Satisfied in You

I mentioned last week about my struggles last year that resulted in me taking antidepressants. Though they improved my symptoms, I still struggled greatly for awhile. I would lie in bed at night plagued by negative thoughts. I felt angry and bitter and guilt and upset over feeling angry and bitter. It was a vicious cycle. One night sometime after I went to the doctor, I was lying in bed unable to sleep. I turned on Spotify and listened to the discover weekly playlist that had been compiled for me based on songs I had listened to. I was lying there not paying much attention to the music until one song came on.  Satisfied in You (Psalm 42) by The Sing Team struck me in ways I had never expected; I had never heard the song before. The lyrics shook me to the core:

I have lost my appetite
And a flood is welling up behind my eyes
So I eat the tears I cry
And if that were not enough
They know just the words to cut and tear and prod
When they ask me “Whereʼs your God?”

Why are you downcast, oh my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
I can remember when You showed Your face to me

As a deer pants for water, so my soul thirsts for You
And when I survey Your splendor, You so faithfully renew
Like a bed of rest for my fainting flesh

When Iʼm looking at the ground
Itʼs an inbred feedback loop that drags me down
So itʼs time to lift my brow
And remember better days
When I loved to worship You and learn Your ways
Singing sweetest songs of praise

Let my sighs give way to songs that sing about Your faithfulness
Let my pain reveal Your glory as my only real rest
Let my losses show me all I truly have is You

So when Iʼm drowning out at sea
And all Your breakers and Your waves crash down on me
Iʼll recall your safety scheme
Youʼre the one who made the waves
And Your Son went out to suffer in my place
And to show me that Iʼm safe

Why am I down?
Why so disturbed?
I am satisfied in You

From the first line, I was hooked. I listened to the cries of a broken soul. I listened to the hope that the broken soul found. I listened as I sighed and traded sorrow for peace.

•••

I still struggled. I still had bad nights. But I would listen to that song. I would read Psalm 42. It became my lifeline. I would ask myself the same question that psalmist did: “Why are you downcast, oh my soul?” God had been so faithful to me. These trials weren’t going to last forever. I stopped trying so hard. I stopped torturing myself with feelings of guilt. I simply gave in to the peace the Father was offering. I became satisfied in Him. Again and again.

•••

To this day that song makes me think about the first time I heard it, the night that it was a life raft for me. Ironically, with this post already being planned for this week, a few weeks ago our pastor spoke on Psalm 42. I again sat and reflected on God’s faithfulness. How I came out of that trial with more empathy and more hope than ever before.

When feelings from before try to creep their way back into my life, I remember the night that I said “no” to my downcast, disturbed soul, the night that I “lifted my brows and remembered better days,” the night that I allowed myself to become satisfied in Him and filled with His peace.

•••

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.

Psalm 42:5

Photo Credit: Gary Bendig

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Even If You Don’t

“I know You’re able and I know You can/
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand/
But even if You don’t/
My hope is You alone/
I know the sorrow, and I know the hurt/
Would all go away if You’d just say the word/
But even if You don’t/
My hope is You alone”

-“Even If” by MercyMe

I find this song and the message in it so beautiful. As a believer, things happen that I don’t understand. It can be so frustrating sometimes when I know that God could do x, but it doesn’t happen. I think this is particularly the case when it comes to health. We know God can bring healing – there’s several accounts in the Bible of God’s healing power as well as several accounts of it happening today – but sometimes He doesn’t. Why? I don’t know. Isaiah 55:9 says, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.

•••

Even so, it can be so incredibly hard when you’re amidst a terrible situation, and the miracle you’re praying for doesn’t happen. It can make you fall on your knees and scream why until your throat is raw. It can make you doubt. It can make you angry. But can it also be well with your soul?

