Effective Communication: A Two-Step Process

During my junior year of high school, I took an AP Language and Composition class with one of the most infamously difficult teachers in the school. It was the hardest class I had ever taken and the one B I got in high school (not that I’m still bitter or anything). Throughout the semester we had a fair number of large writing assignments, many of which required a double-digit page count. But oh how I I loathed writing! Any time I would try to make decent headway, it wouldn’t be long before I was stuck and frustrated. Worn down by the struggle, I went to my teacher for help and this is the input she gave me.

You cannot brainstorm and organize a paper at the same time; it is two separate steps.

First, you have to write any sentences, phrases, and/or ideas that come to mind. Don’t focus on if they are contradictory, extraneous, or grammatically correct. Remove your filter. They don’t have to be logical, sequential thoughts; they can simply be bullet points. Just get everything out on the paper.

Then, you can take those ideas and actually start organizing them. Group your thoughts and see how they fit together to support your conclusion. Consider things you wrote that might seem in opposition to help refine, or even change, your point of view and solidify your perspective. Determine if there are areas that may be lacking support or places where questions remain unanswered; narrow your efforts on filling in those gaps to help lead you to a robust and satisfying conclusion.

That advice saved me many a late night in college and, surprisingly, it has saved me many a late night in marriage.

I’ve realized, the hard way, that this same principle is applicable to the way my husband, Louis, and I approach communication, especially in the context of conflict and decision-making.

Just like writing a paper happens best in two steps, effective conversation does too! If not, as I’ve learned before, the result is cumbersome communication, frustration, and a poor conclusion.

In a conversation, brainstorming often looks like…

Uncovering expectations | Revealing insecurities | Unloading jumbled thoughts | Changing  opinions | Expressing raw emotions | Making judgments | Sharing perceptions |

On the other hand, organizing often looks like…

Articulating facts | Assessing pros and cons | Considering solutions | Raising objections | Dispelling emotions |  Making decisions |

If you are a brainstormer like me, you love to externally process. You enter a conversation raw and will follow wherever the conversation leads. If you are an organizer like Louis, you love to internally process. You enter a conversation with a set perspective and a set goal. And even though sometimes I don’t act like it, one is NOT better than the other; they are both very necessary steps toward intimate and effective communication. However, just like with writing high school papers, if we try to brainstorm and organize at the same time, it is not long before we become frustrated. Then, in our frustration, we give into our selfishness, become quick to speak and slow to listen, and end up farther from resolution.

But, with quality communication being a mutual goal, Louis and I have been able to find solutions that help us harness this difference so that it is an assent, not a nuisance, to our marriage. To do this, we have addressed the problem at the root and are learning how to approach conversation as a two-step process. The newlywed stage of marriage has been wonderful, but has also been very difficult in various ways, some of the most notable being the lack of community and the difficulty of finding mentors who can speak wisdom into the difficulties we are facing.  So, being mindful of that, I want to share some of the tips we have learned.

For one, it is helpful to have conversations dedicated to brainstorming that way we can be quick to organize when we need to. One way this happens is by Louis’  intentionality in engaging me with emotional and introspective questions on a regular basis (which can be very challenging when we are both so busy and tired at times). Additionally, I am more intentional about being forthcoming and vulnerable, rather than selfishly and sometimes, stubbornly, withholding until he asks.

Also, it is helpful to deliberately set aside time at the beginning of discussion to simply vocalize perceptions, opinions, and ideas without the pressure to present logical points and move toward an immediate solution. This has made a huge difference for us! We have agreed to give each other grace and allow raw emotions to be expressed, resisting the urge to interpret comments as personal attacks. Allowing space for us both to feel heard diminishes the need to be defensive and lets us truly listen to the other person’s point of view, so we can more easily move toward resolution.

Then again, there are other times when we start a conversation and then realize it would be most beneficial for us to pause and take time for us to each internally process on our own and then come back later to finish the conversation. This is especially helpful when emotions are charged, because it allows us to unpack our emotions individually and then come back together when we are less heated and ready to listen and be humble.

