). And sometimes that makes a relationship one of bitterness or insecurity.

You have it all together. And I’m just… me. Awful, messy me. You should find another woman to love. Someone who doesn’t cry when things don’t go her way, someone who doesn’t pick fights for no reason other than her stupid insecurities.

Someone who always says the right things and does the right things.

It’s hard to remember that that someone doesn’t exist.

The other night, my boyfriend and I had this realization that we call ourselves a team, but we haven’t been acting like one lately. And my first reaction was, It’s my fault, while his first reaction was, It’s MY fault.

Isn’t that so silly? We both were so quick to take the blame.

And we could’ve just left it there. We both could’ve silently come to the conclusion that we’re messy, stupid people who don’t know how to be a good boyfriend or a good girlfriend. Beat ourselves up further and resolve to be better.

But that’s not what I want for him and that’s not what he wants for me.

So what’s a couple to do? Baby steps, my friends.

I asked how he was doing and he shared– open, honest communication about his week, his fears, his struggles. And I listened. I tried offering advice, but didn’t know if it was what he needed. I do think he appreciated the effort. But our conversation didn’t really last long. He had to be up early for work and I was pretty tired myself, so we said goodnight and went our separate ways.

And despite how I felt at that moment– wanting to storm into every room of mess and misunderstanding to set everything bad on fire and leave only the good, perfect, lovely things– that small, honest conversation was a good start.

I’m realizing you don’t have to hash everything out overnight. Every single issue, weakness, and insecurity doesn’t have to be laid out there on the table from day one. You don’t have to fix, fix, fix until both parties are dead tired and there’s nothing left to say.

There’s always going to be something left to say. We’re always going to have bad days and stress. We’re always going to have secrets we hold onto until someone pries us open. We’re always going to have moments of utter weakness that we beat ourselves up over for days.

You’re not going to make a perfect team overnight. You’re not going to make a perfect team over A LIFETIME.

Relationships are hard for everyone. Even the loveliest, sweetest of seasons in dating/marriage are eventually followed by hardships and messes.

We are messy people.

I’ve heard it said that a perfect relationship is just two imperfect people who don’t give up on each other.

I think that’s only partially true. What should be taken out is the “perfect relationship” part because there’s simply no such thing.

No two people can have a perfect relationship because no two people are perfect. No commitment is perfect. Promises are not always perfectly kept. Support doesn’t always come at the perfect time and in the most perfect way.

There’s no such thing as perfection in relationships because there’s no such thing as perfection in life.

The only perfect thing we have is a perfect God, and He’s the only one who can make our relationships into the beautiful, supportive teams we desire.

And even then, they can only be so good. Never perfect. That’s just the burden we live with until we go home to heaven.

So here’s my take on relationships right now: you do what you can with what you have and rely on God to do the rest.

I can show love to my boyfriend in the ways I understand love– kind words, warm affection, gifts and sacrifices. But when I’m stuck in my pride or my foolishness and I don’t even WANT to be loving or kind, I can ask God to strengthen His love in me so I can see past myself and forego my selfish ways.

I can offer wisdom to him when he needs advice or counseling– wisdom I’ve gained from experience and study. But when I don’t know the answers and I’m just as lost as he is, I can lean on God to show us both the right thing to do and the right thing to say.

I can be a sweet, fun, caring girlfriend– when I’m in a great mood or things are going great in my life. But when I’m angry at God, depressed for no reason, and feeling insecure in every area of my life, I sure as heck know I need the grace of God and I can ask Him for that, too. Lord, help my boyfriend deal with me. Because I’m crazy.

Asking God for help in these areas doesn’t mean He’s going to mold me into the perfect girlfriend. What it means is that I recognize my inability to be that perfect somebody for my ever-so-forgiving boyfriend and his inability to be that perfect somebody for me. And in recognizing that, God has the opportunity to heal me of some of my fears and insecurities, offer grace in areas I so badly fail at, and show me how to love in difficult moments. It reminds me that I can’t do it all, and that’s okay.

All I can do is baby steps.

Particularly because I can only predict my mood at this very moment. I can only guarantee I’ll feel nice and loving for the next hour. I am messy and unpredictable. I don’t think that’ll ever change. So I must take just one baby step after another, and believe that it can be enough.

The other night, my baby step was just listening. His baby step was offering nuggets of his life.

Tomorrow, my baby step might be apologizing first. His baby step may be relying on God through prayer instead of trying to fix things himself.

This is what I think relationships are mostly about. Not who will do the right thing first or who will do the right thing better. Certainly not how to be that perfect partner.

Just simply: when will I take that next step, be it ever so seemingly small?

I still have a long way to go. I’ll never win that trophy for best girlfriend of the year. But I can win the heart of the man I love day after day as I become more of the woman– messy and imperfect as she may be– that God is shaping me into.

Relationships will still be hard, but I think I’m learning.

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Oh, here’s a photo of me with my wonderful boyfriend, Grant, right before we went on our first Valentine’s Day date. This stud took me to Waffle House (yes, I shamelessly picked Waffle House over every other restaurant we had to choose from… jealous?). Grant is very sweet and understanding of my strange, crazy oh-my-gosh-is-she-even-sane ways. He calls it part of “my complexity”, which makes it sound rather romantic. Oh, and he loves nerdy things, God, and me. So obviously we’re just right for each other.

