February 12, 2019

The Wife Life: 25th Anniversary Edition

As we approach our 25th Wedding Anniversary this summer,
I am reflecting on my marriage journey,
spiritually and emotionally.

25 years ago
Status: We were all dreams and little substance.
Spiritual: Most of my prayers were about the future, the
distant future.
Emotional: New experiences were not frightening to us.
Everything was new, and we were willing adventurers.

20 years ago
Status: Now 4 years into marriage, we were a Christian couple who
loved our church, our friends and our family and were expecting our
first baby. We were on schedule.
Spiritual: My entire focus was on getting God to approve my plans.
Emotional: What do I need to be good at my assignments?

15 years ago
Status: Now married 8 years and expecting our second baby,
we were enjoying a smaller and tighter circle of friends. We were
very close to one other, and I was very content in my marriage.
Emotional: I had a lot excess energy and ideas. I had grown up
some and learned how rewarding giving my whole heart to my family
really could be. Somewhat less focused on my needs and more aware
of the needs of other people.
Spiritual: I prayed and asked the Lord why He never called me to
full time ministry when I was an eager child in my hometown
church. He said: I am calling you now.
I was age 30, the same age that Jesus began his ministry.

10 years ago
Status: Now a mother of 3, mostly engaged in my family
of 5 and their activities, always planning and coordinating
and driving, all along with a super supportive husband.
This wife was very content at home.
Spiritual: My perspective was that I was the most blessed
person that I knew. I was often thanking God for my life.
Emotional: Strange feelings would wave over me. I could
become overwhelmed, almost panicky, but I knew that feeling
would come and then go. I was daily fighting
the fear that other people could really steal my peace,
because unfortunately the happiness
of my husband and kids determined how happy that I was.

5 years ago
Status: Pressure mounting. Everyday was about ignoring stress.
Joy was a temporary state of mind. I would cling to it, but
it would still slip away. Firstborn child leaving
for college soon. Grief and depression creeping into our marriage.
We were showing the wear and tear that this season brought.
We weren't ready.
Spiritual: Always asking for rescue and relief, on my knees
often seeking guidance for my whole circle of people.
Emotional: My husband and I had a rule that only one parent
could come unglued at a time. I needed my turn for a meltdown,
but my husband was so unhappy. We weren't able to hold each other
up as well as we had in other hard seasons. It was now time for
me to go to work and invest in other people.
I needed to earn some money and have my own life.

Current Status
As parents of one college daughter, one high school daughter
and one middle school son, we are discussing our options for
celebrating our Silver Anniversary in Summer 2019. We are
currently peaceful with and joyful with and thankful
for one another. We are currently looking
at our life as a big picture testimony, not as a daily battle.
Spiritual: We want to hear from God. We want to please God.
We now know that we will always serve Him.
Emotional: There is a solid foundation here and an
eternal perspective on things.
We have replaced panic attacks with peaceful,
hopeful conversations about
real life options and solutions. We are two individuals
who seek the Lord separately
and then share that growth and strength with the other person.

We are in awe that our kids are almost grown, but we love
seeing them become individuals. We do not need to
live through the kids. We like our life as a couple and really
want that love and freedom for each of them. We want to live near
them and be present in their everyday lives, if possible.
We both agree on that.

Each season flows into the next. I am so grateful that the
success of our marriage is not based on one test
or one perfect day or one terrible month.
Stopping at these five stations on our journey has helped me
stretch my legs, get some fresh air and also get my bearings.
The marriage journey is God’s idea.
He designed a construct for
security and love. It starts with attraction and passion and smiling
and laughing, but it quickly becomes more complex than that.
In all transparency,
I know that God chose marriage for me, but he let me choose Dan.
I was prayerful and careful; I wanted to choose wisely.
But he let me choose.
We chose each other really. Dan was careful and prayerful too.
I was a big commitment, a long term choice.

So far, we have invested 2 years of dating + 1 year engaged
+ 25 years married. . .a blessed partnership.

January 6, 2019

A Vocabulary Lesson

the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.  

Does not agree with. Hmmm. The definition of tolerance involves disagreeing. If we all agreed, we would not need tolerance. If we all agreed, we would not need discussion. All matters of controversy would be settled before any conversation began. There would be no debate needed.  But in the real world, we do need tolerance. We also need to continue to disagree and wrestle with ideas.

My day job includes analyzing classic literature, editing student essays, and helping young minds find ways to increase their vocabulary. This year, I also have the privilege of teaching an introductory Debate class. In Debate, more frequently than time allows in my sophomore English class, students are required to look at issues from two opposing points of view.  Debaters think, write and argue using reasonable yet divergent perspectives. How novel.

a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty;
a personal view, attitude or appraisal

By definition, opinions have a filter; they all have a lens. They are fraught with uncertainty and are based on a person's perspective. Opinions are not to be dismissed, but they are to be weighed and considered for what they really are. They are a person's best judgment. They are not factual. Opinions can be meaningful but should not be given the same weight as truth.

observable activity

These observable actions are choices often made as a result of our opinions. Okay, some impulsive people are acting out behaviors that do not seem to be based on any plan or firmly held belief. But for the most part, humans act on what they already believe. This distinction is important because it moves our ideas from our heads outward to our real life decisions. These choices then affect other people.

So many decisions facing our families, communities, churches, states and nation currently necessitate debate. Questions need to be asked. Widely accepted logic should be able to withstand critique. Decisions need to be cross examined. Listening and then deciding is a good process for humans. Once a decision is made for my side, I am still exercising tolerance. This is an important ingredient to protecting free press and a free society.  Making a decision, choosing a behavior or having a firmly held belief does not make me intolerant. I absolutely can disagree with you and still tolerate you. These are not mutually exclusive as the American education system and media has led us to believe.

Most importantly, as I admonish my high school students, it is possible to care about someone and to disagree with them.

I do it everyday.