Finally and very simply, I have had to change the way I view miscommunication. I’ve had to learn to appreciate that often times, all that needs to happen is to simply recognize miscommunication for what it is and then, move on. It is destructive to overthink it or turn it into a big, emotional deal. As a result, my tone, attitude, and motives are much improved when addressing Louis if something does come up.

Learning to communicate well with one another is a long journey and we are far from perfect at it. To be honest, because Louis and I are complete opposites, it has been quite a challenge for us, being especially difficult to truly understand the other person’s approach and reaction. However, with God’s grace and our unwavering commitment to one another, we are slowly but surely learning, adapting, and growing to be better communicators as husband and wife. The longer we have been together, the more we understand the roots of some of the communication issues we have encountered, allowing us to target the problem at the source and find solutions that work for us.

One day I anticipate Louis and I will get the hang of this communication thing and then we will look back at this post and laugh at our newlywed selves. Until then, we will choose to find joy in the learning process and exchange advice along the way!

Now it is time for you to share your advice! What are some tips that that have helped you and your spouse learn to communicate effectively??

 

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Why Did I Write Wedding Vows I Know I Can’t Keep?

I got married just over a year ago. It was a beautiful October day. The air was a little chilly but, with the heat that my nerves were generating, it felt perfect. There was no more frantic planning or details to get in order. I had gotten a great night of sleep and the honeymoon bags were packed. Our dear friends and family were there, many having driven 12 hours or more, to watch as my bridegroom and I finally started a new family together.

I am not usually sentimental about things, but I am rather sentimental about words and emotions. Throughout the planning process, I didn’t have as much of a vested interest in whether the room was decorated well enough or my hair was styled perfectly or even if the pictures turned out how I wanted (and everyone knows how important the pictures are). The one thing that, for me, epitomized the success of the entire wedding was that Louis and I could personally write and read our own vows to one another. That is what the day is supposed to actually be about anyway, right?

I spent so much time trying to find the perfect string of words that conveyed all the love, affection, and fierce commitment I have for this beloved man of mine. There were multiple drafts, an emotional computer crash, and then more drafts. And when it came time to finalize them, I was so ecstatic to soon proclaim to Louis all that I vowed to be and do as his wife.

On October 17, 2015, this is what I vowed to Louis.

Jump to present day.

I am sure that I have broken every single one of the things I vowed to Louis.

I have disrespected him. I have used words that are definitely not life-giving. I have refused to serve him and have served myself. I have chosen not to pursue reconciliation and instead cling desperately to my pride. Most of all, I haven’t always made Jesus my greatest priority in our marriage.

Whether someone writes their own vows or uses standardized ones, we all stand up there and vow things that we know we can’t follow through on. We make promises that we know we will break. We give the impression that we will be the perfect husband or wife. Is that how we should really be starting a marriage?

Why is that? Why do we write or recite wedding vows we know we will break?

Some of my first thoughts were that maybe it is out of pure tradition. Many of aspects of a wedding are based on tradition: the bouquet toss, the first dance, the white dress. Maybe we recite vows because we believe that to be a necessary element to a wedding. But nowadays, many people seem to be doing away with “traditional” elements of a wedding.

So maybe it is the naivety of new love? Maybe naivety makes us believe that somehow our marriage or our spouse will be the one that makes all the messy things in life disappear. We will be the couple that beats all odds because no one has experienced or can truly understand the depth of love that we have for one another. Romantic, right?

As I recently found myself rereading my vows, I was overcome with emotion when I realized why I wrote vows I knew I would break. And it isn’t something I could have known as I read them to my, now, husband for the first time.

I wrote them as a reminder.

My vows are a humble reminder that I can’t rely on my own strength to be a good wife. They are a reminder of the possibilities that come from a life and a relationship that is submitted to the Lord. Real, true, honest love cannot be maintained outside of the intervention of the Lord, for God IS Love. Love bears all things, believes all things, and hopes all things. My vows remind me that love always perseveres to that end.

We don’t write our wedding vows for our wedding day. We write them for every day after that. On our wedding day when we are full of emotional love, it is easy to commit to and believe every one of those vows. That is why we write them for all the moments when it isn’t.

