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Growing Together (or Happy Anniversary!)

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photo by Jennie and Eddie

Today marks our second anniversary as husband and wife—and what a year it has been! We’ve had some incredible fun—it was truly the year of weddings, babies and travel. August alone took us to three weddings + a baby dedication. So much to celebrate! All that to say, this was also the year of BUSY. And I learned some hard lessons along the way about how to be a better wife and what it really takes to have a strong marriage.

I experienced some really ground-breaking growth personally and spiritually—even professionally. I also took on a bunch of work in the name of carving out my path to “success” and hopefully launching a business. But looking back, I want to shake myself and say “What was I thinking?!” I was over-committed, under delivering and carrying a weight of guilt and misery everywhere I went. How did this happen??

The truth is, I liked feeling like my gifts and talents were seen and appreciated by others—so I took on their work, which really wasn’t in line with where I wanted myself, my work, or my marriage to be. But I felt validated. And I liked being able to say how busy I was.  After all, isn’t that what a successful woman looks like? All around us are messages about how these successful women are juggling all of these many things and there is a sort of pride in just how stretched thin they all are.  SO even though I was miserable and constantly feeling like I was dropping balls and letting people down, I took on more and more in the hopes that it would propel me to the next echelon.

But all the while, my marriage was suffering. And what’s worse is I didn’t even realize it for quite some time. And when I did, I then tried to pass the blame to my husband. One of those lies society tells us is that it’s not that you’ve put your marriage in a bad place, but that he just isn’t supportive of your dreams, or he’s trying to hold you back. He doesn’t want you to be successful. He’s jealous.  That this is just the new normal—all women are wildly busy and their husbands just need to keep up.

So while I was chasing personal, professional and spiritual growth, I was leaving my poor husband in the dust. He felt like he was doing life alone. And truthfully, he was much of the time. I’d made time for everything else in the world and left him out of it.

This is not what God desired for marriage—for our marriage.

I have been doing Jennie Allen’s study Anything over the past few weeks with some amazing girls (LOVE this study, it’s wrecking and changing me. I can’t recommend it enough!!) and it’s like God was using Jennie to call me out. Because clearly I kept pushing His nudges to the back of my mind. And I just broke down.  She says:

But part of trusting this God and part of obeying him is participating in his plan for our relationships. For married women, running ahead of our husbands shows them we don’t need them, shows them they can’t lead us, that we are faster, deeper, and love God more. If you’re married, know that making our husbands feel inferior is not God’s will. …be careful not to create a grand plan that God and your husband aren’t a part of.

Wow. Guilty! I had done exactly that. And I really was trying to serve God in all of it. I desire so much to live sold out to Him, but somewhere along the way I got off track. And I had tried to run ahead of my husband and didn’t understand why he didn’t see my big dreams and ideas and all I was striving for, while he didn’t feel like I saw him.

But that’s the problem isn’t it? When we are striving for success, we forget about what God has really called us to. And that’s to love people. Love them like He loves us. And the person I love the most, was getting the least of me.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s important that we all work on our personal growth, developing our God-given gifts and talents to impact His kingdom, to grow closer to the Father and love others well. But we also need to be growing together with our spouses. All of that personal growth means nothing if we aren’t showing the one God has appointed just for us that same love.

And beyond that, imagine how much bigger our impact can be on those around us if we are doing it together, both on board, on the same page, cheering each other on in our gifts and talents.  I know God has a plan and purpose for me, for us, for our marriage…and it starts at home…building each other up, growing together, so that we can then go out and share that love with our community and the people God puts in our path.

that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. ~1 Corinthians 25-26

So in year three, I’m going to be intentional about slowing things down and fighting the urge to fill up my schedule. Learning to be comfortable saying no when I need to. And when I do add things, I want to be sure it will add to my marriage as well, not take away.

I am absolutely a work in progress, and there will probably definitely be times when I fail at this and have to step back to reassess. But that’s why we need the Father, right? Because it is only through Him that we can be made whole again.

David, Bear, I love you to the moon and back. Thank you for growing with me and being patient when I take little detours. Here’s to doing life together. XOXO.

And just because it’s what we always watch today…

Bear and Kate’s Wedding Highlight Film from Lynn Films on Vimeo.

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