This evening, while I should have been urging the little ones to an earlier bedtime (so hard in the Summer!), I perused some of my blog bookmarks that have long been neglected.
I clicked on "Amy's Humble Musings" - a blog I haven't read in ages, but always enjoy (besides that it makes me feel like a city girl that lacks any life skills what-so-ever), and a few posts down, this caught my attention. Her post led me to this post (isn't that how reading blogs is?) and I found it sobering.
You know by now, I hope, that I seek to be real and honest in my writing (if you can call my ramblings on about life with eight children and how overwhelmed I am, actual writing). I won't, of course, write here about conflict with my Coach. This isn't the place for it. Besides, he IS amazing. You know this. I am so very grateful for him and how patiently he puts up with me.
That doesn't, in any way, mean that we don't HAVE conflict. We are human. We are sinful. We are selfish (me, in particular, with the selfish part). We don't always respond as we should or laugh when we ought and all too often we choose to be defensive when we should be willing to admit wrong, or lash out when we should forgive.
This is marriage. This is real life.
Life is about relationships. With God and with others. Marriage is the closest one of all on this earth. Relationships are tough. Sometimes? Impossible. Always? Humbling. If we are honest. Because we are dealing with other people.
When the Coach and I were first married, I marveled about our similarities. There were many - maybe more than most newlyweds. Our upbringing and our values were almost identical (in the realm of worldview and belief systems). We thought alike about the world, about God, about the Bible, about children. It seemed almost too easy to fall into life together because we rarely, if ever, disagreed about anything at any time.
However, God has a way of bringing us, sometimes all in a rush, sometimes very slowly (depending upon our willingness to bend to His correction), to the end of ourselves.
Suddenly, one day, my perfectly wonderful, perfectly amazing, perfectly perfect life. . . wasn't. Don't get me wrong. The Coach? He was still a wonderful husband, a faithful provider, a dependable soul that I could easily love and help and enjoy.
But me? Not so much. I really wanted to be in control (big surprise, huh?). I was horribly selfish, stubborn, and determined to be right (Because I was, of course.). In my heart of hearts, I'd never realized how ugly I was inside. How manipulative. How spoiled in having my own way. How desperately I needed the continuing work of my Savior in my heart. And still do.
That day (many years ago), my world seemed to come crashing down around me. I was trying so hard. Working my best at being a sweet, submissive wife. A calm, consistent mother. I was failing miserably. That perfect marriage? It seemed hopeless, suddenly, out of reach. I hadn't really told him how hard it was to adjust to marriage, motherhood, and motherhood, and motherhood, and . . . you get the idea. I hadn't been humble enough to share my struggles with him. Or sensitive enough to realize that it wasn't easy for him, either. We hadn't learned to offer each other grace.
Because you see. . . for all we had in common (and still do), we were NOT the same. He is the 6th born of 10 children, the middle in a pack of boys. I am the 3rd born, baby, and only girl. Big difference. Although growing up with brothers did make it easier for me to adjust to living with a man (and eventually four boys, too), I had a doting father who indulged me, probably far too often. He had a firm mother who taught him frugality and responsibility.
It isn't easy, after all, to join your life with someone else's. Anyone else's. Whether your backgrounds, upbringings, financial situations, beliefs, or families are similiar or not.
Only by God's grace.
I hope and pray that I have grown and changed. I know I don't "feel" like I'm a good wife or mother very often anymore. I also know the Coach knows ME, now. The real, impatient, not always gracious ME. He knows it and he loves me still. No. Not still. More.
He's still a man - strong, consistent, faithful. I'm still a woman - emotional, unpredictable, easily overwhelmed. We won't ever be "the same". But we are learning that those differences are God's perfect gift to us. Without marriage to my Coach, without motherhood, without 8 children, financial pressures, health issues (the trials of life). . I wouldn't have ever realized what I was really like inside. I see, now, what a blessing the pressure has been. It's revealed things in me that need to change. It has, as I've learned to depend on the Lord and seek Him in the pressure, begun to change me. Some days the process seems painfully slow. We are far from perfect.
But we are perfect for eachother.
And I love him.
We are learning that our differences are what make us stronger. We are beginning to bear the fruit of learning to live in harmony and we are learning to love the contrasts in our personalities. We know that we need each other. For balance. For growth. Even for character development (which is usually painful). I love that I don't WANT to change him, anymore. That he's given up on changing me (it was hopeless, anyway).
Marriage is not for the faint of heart. Joining yourself to another soul for life is not easy. It's not simple. And it's a lot of work. It's not the ultimate "happy ending". In spite of what we see in the movies, it is NOT all about feelings and romance. It requires a lot of dying to self, laying down your life, giving up of rights, and commitment.
But it's OH so worth it.
If you are struggling in your marriage (and we all are at some level at some time), "get off the island". Find someone who is wise and who you can trust. Be humble enough to ask for and get help. Marriages are failing all around you, don't let yours be one of them.
Most problems don't have simple, easy answers (and I hate it when someone says that they do). Most struggles take TIME to work through. The Coach and I have a long way to go in our marriage, too. But I can promise you that your marriage and mine are worth fighting for. Marriage was God's idea, after all. He's in the business of redeeming it. When you and your spouse can begin to persevere through trials, learn to be humble, forgive each other over and over, appreciate your differences, and above all, depend on the Lord for the grace it takes to live along side each other. . . your marriage (and the joy you have in it) will grow by leaps and bounds.
Perfect? No. Wonderful? Absolutely!
To God be the Glory.