There have been times in my marriage when I have needed to open up my computer and read back through those vows. I have needed to regain the perspective that my husband and my marriage is more than just this moment of hardship, or disagreement, or pain. I’ve needed to read that our foundation is not our ability to avoid miscommunication or never act selfishly, but on our fervent commitment to live out a marriage that is a living example of God’s redemptive and faithful presence. I have needed reminding.

……

I don’t know what your story is, but I think we can all use reminding that we can’t do this life alone. And, that we don’t have to. We all have a way of making life messy and ugly sometimes, and I pray this would serve as a reminder to both you, and myself, that God loved us at our darkest and there is nothing He can’t heal or redeem.

Our First Anniversary: Celebrating the Hardest Year of My Life

We have (almost) made it!! On October 17, 2016, the hubby and I will be celebrating our first anniversary. What?! I almost can’t believe it. This year has been so good, yet it has brought with it a plethora of challenges as well.

Every couple’s first year of marriage looks different. I can confidently say that, for me, our first year of marriage definitely proved to be the hardest year of my life. The moment I said, “I do,” I vowed to be responsible for another adult human being. If you’re telling me that is not hard, I’m convinced you are either lying or delusional. Adult human beings (in many ways, even more so than child human beings) are messy, complicated, and selfish. So put two of them together and…?

This past year was NOT hard because learning to be Louis’ wife is difficult. Au contraire! Louis is aptly suited for me in ways I would not have even thought to pray for. He is not perfect, but he strives to encourage me, support me, lead me, challenge me, humor me, and love me with a devotion and ferocity that is uncontested. No, this past year was hard because learning to be anyone’s wife is difficult. Additionally, being a wife means being an adult, and it turns out that that isn’t so easy either. This past year, my husband and I have had to make some of the hardest decisions, experience the most transition, step into completely new roles and responsibilities, and attempt to serve and love selflessly in ways we never have before.

In other words, I have had a lot of growing and refining to do, and that didn’t come without its pangs. I had to reevaluate the way I communicate. I had to reconsider ways in which I cling to entitlement and expectation. I had to refocus in Whom I put my security and trust. I had to throw aside the lies that I allowed to set up residence in my heart and mind. And those things, my friend, are not easy. As a way of celebrating my anniversary, I want to revisit, share, and rejoice in some of the hard lessons I have learned these past 365(ish) days!

10 Hard Lessons I Have Learned in Year One 

1)  Having your spouse pick up on subtle hints may seem more romantic, but it just leaves you disappointed and your spouse confused. 

This applies to everything from physical intimacy and lunch preferences to doing house chores and navigating new feelings. My husband is the total package, so if he is not a mind-reader, I can bet that yours isn’t either. It does not take away any sentimentality to simply say what you’re thinking so that you and your spouse are on the same page. Learning this has saved us so much miscommunication and heartache.

2)  Marriage should not be a mission to mold your spouse to be more like you. 

Part of the reason I fell in love with my husband is because of his quirks and the ways he is different from me. I have had to remind myself to not let the stressors of daily life make me forget the joy of having married someone different than me. It may not always be easy, but I don’t ever want my husband to be anyone but himself. Marriage is about unity, not uniformity.

3)  Maintaining healthy friendships gives life to your marriage.

It is unrealistic to ask my husband to be everything I need all of the time. No one person can do that, no matter who they are. Having external friendships gives me a community of people who can give me perspective, provide a listening ear, and help me process. There may be a number of reasons why friendships are hard to find and/or maintain once you get married, but they are definitely worth the time and effort.

4)  Do not wish this season of life away, even the hard parts. 

It is easy to find myself saying things like, “once we are in a bigger apartment,” or “once we have more money,” or “once I am done with school.” I found myself feeling discontent and just wishing the next stage of life to get here, as if that’s where things would be easier and better. If you’re always looking a mile ahead, you’re going to miss what is right in front of you. You are never going to experience this season of life again. Don’t rush it. Take it all in, because once it is gone, you will never get it back.

5)  Don’t compare your marriage to anyone else’s. 