•••

Recently I was talking about how while I pray for miracles, I also pray for God’s will and for the strength for whatever happens to be well with my soul. I started thinking about it this way: When you see someone whose illness or injury has been healed, it inspires awe and praise of God. But have you ever heard a story about someone with a serious injury or disease that, though they haven’t been healed, they are one of the most faith-filled, joyous people you’ve ever heard of? I don’t know about you, but that inspires just as much awe and praise in my heart! It brings me to tears when I hear stories of people in terrible circumstances that can praise the Lord more than someone like me! How great is their faith!

•••

You bet I pray for miracles – but I also pray for strength and for God’s will. The things that happen on this Earth are bigger than me and the way that I would like things to happen. We live in a fallen world of sin, death, and disease. Bad things happen. Sometimes God steps in, but sometimes He doesn’t. I don’t know why, but all I can do is cling to the Rock that is higher than I, and as the song says, “[pray that You] give me the strength to be able to sing, ‘it is well with my soul'” and allow the miracles that don’t happen to strengthen my faith and my empathy towards others who are in similar situations. When the miracles come, I praise the Lord. When the miracles don’t come, I praise the Lord. It is well with my soul.

•••

Photo credit: Ben White

More than a Physical Act: A Story of Grace

Luke Holter in his book Filthy Fisherman says, “Nearly every Christian I know has an amazing story of God’s grace and redemption. None of us are above His grace; we all badly need it. Once we have been redeemed, our job is to tell that story of redemption” (Emphasis added). And here, in the final post of the marriage series, I’m going to tell you some of my story.

•••

I often think of how my husband and I are going to approach the topic of sex with our children someday, because our story is a story of grace and healing. My relationship history includes manipulation and abuse (you can read more about that in Toxic) as well as me going along and making my own mistakes. Sex and it’s counterparts were just things on a “Don’t” list for me. I didn’t understand what the harm really was. I mean, I knew God created sex to be in the context of marriage, but I didn’t understand why.

Needless to say, I had trouble with staying away from things on that list. I didn’t understand the emotional bondage that came along with physical acts. Though I didn’t have sex until my wedding night, I had given a lot of myself away prior to meeting my husband, and the breakup that followed devastated me.

•••

My heart breaks when I see others go through things like this. It breaks my heart when people believe society’s lies that sex is casual. It breaks my heart when people weaponize sex. It breaks my heart to see the aftermath of breakups when too much was given. What breaks my heart more is when I see people looking down their noses, thinking that others are undeserving of grace – as if that’s our call to make. Christ came to redeem all of us, not just those whose sins we deem are worthy of being saved from. It reminds me of the story of the adulterous woman in John 8:

but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

At dawn He appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around Him, and He sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing Him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.When they kept on questioning Him, He straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Jesus didn’t tell her that her actions were okay, but He didn’t condemn her either. This is the kind of scandalous love and grace we are called to give if we call ourselves followers of Christ. We are called to love people with the truth, but we are not called to condemn them. I can’t tell you how much it hurt when I heard people shaming those caught up in sexual sin while I sat there with my dirty little secret holding back tears and shame.

•••

When my husband and I have kids, I want to be honest with them – about the truth of what sex is and also about my mistakes. I want them to know that sexuality is not a bad thing. I want them to know that God designed marriage and He designed sex as a part of that. It is the ultimate display of intimacy and vulnerability – it is becoming “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). It is so much more than a physical act. 

I want our kids to grow up knowing that they can ask questions and that they can talk to us freely. I also want my kids to know that we love them unconditionally. I pray that our children will hold tight to the truth and that they will protect their hearts. I pray they will not go through the heartbreak that so many others and myself have gone through. But if my child comes home one day, crying because she made a mistake, you can bet I will be right there crying with her, not because her actions are excused, but because I have been there and because God didn’t turn me away. How could I look at her with shame and condemnation? How could I spit in the name of grace?

•••

While others looked at me with shame and condemnation, God looked at me with love and grace. I know that He grieved over my choices and He rejoiced when I repented. And I know that I am thankful for the grace that was lavished on me while I was undeserving. I know that while the decisions I may have made were not wise, I experienced God’s grace and love all the more, and I can’t help but extend it to others.

