Wednesday, September 9, 2015

learning to love.

It had been a few weeks since we'd gone out for a date night, so last Wednesday was something we were both looking forward to. I put on my makeup + did my hair for the first time in a few days (mom probz), we both dressed to impress (each other, that is), Grandma manned the bungalow + the babe for a few hours, and we bolted to Copper River Grill with a delicious salad on our minds. Dinner and ice cream was the plan for the evening, but both of us were full from dinner so we (I) decided to do a Swoozie's run-through before getting dessert to let our food settle first. Plans changed, and we never got ice cream. Instead of ending our night on a sweet note, we had a disagreement that escalated into us not talking to each other during the ride home.

Marriage has been a great teacher thus far, and the lessons we learn are often times painful + heavy. I think that the majority of people enter into this union believing that all will be pleasant and it will be the ultimate healer of the regrets we have + the mistakes we've made. We believe that marriage will be the "clean slate" that we need to finally triumph over all the weaknesses we have, but it's only taken me several years to discover the elephant-sized lie that this is. One of the biggest, most life-changing lessons I have learned (and, let's be honest, am still learning) is that I do not trust God enough. I continually realize that my inability to let Him be in control is the source of so many of the frustrations that I have. He created my every moment, but I still think that the outcome I've come up with is better than His. My prideful heart continually goes against the will of God, because I have foolishly convinced myself that if I'm in control, nothing will go wrong. I am constantly going back and forth between declaring that Christ is my Lord and trying my best to take matters into my own hands. I'm a modern-day Peter with best of intentions and immature follow-throughs happening only seconds between each other. I pray for wisdom as I seek the Lord, only to shove Him out of the way in my attempt to save the day when I think I've received my "answer."

So, why get married? Why not just live with someone without the pressure of jumping in to a lifelong commitment? If we're honest, a lot of us have probably contemplated these questions. Sure, marriage is good and all, but is it worth the hassle and heartache? I can't answer for everyone, but I can certainly tell you that my marriage is a precious gift from God. It's not a gift that is always wrapped in milk chocolate wrapping paper and cream cheese bows, but it is always for me and not against me. My harsh words + spiteful behavior hurt my husband in those moments when my flesh wins out over my spirit, and although I can't take back what I do + say, I can do something a lot harder: humble myself and confess my wrongdoings. Pretending like nothing ever happened is easier in the moment, but the habits that are created from doing so will leave a trail of pride + foolishness behind. Do I enjoy admitting that I am wrong? Absolutely not. But grace meets me right where I am and helps me clean up the mess I've made as I trade folly for wisdom and anger for peace. As humans, we are prone to push things under the rug until there is no more room and we are convinced that our only option is to throw out the old rug and replace it with a new one. This cycle repeats as long as we let it, but dealing with the mess as we go, however, brings edification, sanctification, and good fruit.

Twelve years ago, on September 9th, 2003, a shy boy asked a not-so-shy girl to be his girlfriend after school. Those two fourteen year-olds had no idea that they'd grow up, get married, and have a son together, but they also didn't know how hard it would be to go from falling in love to staying in love. They couldn't fathom that date nights wouldn't always consist of staring into each other's eyes and exchanging bashful giggles, but now they know that those nights alone are meant for them to grow in godliness, not just pretend like everything is okay. As much that young girl enjoyed those blissful first few months as his girlfriend, she enjoys the commitment of being his wife more. Growing pains may not be pleasant at the time, and more may be coming right after these subside, but the Author of every struggle we face has proven Himself to be trustworthy over + over + over again as He works all things together for the good of His children (Romans 8:28).

In spite of break ups, tears, doubts, betrayal, and many other far-from-perfect situations we have faced, God has been pressing into us so much so that naivety is being replaced with Truth, selfishness is being transformed into selflessness, careless words are being changed to mindful responses, and "for better or for worse" is being put into practice in more ways than we ever dreamed they would be. Some think they should never have to change for someone else and that the other person should just love them for who they are, and while I believe that real love is absolutely unconditional, I'm also a firm believer that my concern for myself should never be greater than my concern for my husband. I want to be known for how I love my husband when love isn't "deserved," and if that means I give up parts of myself that keep me from doing so, I pray that I would willingly surrender them.

In a lot of ways, we're still like those two high school freshmen. I'm thankful, however, that God has been diligently stretching + challenging us with new ways so we are able to love each other harder + more fiercely in comparison with where we began. The longer we spend loving each other, the better we become at operating more out of an expression of our faith instead of reacting based on our feelings. I would rather argue with my Teesh outside of an ice cream shop than vacation in paradise with someone else, because even on my worst days, he tries his best to love me like Christ loves His Church, His bride (Ephesians 5:25). Aside from my salvation, there is nothing more sacred to me than the union we share, and this thing called marriage is worth every bit of hassle and heartache it takes to teach us to love each other more wholeheartedly.
Happy anniversary to us, Mr. Bargeron!
Here's to more growth, more fights, more flirting, more forgiveness, more silliness, and more memories as our journey continues. I love you with everything in me, and I'm thankful that I don't have to doubt that you love me the same.

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