You cannot compare your behind-the-scenes to someone else’s highlight reel. I don’t know what someone’s marriage truly looks like behind closed doors or what they are walking through. Comparison is the thief of joy, always. I wrote more about learning this here!

6)  Marriage means you have to be okay with the possibility of getting pregnant. 

God created man in such a beautiful way that the by-product of physical intimacy is children. So, part of having sex once you are married is knowing that there is a possibility of getting pregnant, even if that is not on your timeline. Man-made manipulation is fallible and God works within his own perfect timeline. There is so much peace in knowing that children are a gift from God and trusting that He has control over when and/or if He chooses to bless you with them.

7)  Don’t say “I’m fine” if you’re not. 

When you’re married, you cannot compartmentalize you life. What I do and feel will always affect my husband. Choosing to hold back from him and not be honest simply allows consequences to build up until my emotions inevitably spill out. Once you are married, you don’t have to do life alone. So when my husband asks if I’m okay, that is my opportunity to let him in, because I know he is always for me and he wants to know me deeper. Don’t let insecurity, embarrassment, or fear influence you from speaking up when you are not fine.

8)  There is never a “right time.” 

As a type-A control freak, this one was hard to swallow. We can compile an organized, color-coded, 5 year plan, but it wouldn’t be any more productive than doodling on construction paper. Life is unpredictable and it is a better use of my time to learn how to handle the curveballs with grace rather than to try and devise a plan around them. I have realized that there will never be a period in my life when life is not messy, so sometimes the question I have to ask myself is, “why not now?”

9)  Fiscal responsibility is not popular and it is not fun.

So this may seem like it should have been obvious, but it definitely was more challenging than I thought.  Sticking to a budget and aggressively paying off school loans can be super sucky at times. It involves rarely eating out, eliminating clothes shopping, and often times limiting ourselves to free date ideas. It can sometimes feel as if I have to say “no” to anything fun. However, the discipline of working toward long-term goals and pursuing fiscal decision-making and responsibility together has actually served us well in our marriage.

10)  You will get better at it.

I remember times when I sat on the bathroom floor and bawled until I had a headache and was out of tears because I felt like I wasn’t getting any better at understanding, serving, or loving my husband. I felt like miscommunication was inevitable and I was destined to get things wrong forever. Failure is a part of doing something new. Embrace it, learn from it, and never lose hope!

Perhaps you are only a few months into marriage, are engaged to be married, or you are hoping marriage is somewhere in your future. Maybe you have been married for decades. Wherever you find yourself, I hope this has been an encouragement to you. Marriages are a beautiful gift from God that are always worth fighting for, protecting, and CELEBRATING!

[I know that I still have SO much yet to learn, so I would love to hear from you! Comment below with some of the things you have learned throughout your marriage!]

A Biblical Guide to Making Big Decisions

Actually.

Take away all of the pretenses, facades, illusions, and fluff and that’s what you’re left with.

Actually.

Get to the genuine reality and that’s what you’ll find.

Sometimes with Christianity, it’s easy to overlook the actually. We listen to Sunday preaching, pray during our quiet time, and read from the latest daily devotional. We are consistently reminded of the important Biblical concepts of love, obedience, joy, and faith, for example, but often times we see them as just that, concepts. It’s easy to let the truths of the Bible become principles that we study and ideologies that make our emotional selves feel good. But seldom do they become the practical linchpins in our daily lives.

Actually is what moves us from theoretical to practical.

What does it actually look like to love our enemy? What does it actually look like to obey in times of uncertainty? What does it actually look like to have joy in the midst of struggle? What does it actually look like to live out your faith?

One of the “actually” questions a lot of us struggle to answer:
What does it actually look like to make big decisions while seeking God’s will?

We make decisions every day, most of them being small. But all of us will inevitably have big decisions come up in our lives. Perhaps it’s a move, a career change, a relationship commitment, a new addition to your family or maybe a big purchase. Whatever it is, when it is big and impactful, we feel the burden of not having an answer to this question.

There are people all throughout the Bible who were called by God to decide and act according to His clear commands. At my church right now as we continue through the book of Joshua, there are numerous examples of how Joshua and the Israelites were given clear direction from the Lord and their role was to choose whether they would obey.