•••

To those of you misguided by society’s portrayal of what sex should be, it’s not true. It is so much more than the cheap version being sold.

To those of you who have a warped view of sex because of what others have done to you, this isn’t how it’s supposed to be. This isn’t all there is. There is hope and there is healing.

To those of you who are critical of those caught up in sexual sin, remember grace. Don’t let your hearts be hardened.

To those of you caught up in mistakes you have made, I’m crying with you. It’s not over. Grace is so much bigger than any mistake you will ever make.

•••

Photo Credit: Bekah Russom

I Don’t Need to be Right

At this point my husband and I have been married for five months, and as of this week, we’ve been together for two years!

yay.humility.blog

Our relationship has had its ups and downs as all relationships do, and we’ve matured so much since the beginning of our relationship. Where we are now is so much more beautiful than I could have dreamed – getting here has been a lot harder than I thought it would have been, too. You always hear that marriage is harder than you think it will be, and I believe that that is absolutely true (I also believe it can be more wonderful than you ever thought, too). The hardest thing in our relationship for me – other than getting over fears resulting from past relationships (more about that in Toxic) – has been dealing with my pride.

Humility can be an issue in a relationship at any point, but you don’t realize how prideful you can really be until you share everything with someone: bank accounts, food, a bathroom. All of a sudden you realize how much you like things to be done your way and your way only. You realize how much you truly value your own opinion. You may also realize how dangerous this is to your marriage.

I think Francis Chan says it well in You and Me Forever:

“[Jesus’] humility is the key to a healthy marriage. If two people make it their goal to imitate the humility of Christ, everything else will take care of itself. It really is that simple. Arguments escalate when we want to be right more than we want to be Christ. […] You must determine your goal. What matters most: winning arguments or resembling Christ?” (Emphasis added).

It is easy to argue that you’re right and not so easy to stop and listen to someone else’s opinion. It is easy to to want things to be convenient and in our own best interest, but not so easy to take into consideration someone else’s thoughts and feelings. It is easy to be selfish, but not so easy to be selfless. But who said life was going to be easy?

It doesn’t help that we live in a world that preaches self-preservation, a message that is quite contradictory to the Gospel and the teachings about servant-hood that come from the Ultimate Servant. It can be so easy to slip into self-preservation mode, trying to protect my way of doing things or to slip into the “wife is always right” way of thinking and discount my husband’s opinion. But I don’t want to be that kind of person. I want to listen to my husband’s side of the story and see things through his eyes. I want to listen to his opinions, thoughts, dreams, and ideas even if they don’t mesh perfectly with mine. I want to put his needs before my own. I want to love him selflessly. I want him to see a mirror of our Savior’s love when he sees how I love him.  I don’t need to be right all the time.

And you know what? It’s hard, yet I have hope. I have hope because Scripture says we are not obligated to live according to the flesh (Romans 8:12). I am a new Creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). I now walk by the Spirit, and the mindset of the Spirit is life and peace (Romans 8:6). The stronger my relationship with Christ becomes, the more I have the mindset of the Spirit and the more I look like Christ.

I deeply desire Christ-likeness in all aspects of my life, and I love seeing the fruit of my relationship with Him in my marriage. I want to shower my husband with the love of his Savior rather than telling him how little he matters to me when I act in prideful ways (because if we’re honest that is what pride does).

I am far from perfect – my husband sure knows that – but I desire to cultivate an environment of humility in my marriage. Every time I choose to listen instead of interrupt, every time I choose not to say hurtful things out of spite, every time I choose to build him up instead of myself, these are victories. They are strengthening my marriage. They are acts of love.

•••

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1 Corinthians 13 4-7

Photo Credit:  Ben White

You and Me Forever

When my husband and I were engaged and Genelle was engaged to her husband, a friend of ours took Genelle and I out to lunch. Before we left she gave us each a copy of You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity by Francis and Lisa Chan. The book sat around through my engagement, but I picked it up recently.

