Saturday, August 10, 2013

4 Big Lessons in 8 Short Weeks

Ben and I have been married for two months already! Reflecting back on these last eight weeks, I can already see that God has been teaching me some important lessons. Some painful ones, but good ones. I can pull four big things I have learned in the last two months, and I’m thankful that in just eight short weeks I have been able to pull out so many important lessons. Much of this is because I made a conscious decision to keep my eyes open to what God would be doing in the first months of marriage. I’m excited for the many more things God will reveal to me in all the months and years he blesses me and Ben with.

Lesson #1: A good attitude is one of the most powerful things in life.

I had to learn this lesson on day one of our marriage. On Friday, June 7th, the sun shone and clear skies reigned. Even though my phone showed Saturday as being the only rainy day of the week, on Friday I held out hope that the sun would continue to shine and chase the rainclouds away. After all the rehearsal dinner festivities were over I was giddy with excitement, because I knew that rain or shine, tomorrow would be the best day of my life so far! However, in the back of my mind, no matter how much I told myself that if it rained I would be fine, I hoped beyond hope that the rain wouldn’t come.

At 6:00 AM on June 8th, my alarm went off and I woke up without a problem. (I’ve had to get up at 5:30 every day this summer for work…I wish I was able to wake up that easily all the time!) The first thing I heard? Rain. Wind. Thunder. For a brief second my heart sank. Every bride dreams of her perfect, sunshiny, happily ever after wedding day. Why, on the most important day of my life, was the rain pouring and thunder shaking the sky? Why today?

But then I closed my eyes and made the choice NOT to let this control how my day was going to go. Would the rain and thunder tamper with eighteen months of carefully crafted wedding day plans? Absolutely. But would the rain ruin my marriage? Absolutely not! I told myself: You can let the rain ruin your day or you can CHOOSE to have a good attitude and make this day everything you dreamed about. It’s up to you.

I chose to make the best of it. Why look for reasons to dampen my big day? Regardless of the rain, I knew I was marrying my prince charming. So, we altered plans. My daddy went out and bought a bunch of pink umbrellas, and me and my bridesmaids all held tightly onto them as we ventured from our hair appointments to the church. Was it a hassle? Sort of. Did it ruin the day? Nope. We worked around it. Instead of having our bridal reveal outside under the trees, we moved it inside and still got some great shots. The rain didn’t keep our guests away, and we still got married! The rain continued to mess up some plans, but so what? The point of the day was to commit our lives to each other—not to get the perfect wedding shots I was dreaming about. (Our wedding pictures still turned out beautifully even though we didn’t get to do the outdoor shots I wanted. Check them out on my profile!)

My point is this: We had to make a lot of adjustments on our wedding day due to rain. I could have chosen to be a “bridezilla” and freak out about it. Instead, I took a step back and was able to see the bigger picture. My good attitude had power! Lots of people were concerned that I was crushed, but I was able to encourage them with my positive thinking. This lesson continues to come to me day after day. There are many little things that threaten to ruin my days. But stepping back and choosing to see the bigger picture is beyond powerful. You can choose to have a good attitude, if you try hard enough.

Lesson #2: A good attitude is powerful, but praying and reading scripture together daily is MUCH more powerful

When Ben and I first dated, we made the decision not to read scripture or pray together. As 15 and 16 year olds, we didn’t want to reflect the powerful good feelings that Bible reading and prayer can bring back on to each other. We wanted to grow in Christ, and at that point in our lives we needed to do it separately so that our times in prayer and scripture were Christ focused. As we progressed in our relationship we both knew that marriage was definitely in our future, so we gradually stared moving towards growing together—but  we were still cautious. One thing that worked well for us was reading Christian books together, from authors such as Max Lucado. This was an easy way for Ben to practice being a spiritual leader, because many of these books have Bible studies built right into them. The questions were all laid out, and he was able to lead good discussion during those times.

Now, as a married couple, we are enjoying spending much more time growing together in Christ. We are currently reading through a book called “Quiet Times for Couples” by H. Norman Wright. This book was given to us as a wedding present, and it is a wonderful book! Much like Ben and I had to ease into seeking Christ together as a dating couple, we’ve had to ease into fulfilling our roles—Ben as a spiritual leader and I as his helpmate. This book has made that transition much smoother for us and it’s allowed us to see just how important it is to pray and read scripture together. We’re enjoying the new level of discussion it has allowed us to have—it’s easy to talk about our days, but sometimes spiritual discussions are hard to get going. When reading this book, discussing scripture, what God has been teaching us in our individual quiet times, and praying together becomes much easier.

We’ve seen many marriages crumble around us. We don’t want to experience that pain. So we are combating that right from the beginning and making Christ the center of our marriage. One important thing we learned in our pre-marital counseling was to love God above our spouse and love our spouse above our future kids. I’m so thankful that we were able to lay out those boundaries before we hit any rough patches in our marriage! When the rough patches hit I’m grateful that the solid foundation we are building now will be able to get us through.

Lesson #3: Making time for fun is essential

When Ben and I first started dating we made a list of all the things we wanted to do together—from silly things like going swimming at the local pool to attending a David Crowder Band concert. It was an extensive list, filled with goofy dreams. I love that right from the beginning we made fun a priority. Life is too short to be serious all the time! Being such a young couple can make having fun a bit tougher, as fun things often are expensive. So we’ve gotten creative J

So far we’ve built a blanket fort and watched Harry Potter inside, gone to a drive-in movie theater, gone on a few fishing dates, and picnicked out at Wall Lake. We’re still in “the honeymoon” phase and I know down the road some of the magic might fade. That will be when making time for fun becomes crucial! It will be easy for this priority to slide down the list as we add kids into the mix, but we’re going to try hard to keep it in the top slots. Like I said above, we have to first love God and then love each other above our kids. It’s going to be hard. But I think it will be well worth it. I think our kids will be more secure if the can see that their mommy and daddy love each other. If we never make time to be silly together and spend time apart from them , I think things will get tense, and kids can sense tension. We don’t want them to ever have to question our love for each other. So even though it will be difficult, it’s too important for the well-being of our entire family to not do so.

Lesson #4: The devil is already working on destruction

The devil really wants our marriage to fail, and I have a feeling he is going to try anything to make this happen. Right now he is attacking my attitude and trying as hard as he can to crumble the positive one I am trying to hold onto.

We live in a world that tells us we deserve to be happy all the time. The world tells us we need nice houses, lots of money, spiffy cars, and expensive clothes to be happy. It’s so easy to buy into that! I only have to scroll down my Facebook or Pinterest page to see it. I am bombarded daily with images of things I want in my life—and it’s difficult to hold onto a positive attitude when my heart is screaming “I want more!” I’ve had to close my eyes a few times and mentally list all the things God has blessed me with to refocus myself. Listening to K-Love and Life 96.5 on my way back and forth from work has helped tremendously too. It’s a daily struggle, but I’m not going to let the devil get his way into my marriage.

I’m anticipating a tough battle in the coming weeks as Ben and I attend weddings. Even receiving the invitations to these weddings has been difficult, as I think back to my own and wish we had done things differently. I know I will be taking in all the details the brides put into their weddings and comparing it to my own, wishing I had done this or that differently. I’m going to have to constantly be reminding myself that the wedding is just one day—all those details fade. The marriage itself is what is most important. And our wedding day was absolutely magical—I don’t want to taint that special day with thoughts of what I could have done differently. Because there is no detail we could have added that would have changed how special our day was.

Thanks for lifting us up in prayer and supporting us as we get started. It’s already been a blast—we’re so very excited for all that God has in store for us, whatever that may be.