But decisions in life seem so much more complicated than that. It doesn’t usually seem so clear as to what God is calling us to do or where He is leading. It’s hard to know if we are making the right decision.

What is God’s will? What if I make the wrong choice? What will be the consequences? Will we be overcome with a “peace that passes understanding?” Is everything supposed to “fall into place?” Will God “close all the other doors?”

In the midst of wrestling with big decisions, I have found these 7 biblical and very practical steps, which our pastor, Matt Brewer, shared at church a few weeks ago, to be a helpful guide in focusing my decision-making process and seeking what it looks like to actually make big decisions while seeking God’s will.

A Biblical Guide to Making Big Decisions 

  1. Genuine Faith
    This is different than just believing in God. Genuine faith is the by-product of choosing to truly submit ourselves to Jesus’ authority over our lives. It is acknowledging our filthiness and hopelessness as well as God’s provision through Jesus Christ to bridge the gap between us and Him.
  1. Bible Intake & Biblical Worldview
    To know what God may be calling you to do, you must know what is important to Him. The more you understand God and how He sees the world, the more you begin to see the world that way, too.
  1. Connected to and Involved in a Healthy Church
    Notice this is a HEALTHY church. You should be engaging in a church community that is actively seeking Christ, teaching sound doctrine based on Scripture, and shows evidence of fruitfulness. Also, being involved doesn’t mean being part of the Sunday crowd. It means intentionally living in community with fellow believers. It means meeting together, struggling together, and doing life together.
  1. Confession and Repentance Often
    Sin makes everything murky. When you allow sin to build up in your life, it clouds your ability to have good discernment and to view your situation and options with clarity. Sin bends your judgments toward selfishness and will steer you away from the Lord.
  1. Pray for Wisdom, Clarity, and Guidance
    Praying for these is a reflection of a humble heart that is open to truth and input. If you pray for these out a sincere desire, God will be faithful to provide them. He provides them in many ways, including through his Word and other people, so be looking for them all around you.
  1. Filter your wrestling through 1-5
    Be honest about what you think God might be leading you to and don’t throw aside considerations that seem intimidating. Compare all your options and consider how they line up with Scripture and affirmation from your church family. Also, be sure to give careful thought to red flags that are brought to your attention.
  1. Do What You Want
    If you have been faithful to walk through steps 1-6, trust that God will change your desires to align with His will. To place this anywhere else but last will, more often than not, lead you astray and away from God’s will. God is about His glory and His purposes, not ours.

God is practical. He is relevant and He is personal. Following Him isn’t just learning theoretical, life-improvement concepts. God wants you to welcome Him into the daily details of your life, especially when you are in the midst some of the biggest and hardest decisions you will face. When you feel overwhelmed by the options and stress and need something concrete, intentionally walk your way through this list. Allow it to move you from theoretical to practical, so you can actually, and boldly, follow God’s will.

God is Not a Duplicator

Last Sunday night, Louis and I had the privilege to gather with the other couples in our church for a time of “marriage maintenance,” a time to be reminded and encouraged in our commitments to Christ-centered marriages. I was humbled to be in a room filled with so many collective years of marriage and so much insight and experience. Couples of different ages, in different stages of life, with different stories, all coming together. Plus we had Chick-fil-A catered for dinner, so the night was already destined to be great!

At just over 9 months of marriage, and only 23 and 22 years old, Louis and I were the youngest and least experienced. I was both eager and thankful to soak up the wisdom the speakers had prepared to share with us and to find practical ways I can learn to be a better wife to Louis. Over the course of the night, their testimony was both admirable and encouraging. They shared about the ways they have learned to love and serve one another well and to dance in marriage without stepping on each other’s toes (metaphorically at least, I cannot vouch for that literally…). We learned about hallmarks of true confession and forgiveness as well as how God’s graciousness toward us should drive our graciousness towards our spouse. Too much good stuff to talk about all of it here!

As I been reflecting on and praying about all we learned on Sunday, I have been overwhelmed by the way the Lord has guarded my heart and mind with the truth reflected in this quote, a quote I heard almost 3 years ago when Louis and I started dating.