You Are Captivating

Here’s a word all girls are familiar with: Acceptance.

Every female struggles with it.

Am I pretty enough? Do these people like me? What should I wear today? Will they make fun of me?

Or worse: Who does she think she is? Why can’t he just be normal? Why should I bother getting to know this person?

Whether it’s trouble with accepting ourselves or trouble with accepting others, we are all guilty.

Today someone raised a question: Why do you want to be accepted?

For a long time, I literally did not have an answer.

We spend so much time putting on makeup, trying to impress people, working to achieve something of worth, hoping to getting someone’s attention, and asking ourselves if we’re even good enough.

It’s obvious that we all want to be liked and accepted.

But why?

Why does it even matter? Who cares if your hair looks like a mess? What’s the point in trying to gain as much approval from your peers as you can? Who are we trying to impress anyway?

WHY?!

Because we are like Eve. Every woman is.

“Like Eve after she tasted the forbidden fruit, we women hide. We hide behind our makeup. We hide behind our humor. We hide with angry silences and punishing withdrawals. We hide our true selves and offer only what we believe is wanted, what is safe… We will not risk rejection or looking like a fool. We have spoken in the past and been met with blank stares and mocking guffaws… To hide means to remain safe, to hurt less. At least that is what we think. And so by hiding, we take matters into our own hands. We don’t return to God with our broken and desperate hearts.” Captivating- John and Stasi Eldredge.

When we fail to accept ourselves, we are drifting farther and farther away from where God wants us to be. He wants us to run to Him, He wants us to put our insecurities behind us, and He wants us to find truth.

And the truth is that we were each created to be simply captivating.

“A woman in her glory, a woman of beauty, is a woman who is not striving to become beautiful or worthy enough. She knows in her quiet center where God dwells that he finds her beautiful, has deemed her worthy, and in him, she is enough. In fact, the only thing getting in the way of our being fully captivating and enjoyed is our striving. “He will quiet you with his love” (Zeph. 3:17). A woman of true beauty is a woman who in the depths of her soul is at rest, trusting God because she has come to know him to be worthy of her trust. She exudes a sense of calm, a sense of rest, and invites those around her to rest as well. She speaks comfort; she knows that we live in a world at war, that we have a vicious enemy, and our journey is through a broken world. But she also knows that because of God all is well, that all will be well. A woman of true beauty offers others the grace to be and the room to become.

Once we break through those layers of hurt and fear, we find a capable version of self, a beautiful one. Once we see the true meaning of beauty and we learn to accept ourselves, we also learn to accept others. We are all so much alike.

Ladies, we all seek to be loved, we all want to be seen as lovely, and we all struggle with looking at ourselves in the mirror, some more than others. Once we realize how similar we really are, how can we not love and help each other? How can we not accept each other? You are meant to be captivating, and so is she. We all are.

Though we may not fully know why we want to be accepted, the desire is there. Instead of allowing it to control our actions and determine how we live our lives, we need to let it all go and realize what we can be, not what we aren’t.

 

The Comparison Game

Something I struggle with is comparing myself to other people. Am I as talented as them? Am I at the same point in my relationship with Jesus as them? Do they have more than me? Are they better than me? By doing this, I am setting myself up for discontentment with my life and even God. By focusing on what other people have or don’t have, I forget what God has given me and blessed me with. While this may seem like a good way to become motivated, it’s not fair to myself to measure my own success by comparing quantity or quality. It blinds me to what’s important and by continuing to do this, I’m allowing bitterness and resentment room to build up inside of me, which we all know is far from where God wants any of us to be.

When your desires and jealousy are getting the best of you and holding you back from contentment and gratitude, it’s time for a reality check. We’re all going to find something in others that we simply cannot have or measure up to. We’re not all blessed with musical talent, we don’t all have platinum credit cards, we can’t all possibly look the same or own the same designer handbags. By desiring and yearning for other people’s gifts, wealth, blessings, and lives, we are blinding ourselves to what we do have. Our Father who loves us more than we can fathom wants to give us the true desires of our heart.

The only thing standing in the way of our contentment is ourselves. When we start caring less about what other people have, and start to focus on shaping our lives to resemble that of Christ, our desires will shape themselves too. We’ll find ourselves not only satisfied with our lives and possessions, but also happy for others too. Instead of letting jealousy consume our chances of happiness, we’ll start to realize how we’re all blessed in our own ways.

If you’re like me and have some insecurities and jealousies holding you back from loving others and loving yourself, LET THEM GO. Stop playing the comparison game, and start to see yourself through God’s eyes. We’re all wonderfully and beautifully created, and we have no right to be unhappy with where we are in comparison to other people around us. He bestows blessings upon us that we may not even be able to see because of our insecurities standing in the way. I promise you that you will be satisfied with every bit and inch of your life when you put your trust in God and take to heart His promises- we are not alone, we are all created in God’s image, and we are loved for who we are.