You wont’ believe how long I sat here trying to think of a way to title this post! We already had the title 29 Lessons Marriage Has Taught Me, so I couldn’t very well use the same title 2x! Right? RIGHT.
Anyway, you came here for the second half of my marriage lessons and here I am rambling about titles! This second half of the series is even more dear to my heart than the first. The following lessons were some of the longest (and best) for me to learn. If you missed Part 1, just click HERE to catch up. 🙂
So without further ado, let’s begin!
16. I need to be a good steward of the joy God has given me.
It’s easy ask God “WHY?!” even in the good times. Why do I get this when my friend has to struggle so hard? Why am I enjoying such a comfortable time when my friend is dealing with that physical pain? Why am I married but they aren’t? Sometimes, these questions result in feeling bad about my current life stage, therefore not embracing it to the full capacity that God would wish for me.
Instead of asking why, I should be asking God, “How can I specifically help my friend? How can I enjoy this time of life while still uplifting her in the trial she is facing? How can I live this marriage for You, enjoying it, embracing it, and learning from it? Not why, but how! How can I be a good steward of the joy God has given me?
17. In the first hour of the morning, giving my day to God is imperative & brings a whole lot of joy to our marriage.
A lot changes when I hand my day back to God. The day was never mine, but I act like it is right when I open my eyes. After giving it over, that life-weary fog disappears. Coming into the presence of God changes my perspective on everything.
I become OK with plans changing. I’m more apt to ask Ben what he needs or wants, I am much slower to frustration when things aren’t going as I would like. I become more willing to live in the present & experience everything that’s lying at my feet. I have energy, because I’m not acting like I’m in control. And our marriage thrives and lives and laughs!
I’m not perfect. I make a boatload of mistakes every.single.day. We both do! But this giving over of each day has made a huge difference for us.
18. Marriage is a lifestyle not an event.
I understood that the wedding day is the event & it’s the beginning—yet now I am able to live the life that happens after the big day. We are learning how to nurture and grow a lifestyle together in the middle places. And a lot happens in the middle places!
Our everyday, individual choices determine our lifestyle, how we will endure, enjoy, and journey through all middles places. The middle places can be a beautiful, beautiful place. It’s not outright shiny like a wedding day, or somber like the end, it’s the middle–the beautiful, hard, growing, boring, exciting middle.
19. The enormity of saying yes becomes more real, while your trust in God becomes stronger.
Eventually, as a person, you accept that tragedy may happen to you & that death is imminent. And you’re OK with that. But getting married opens up that part of your heart all over again. It’s no longer about something happening to you, but rather, something happening to your spouse.
The enormity of commitment is long & far-reaching. We are staying together, no matter what tragedy or hard storm comes our way. As the reality of life grows, so does my trust in God. Ben doesn’t belong to me. He belongs to God. So it’s no longer just about accepting my own storms & imminent death, but accepting & trusting God for Ben’s life & whatever God has planned for him.
20. My husband is an individual separate from the people of my past or the perceptions that I have.
Like it or not, and no matter how hard I tried, I still had ideas about who this spouse is, and what I expected him to be like. When I gave up all of those expectations of who he should be and what he should act like, I realized he’s just an individual like myself. Giving up who I think he is becomes a sure way to fall in love with who he actually is.
And I have found that Ben is always better than my expectations or my perceptions. He’s not perfect and we are both growing! But I’ve taken him out of the Sierra Box & let him be Ben. I married Ben, not Sierra Box Ben.
21. I’m more confident.
I didn’t realize how much confidence I was lacking in certain areas of my life until I got married. I tend to say sorry when I don’t need to. I tend to blame myself for any kind of wrong thing that happens in a relationship. I tend to be really, really hard on myself. Who isn’t?
And I know that I still cause problems, but Ben reminds me that I don’t need to shift everything on myself, feel the brunt of all those friendship burdens, and take the blame where it really isn’t due me. I’m learning to stand up for myself when I need to and leave the mentality that says, “If there is a problem, I’m always the cause.”
22. It’s not my business to make sure everyone is pleased with our business.
I was a lot better at this when I was younger. I just did & said things that I believed & often didn’t much care what other people thought. As I got older & chronic pain defined my life more & more, I began to lose a lot of that gumption for various reasons. So now, I’m learning over again to just be about my business and not worry what other people think of it.
We may miss certain events that people would rather us attend. We may choose how we live differently than people would expect us to. But it’s not my business to make sure everyone is high-fiving our choices. As husband & wife, Ben and I are making choices (small & big) that we believe God desires us to make. And that is the approval we seek. Not yours or hers or his.