“Be careful not to turn others’ lives into the mold for your own. We have a God who is a creator, not a duplicator.”
– Francis Chan

As humans, our hearts are prone to set up idols and take what was intended for good and twist it. It is a good thing to be encouraged by and to admire the beauty, strength, faithfulness, and Gospel-centered example of someone else’s marriage. We should be able to take joy in other’s triumphs, gifting, passions, and spiritual growth. Unfortunately, we often times allow comparison to be the thief of our joy and the cast for our idol.

Louis and I are very different from any other couple in that room. We have different personalities, different upbringings, different sin struggles, different love languages…we are, simply put, different people. Because of that, it does us no good to make someone else’s marriage the blueprint for our own.

However, while we should never model our marriage after someone else’s, it would be foolish to deny the importance of mentorship, wise counsel, and community, for it is a fool who thinks they are right in their own way. Louis and I are abundantly thankful for the blessing of having Christ-centered role models in our lives from whom we can glean advice, biblical counsel, and encouragement. Where I often err is finding the balance between those good things and being vigilant of my tendency to set a foundation for an idol by allowing the roots of comparison to take hold in my heart.

The Lord has graciously focused my time with Him this week on reminding me that the only example worth imitating is Christ. In fact, imitating Him brings about the opposite effect of imitating others: joy, peace, contentment, graciousness, and righteousness. As Louis and I walk boldly and joyfully walk in our marriage, we are keeping our eyes set on the perfect example and fighting against the human temptation to compare ourselves to anyone else. After all, why would we settle for duplicating anyone else’s marriage when God is creating something beautifully new in our own?

Maybe for you it isn’t marriage. Maybe it is being an RA, or a mom, or a lawyer, or maybe an athlete. No matter the role, we all have the tendency to look around at others’ in the same position and desire to mold elements of our lives after theirs. When you are tempted to compare yourself to someone else, remember that it is impossible to make a fair comparison, for our God is a creator, not a duplicator.

 

 

The Transparency of Boredom

I do not handle boredom well. I’m not talking about a lack of activity because I have decided to rest, relax, and not make plans. No. I’m talking about boredom where I have no plans I can make, I have reached my threshold for looking through social media, and still there is a void of time that is left unfilled.

Louis and I both have non-conventional and often conflicting schedules, a very limited budget, and a minimal community of friends in Indy. Throughout our nine months of marriage, we have found these three factors to be pretty restrictive at times. In some ways it has been an obvious blessing to our marriage and in other ways it has been difficult and discouraging. Especially compared to college life, this season of life has brought about many moments of boredom.

Maybe it is a western culture thing, but I think most of us go through great lengths to avoid being bored. We spend money on movies, dinner, bowling, traveling, concerts, shopping, and buying new gadgets. We entertain ourselves with accessible technology, including our computers, TVs, and video games; if we are on the go, it has become a reflex to grab our smartphone and scroll through Instragram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, ESPN, etc. We plan and attend social events to surround ourselves with people, conversation, and activity. Sometimes we even busy ourselves with finding something to clean or organize around the house or in our car (Is that just me?).

Each one of these can be a good thing, like going to see one of your favorite bands in concert or meeting up with friends for dinner. I would say that anyone who lives a balanced life probably incorporates some of these into their schedule on a regular basis. But, lately I have been convicted of having a desire to schedule things just to be busy and avoid boredom, to look for a distraction.

Why am I so persistent to fight against boredom? Why am I looking for a distraction?

This week boredom hit me especially hard. So, I decided to think about what the real-life, non-fluff answers to those questions were. The verdict?

When I am bored and my mind is not distracted, my heart becomes more transparent. I start to see the things I am (consciously and unconsciously) trying to cover up and shove down deep so I don’t have to deal with them.

I see that my heart is messy and ugly.

I see the depth of my loneliness and my discontentment.

I see the insecurities and the doubts that I am carrying.

I see my lack of trust in the Lord.

I see how much bitterness I am actually holding onto.

I see how little of undistracted time that I spend in the Word or in prayer.

I see my skewed motives and the idols I have erected.