The message of the book is simply this: Marriage is amazing, but it is not the most important thing. At first, this was a hard pill for me to swallow. I was taught that marriage is the most important human relationship we can have, and it is – but it’s not everything. I’m going to share things with you both from the book and from my own searching into what marriage is meant to look like. So, here we go!

•••

Our ultimate mission is to make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). That’s what Jesus commanded us to do before He ascended. We are to bring people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and show them what it is like to follow Him. That is our ultimate mission.

So what does that have to do with marriage? Well, a lot actually.

First, if we’re not careful, our marriages can become an idol. They can become our primary focus, distracting us from our ultimate mission – Now, I’m not discounting the importance and wonderfulness of marriage, I promise, just hang with me!

Second, marriage is a vessel. Our marriages on earth are to resemble the relationship between Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:22-33). Our marriages are supposed to look different. The way we love our spouses should be showing what selfless love looks like: the kind of Love that would bear a cross so the world could be in communion with a holy and perfect God. 

Third, our marriages are strengthened when we are focused on the mission together, when we are serving together. It’s crazy how much a common goal can bring you together. The book uses the example of serving on a mission team: You can come into the situation complete strangers, but after working towards a common goal, you leave bonded. I know this is absolutely true in my marriage. When my husband and I are focused on the mission, we grow closer together. Furthermore, when we are focused on Christ in general, when we pray together and discuss the Word together, we grow so much closer to one another.

Fourth, marriage is a part of our testimony. We are not always strong in our marriages, but that just gives Christ plenty of room to show us that His grace is sufficient and He is strong in our weakness.

•••

Marriage is amazing. It is a beautiful, God-created design. I love being married, but it’s not everything to me. I focus on growing my marriage, on loving my husband selflessly, on growing myself so I can better love my husband, but it is not my everything. In the five short months that we have been married – and the nearly two years we have been together – I have already seen how God is using the testimony of our story to reach others. It is such a beautiful thing. I love that my marriage is about more than just the two of us.

Marriage is the most important human relationship we have while we live on this earth. So many things can come between us and our spouses if we let them. While sometimes God calls us to make sacrifices for His mission – such as leaving home to speak while our spouse stays home or going on a mission trip by ourselves – I don’t think He would ever call us to do something that would put our marriages in danger. If God calls us to do something, we have to trust that He will provide for all of our needs, including emotional ones. Just like I’ve told some of the kids at camp this week when they’ve been missing their parents: “Mommy and Daddy are out there showing teens what it looks like to follow Jesus. They’re out there making disciples, and that’s awesome! So when you miss them, just remember that they are doing awesome things for Jesus.” I then give them a big hug and they snuggle into bed and fall asleep with a little more peace. I’ve had to tell myself that this week, too, because I miss my husband while he’s been out there serving with the kids’ parents.

These things, these sacrifices, can be hard, but we have to keep our eyes on the mission – yet we also need to remember that our spouses aren’t superhuman and they need our love and encouragement during these times, too. We can’t leave them in the dust, saying, “See ya, later!” in the name of Jesus. We have to realize that while on this earth, we are one. Communication needs to stay as open as it can. Prayer and encouragement need to happen as often as they can. Love needs to happen always. Part of love, though, is sacrifice. Saying, “I’ll hold the fort down while you go where God has called you. It’ll be  hard, but I can’t wait to hear about it when you come home. I’ll miss you, call when you can, but go do what God has called you to do.”

•••

Whether you’re about to get married or have been for awhile, You and Me Forever is a great read. It’s humbling and beautiful. It can be a hard pill to swallow, but my marriage is better for it.

Until next week, lovelies!