23. There is purpose in a Quiet Life.
We got married. We left camping ministry. And suddenly, I was a homemaker. I had, at least, a year to be in the quiet, to learn how to cook, how to keep a home, to work through my own heart, but most of all, I learned how to keep still. For a couple months, I walked around in a fog, unsure what I was suppose to do with so much quiet. How was I suppose to live without the busy? I didn’t know how to do it.
It wasn’t until November that I had, through much quiet, learned how to be still, learned how to live a small life, learned how to serve God just as sincerely as I had in camp work. I learned I didn’t have to be busy to serve God. I learned that I could lead a quiet life, next to my husband, and have just as much purpose as I had when I was running around, working with people, and doing the noticed work of camp life.
24. I’ve learned to let things be messy.
I’ve always been a clean freak. Just ask my sisters! But since being married, I care less about the Pepsi can, the forgotten mug, the dirty socks. All these things mean I have a husband. And trust me, you couldn’t even consider Ben a messy person. I’m just a big-time clean freak! But I’m getting better at letting things be. These days, I’ve decided to enjoy the person behind the mess.
25. I’ve learned to not let the condescending tones & pessimistic predictions dictate the happiness of our marriage.
EX: Oh, just you wait until….You won’t always be greeting him when he walks in the door…..Your desire to talk to him will go away in a few years. EXCUSE ME, but I’m happily married and I’m going to enjoy it. I’m not going to let the pessimistic views take away from our happiness. I’m going enjoy what I have right in this moment. And I’m going to greet him at the door and you better believe I will be talking to my husband for the rest of our lives!
People say these pessimistic things as though it’s a crime to be happily married. They seem to discourage the honeymoon stage. But that stage is a key part of marriage, and those kinds of tones and phrases will not determine how I choose to live in the present or think about the future.
We are not living the “wait-until” days, we are living TODAY. And I hope that we let those hard times bring us closer together, not farther apart. In fact, I know that’s what we will strive for, no matter what they say.
26. I’ve learned to say things out loud.
I’ve noticed since dating Ben & now being married to him that I think all these wonderful things about him. His hair looks good. He smells really nice. His project is turning out well. I’m so proud of him….(you get the point). BUT, I forget to say all these things out loud. As though, merely thinking it will somehow let him know how I’m feeling.
I have this bucket of thoughts overflowing with good things about my husband, but he has no idea that’s what I’m thinking. People tell women all the time not to beat around the bush, to just say what’s bugging them already! But that goes for the good stuff too. I’m learning that if I’m thinking something good about my husband, I should voice it ASAP.
27.Thinking on what is real in our relationship & in our story removes outside pressures & allows me to live freely.
There are lessons to learn, things to do, places to go, dreams to catch, goals to make, budgets to stay within, friends to admire, wiser people to look up to, marriage books to read….the list goes on & on. BUT…What is real today? Not what might be real, what could be real, what could have been real. Not what they’re doing or what might happen for them that didn’t for us. None of that. What is real for us today?
This kind of “real thinking” shifts everything into focus. I can live free of the pressures I inadvertently place on myself all the time. What do we need to do today to better our relationship, heal hurts, love each other & enjoy our story? What is real for us today?
28. I’m learning to conquer my fears.
There is no one you should trust more to push you out of your comfort zone than your spouse. They do it gently, and no matter how irrational the fear, they still love you.
I got over my fear of cooking. I wasn’t scared of actual cooking, I was scared of failing. I’ve gotten over that. I LOVE cooking. Oh, how I enjoy it! I used to say, “I don’t know how to cook.” And he would say, “That’s fine, we will learn together.” And no matter what, he’s always been encouraging & the one time I really failed, he took me out to dinner!
Now, it’s driving. I have an irrational fear of driving. So bit by bit, I’m getting over that too. I drive just a little bit, and he doesn’t even get made when I accidentlly scrape the truck against the gate (shhh). So, this is love!
29. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can replace the joy and completion I have in Christ.
I love being married. It’s beautiful and wonderful in so, so many ways. But not even marriage, not even the joining of 2 people can replace what I have in Christ. Nothing compares to my life in Christ. Nothing compares to the love God gives me, or the force of tears that fall because of His goodness and provision for me.
If you know Christ, if you pursue Him every day, you already have the deepest joy you will ever experience on earth. You don’t need marriage to rise you up to a place of joy. You need God. And living in Him is glorious!
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