Tag Archives: vulnerability

The Act of Choosing Every Day

We have spent the last few days celebrating seven years of marriage. Seven! We enjoyed a much needed, relaxing, kid-free weekend (hallelujah!), and then yesterday–the official day–we let the kids in on the fun of celebrating with us.

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Anniversaries of any kind invite so much reflection, and this has been no exception. My heart is full as I realize the strength and gift of what we have. I would by no means claim to be an expert, but I think I have realized one very important truth for building a healthy marriage: you have the opportunity every single day to choose each other all over again, to turn towards each other even when you’d rather turn away.

I always wondered how people could say they had just drifted apart. How does that happen? How do years go by and suddenly there is nothing where there was once a loving relationship? And I think it has something to do with this choosing.

Our responses and interactions with each other in the flurry of ordinary, every day living either add a brick towards forming a wall between us or they bring us a step closer into deeper connection with each other. It is not enough to choose each other as a spouse and have a pretty ceremony and say our vows. We have to go on choosing each other every single day.

When I don’t take him granted and I express my appreciation for all the little ways he helps carry the load, I am choosing him.

When he hurts or disappoints me and rather than attacking him, I express myself with humility and grace, I am choosing him.

When I hurt or disappoint him and I swallow my pride to say I’m sorry and make it right, I am choosing him.

When I recognize he is weary and stressed and I say, “Hey, why don’t you go for a run?,” I am choosing him.

Again and again, countless ways, I can move closer to his heart or I can step away.

We haven’t always gotten this right. There have been seasons when poor communication or overwhelming circumstances were allowed to build a wall between us, and it was tremendous work to tear that thing down. And I can see how something like that could grow insurmountable to where it seems completely hopeless. Those chasms can get harder and harder to cross.

But in the opposite vein, even when vulnerability and humility seemed the painful option, I have never ever regretted choosing that path. It becomes easier to choose that step now rather than deal with the wall later.

And with this understanding, I have a renewed passion for the next season of our marriage, a renewed commitment to being even more intentional about choosing this amazing man all over again, every single day. There are so many ways we can still say, “I do,” and I am looking forward to finding them.

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Filed under Covenant Relationships, Hope, Marriage

Knowing Myself

Image by Jennifer Upton

Image by Jennifer Upton

It began last July. I could feel the change in my bones long before the visible signs appeared. I even said it out loud to someone I trusted:

I feel a shift coming. A transition. But it doesn’t make sense.

It didn’t make even a little bit of sense. The restless was intense, but I was trying to tame it because any significant change seemed unlikely. Every aspect of our life seemed rooted – the good and the bad. There were commitments, relationships, plans.

But here we are, not even one year later, and the entire landscape of our lives is completely altered. I wish I could tell you it was all pleasant and lovely, but it’s not. Because when things are deeply rooted, it can be intensely difficult and painful to get them uprooted.

And it still hasn’t made sense. Until I read these words from Brené Brown this morning:

I did believe that I could opt out of feeling vulnerable, so when it happened – when the phone rang with unimaginable news; or when I was scared; or when I loved so fiercely that rather than feeling gratitude and joy I could only prepare for loss – I controlled things. I managed situations and micromanaged the people around me. I performed until there was no energy left to feel. I made what was uncertain certain, no matter what the cost. I stayed so busy that the truth of my hurting and my fear could never catch up. I looked brave on the outside and felt scared on the inside.

Slowly I learned that this shield was too heavy to lug around, and that the only thing it really did was keep me from knowing myself and letting myself be known. The shield required that I stay small and quiet behind it so as not to draw attention to my imperfections and vulnerabilities. It was exhausting.

– from Daring Greatly (*emphasis added)

I have read these words over and over today. Someone else wrote them, but oh, do they feel like they came right off the pages of my heart. There it was. Epiphany. (My one word for the year – so far I haven’t had any of the epiphanies I thought or hoped I would have, but never mind.)

Everything that has been stripped away is something that kept me from knowing myself and, by default, kept me from letting myself be known. And it had to go because it was also a year ago that I really started praying about and taking steps towards living creatively, towards “Wholeheartedness”, as Brené Brown calls it, even though I didn’t have the words for it at the time. But it is basically impossible to live creatively and wholeheartedly if you have buried the knowledge of yourself under layers of busy and performance and smallness.

So in spite of the oh-so-painful process this has been and will likely continue to be for a little longer, I embrace it fully because I want to know myself and not be afraid to let myself be known. I want a whole heart that results in a safe place for others to know themselves and let themselves be known. I don’t want to live exhausted and emotionally numb anymore. I want to live fully.

And now back to you – what things have you come to realize get in the way of you knowing yourself and letting yourself be known?

 

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Filed under Change, Creativity, Perfectionism