 

 

The American Sitcom Marriage

One of my biggest pet peeves has been – and probably always will be – how the media (by which I mainly mean movies and TV) portrays marriage: the couple is head-over-heels in love at the wedding and during the honeymoon, then fast forward five to ten years and you’re left with an image of the the stereotypical ball-and-chain. The nagging wife. The husband who comes home from work and sits on the couch drinking beer and watching TV. Husband and wife rarely speaking to one another except to complain about what the other person is doing wrong. Sex is viewed as an obligation. They are nothing more than glorified roommates – and sometimes I wouldn’t even include the word “glorified.”

This seriously bothers me because this is what people think marriage is supposed to look like, and it’s not! Don’t get me wrong, the “honeymoon phase” ends and I don’t think we should present marriage as being perfect, either, because it’s not.  People shouldn’t go into marriage expecting it to be wonderful all the time. There are tears. There are disagreements. There are rough patches. Love languages change. Marriage is hard, but rewarding. Trying, but humbling. Messy, but beautiful. But marriage is worth fighting for.

•••

What breaks my heart the most, though, is when real people are making the “ball-and-chain” comments when they learn that I am married. Instead of saying, “What a beautiful journey you’re beginning. It’s going to be hard, but it’s going to be so worth it” they say, “Just wait a few years. See how you feel then.” This really upsets me. One, because they are so incorrectly portraying what marriage is supposed to look like, and two, because it means that they aren’t experiencing marriage the way it should be experienced.

•••

I’m not okay with settling for the American Sitcom Marriage. I want the rich, deep marriage that God intended. I wasn’t okay with it long before I even met my husband. I don’t want young people to watch TV and think that marriage is going to be awful and boring (it certainly isn’t!). I don’t want those who are already married to be okay with less than God’s best. This is why I’m writing a series on marriage, the first post of which you just read!

Next week, I’m going to talk about while marriage is designed to be amazing, marriage is not all that there is.

•••

As always, get in touch! You can email me at wordssweeterthanhoneyblog@gmail.com, on Twitter (@BrandiVermette), or on Instagram (@brandigrace96)!

While I am Here

“If only I could graduate already.”

“If only I was a mom already.”

“If only I had the resources to reach out the way I want to.”

 

These are all thoughts that roll through my head. And in the previous seasons of life it was, “If only I could be in college already” or “If only I could get married already.” These kinds of thoughts are always right around the corner if I’m not careful. What I’m really saying is “If only I was in any season of life other than the one I’m in.”

It’s easy to think that way, isn’t it? We think “If only I get to x then I’ll be satisfied.” Then we get to x and suddenly we’re wishing we’re onto y. Before we know it we’ve gone through the alphabet three times over and all we’ve truly accomplished is wishing our lives away. 

I don’t want to miss my life because I’m choosing to be discontent in the season I’m in. I don’t want to be blind to the blessings of today because I’m day dreaming about tomorrow.

•••

Sometimes it’s more than just wishing that you were in a better looking spot down the road. Sometimes you’re in a season of life that is so dark, you don’t know how you’re going to get through it. The hope that things will change, that tomorrow may be better, that you won’t be in the situation forever, is all that you have going for you – I’ve been there, too. Sometimes it takes actually getting through the rough patch to see the purpose or even just the good things that were there among the mess. I want to look for good things in the storm, though; I want to find the silver lining – no matter how small – while it’s still raining, because undoubtedly there is one.

•••

Whether it’s a difficult season or just a season that isn’t my favorite, I don’t want to breed discontent.  I’ve longed before to reach x so much that I’ve taken shortcuts, only to put myself in a situation that was worse than the one I started in (I talk about this in Toxic) – I don’t want to live my life that way. I want to see the purpose in the season I’m in – and even if I don’t see it, I want to walk by faith and trust that I’m there for a reason, whatever that may be. I want to notice the blessings of the seasons I’m in. I want to be grateful. I want to live in the season I’m in.

•••

Tomorrow I may be there, but for now, while I am here, let me be like a flower taking in what is given to me and grow.

 

 

 

The Burning Bush and the Gentle Whisper

For the longest time I thought that feeling God’s presence or hearing from God had to be this big, monumental thing. Sometimes it is – but it’s not always.