I see how I so easily abandon an eternal perspective to conform to the pattern of this world.

But this isn’t just in this particular season of life, for this has been an accurate picture of my heart time and again. My heart is fickle and prone to wander and that is why I can find myself here so often. Sometimes there are tears. Sometimes just resigned silence. Sometimes there is self-pity and wallowing. But over time I have learned there is one way, that works for me, to fight these lies that so easily consume me.

I must move myself to think upon the character of God and the depth of His love for me.

This is not a passive remembering. This is an active and intentional decision to, one-by-one, take the lies that I see in my heart and speak specific Truth to each one. When I have been struggling to trust the Lord (maybe through a transition or uncertainty) I fight by writing down the things I have seen in my life and in Scripture that show me the Lord is trustworthy. When I am feeling lonely, I jot down some of the wonderful relationships I do have rather than dwelling on those I wish I did. When I start to buy into what the world says is important, I make a list of what the Lord says is of eternal value.

While this does not magically make everything better, but it does encourage me to press on even though situations and seasons that are not ideal. God cares for me more than the birds of the air or the flowers of the field. He is fully aware of my messiness, my emotions, and my needs. In Christ, I am known and I am loved.

The thing about distractions is that while they may be entertaining and effective for a while, they truly are temporary. Eventually there will be a moment when no distraction is available and you are in a moment of boredom, and that is when the things deep in your heart will start to bubble to the surface.

And when it does, let it.


 

Enjoying Quality Time on His Terms

Stepping outside of your comfort zone is not just for the dating arena, where being impressive is the name of the game. It actually becomes even more important in marriage. Sometimes in very big ways like supporting a job transition, and other times in very small ways like…agreeing to play a video game? Yes, like agreeing to play a video game.

I do not like video games. I think video games are silly, distracting, a poor investment of time, isolating, and sedentary. Until I met my husband, who happens to enjoy video games, I had a very rooted stereotype in my mind of what a video gamer was like. So when the latest (and greatest?) Pokémon Go was released, my response was the equivalent of a tsk and an eye roll. Think about it… it is all about wandering around to catch imaginary creatures on a cell phone! It sounds absolutely nuts.

What I do like, however, is going on long walks. I think the fresh air, exercise, and interaction does my heart and mind so much good. It gives me opportunities to decompress and destress and it’s where some of my favorite conversations have happened.

Last week my husband asked if I wanted to bring Leia, our puppy, and walk around downtown Indy to play Pokémon Go together. My first reaction was to tell him how stupid I thought this phone game was. I proceeded with my first reaction. As someone who strongly dislikes playing video games, why in the world would I be interested in playing? He usually doesn’t jump at opportunities to go walking with Leia and I, especially not for two hours, but because of Pokémon Go he is actually suggesting it? At this moment I realized that I had two options. One, I could concede to my rooted dislike of video games and refuse his offer to play the game with him. Or, I could choose to be thankful for the way Louis was reaching out to spend time with me and do something I normally wouldn’t.

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We brought a backpack just to carry water for Leia!

Louis and I spent somewhere between three an four hours downtown that afternoon. Leia and I walked with Louis as he guided us through the streets of downtown to the nearest Pokémon and the plethora of Pokéstops located at various monuments downtown throughout the city. Louis and I held hands and threw digital Pokéballs. We talked about life and we talked about who had control over the closest Pokémon gym. I got to work on training Leia among the people and distractions while Louis got to work on training his Pokémon in the game. Leia, too, enjoyed the new sights, smells, and various people who were eager to pet her.

By the end, all three of us were sweaty, tired, and very happy. 

After getting married, it has been easy for me to fall back on my personality (whether by nature, nurture, or both) and stop getting out of my comfort zone to please my (now) husband. I figure that since my husband already knows X about me, I am justified in not having to do X. X becomes all sorts of things, from playing video games, to staying out late, to listening to certain radio stations in the car. All of these are small examples, but they do reveal something about my heart and the limitations I’ve put on how I will love my husband.

Don’t draw the line at stepping outside of your comfort zone to impress a date. Be willing to step outside of your comfort zone to love your husband, too.