Sometimes we encounter God in ways that can only be described as “big,” but sometimes He comes in the little moments, like in 1 Kings 19:11-13:

“The Lord said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’

•••

I’ve experienced what I would call “Burning Bush” moments, moments when the Holy Spirit’s presence is so powerful, so overwhelming, that it shakes me to my core – but I’ve also had countless “Gentle Whisper” moments that are just as significant. Often times I have felt the Lord’s presence the most when I’ve been lying in bed in the middle of the night, crying out to Him, and then suddenly feeling peace that is unexplainable; or when I’m reading His Word and feel a tug at my heart; or when I’m worshiping, amazed that I am singing to my Savior.

It’s not important whether the experiences we have with God are big or little, what’s important is that we are encountering God Almighty. I honestly don’t think Elijah was like, “Gee, God, why did You have to come in a whisper? I would have much preferred You come to me in some sort of burning forestry like you did with Moses.”

Both Elijah and Moses had encounters with God, each equally as real and significant as the other. Don’t become so disheartened by the fact that you haven’t had any “big moments” that you become deafened to the gentle whisper. God is the God that appeared to both Moses and Elijah, and He speaks to our hearts in different ways.

•••

You will seek me and find me when you seek Me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:13

Toxic 

Lately I’ve been revisiting the past few years of my life, seeing how I got from point A to point B, from the girl I was to the woman I am. I’ve thought of the periods of grief, of joy, of growing. I’ve looked back and I’ve seen purpose. I’ve seen God’s hand in every season of my life. I see how He worked out every horrible thing into something good – even if the only good that came out if it was to relate to someone else.

If I were to tell you everything that God’s hand has been in, every bad situation that He turned for the good, it would take writing a book. Instead, I’m going to tell you today about just one area.

Since I was a Freshman in high school I had a tendency to get myself into toxic relationships – not all of them were, but some. It started when I got my first boyfriend. I was fourteen, naive, and honestly just didn’t know that the way I was being treated was awful.

I didn’t know it wasn’t normal to be forced to do things I didn’t want to do.

I didn’t know it wasn’t normal to be talked to like I wasn’t a person.

I didn’t know that I was being manipulated.

I just didn’t know, but when I figured out – with the help of my best friend – that the way I was being treated was not okay, I ended the relationship. And the three months that I was in that relationship impacted me for years.

I then dated someone else and he broke up with me because I stood my ground. Though I was heart broken, I moved on with a sense of dignity.

My Sophomore year of high school I got into a relationship that I was in for nearly two years. It wasn’t a bad relationship, it just wasn’t meant to be. But when it ended, I was heart broken so badly I didn’t know how I would go on; however, though I had been following Jesus for a few years at this point, He truly became my anchor at this time.

Despite that I began to trust Jesus and rely on Him so much more during this season of my life, I still wasn’t truly content in Him. Almost a year after that relationship ended, I dated someone else, someone I really shouldn’t have.

Things were okay at first and then red flags started popping up. I should have left, but I didn’t. I didn’t want to be alone. But because I didn’t want to be alone, I allowed myself to be treated horribly.

I set standards and boundaries.

He said he agreed.

Then he pushed them.

I pretended everything was fine.

The stress of dealing with – and hiding – the mental, emotional, and sexual abuse that occurred in the relationship left me physically ill.

It got to the point where I wasn’t staying because I didn’t want to be alone, I stayed because I was scared to leave.

Finally, after breaking down and telling my best friend what had really been going on, I ended the relationship.

The aftermath of that first relationship was nothing compared to this one. It left me so broken, so scared, so untrusting, that when I began dating my husband, I was terrified – even though I knew from being friends with him and knowing his character that he wouldn’t treat me like the others that came before him.

If I had to change plans, I prepared myself for the backlash – it never came.

If things were moving too fast emotionally and I told him we needed to slow down, I waited for him to get upset and tell me how stupid I was being – he never did.

He took everything at my pace. He was so patient, kind, and loving. It was amazing – and strange.

He accepted my past and took me as I was.

It was a beautiful display of selfless love.

But it still wasn’t enough.

I was still hurting. I was still scared. I still hadn’t truly given it over to Christ. So for much of the time that we were dating and engaged, I started giving Christ the pieces of my past, and for every piece I gave Him, He returned it with a peace of His own.

I truly forgave.

I truly moved on.

•••

I have been married to my sweet husband for four months now. I am at peace with my past. If it starts to try to work its way to the surface, I remind myself that it served a purpose.

Because of that last, awful relationship I learned what it meant to be content in Christ.

I learned to trust God with my relationships.

And, in a roundabout way, my best friend ended up dating her husband because of it!

One of the most important purposes I have found looking back on this time is the empathy I’ve gained because of it.

When I see someone in a toxic relationship, I no longer wonder critically why they don’t leave.

I look and I know that there are so many reasons why they might not, and it breaks my heart.

I look and I know what it feels like to be treated like you are less than human.

I look and know what it feels like to not know how to get out.

I look and I know that there is hope found in Jesus to heal their brokenness.

•••

This post wasn’t easy to write, but it’s been on my heart for some time. Though I have forgiven, moved on, and healed, it is still not easy to relive; however, it’s still part of my testimony. It’s a part of my life that screams about God’s faithfulness. So I sat down and wrote to share hope. Hope that God works in even some of the worst times in our lives. Hope that we are not alone in these dark times that we’ve gone through. Hope that someone out there understands. And, most importantly, hope that Christ is Lord even in the dark times, and He is the Healer of all broken things – including hearts.

•••

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.

Romans 8:28

 

Photo credit: unsplash-logoKristof Rasschaert

Battling Laziness

When my husband and I first got married, we had a pretty good routine going. We were eating healthy, meal planning, going to the gym, and we had a cleaning schedule for our apartment. A few months later, though, a series of unfortunate events happened that threw us off track and we never really recovered. What started out as actual reasons to neglect housework and whatnot, eventually just turned to laziness. After awhile, we decided something needed to change; this laziness wasn’t good for us in more than one way. Physically, we did not feel very well because we were not eating well and we were no longer exercising. Our apartment was also taking a toll as was our spiritual lives. I was no longer carving out time to spend with God, I was giving Him whatever time I had left over – if any.

Scripture is dense when it comes to the topic of laziness (seriously, if you don’t believe me, Google it); it’s even one of the 7 Deadly Sins! As I said, we decided that we needed to battle the laziness that was taking over our lives, and we decided to do it as a team. We knew that individually we didn’t stand a chance, but sometimes being a team is hard. It can be hard to encourage one another about something like this without it coming across as nagging. It’s hard to motivate someone else when you don’t want to motivate yourself to do the same thing.

Despite these things, we decided to give it a shot. Making lifestyle changes doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a process that requires steps – and you have to remember that even baby steps are steps. So that is what we started doing – and are still doing – implementing baby steps to get our lives back on track to where we’d like them to be. We’re trying to avoid eating out when we can and to start meal planning again. We’ve started tag-teaming the housework.

A huge part of combatting laziness is effective time management. I’ve started using the planning app Cozi (it is AMAZING, check it out!) again. I have also created a quiet time basket full of everything I could possibly need during quiet time (Bible, highliter, pens,  Bible commentary, journals, lotion in case my hand get dry, etc). We are trying to work on getting up earlier so we can eat a good breakfast and have quiet time, but this has been our most difficult obstacle so far. I also use my 45 minute commute to sometimes listen to podcasts (my current favorites are the Read Scripture Podcast Series by Francis Chan and the Uniquely Woman podcast) – I can make the choice to wake up late and not have time for things, but I can’t make the choice to not drive all the way to work. Other times I listen to worship music, and, of course, other times I just have jam sessions.

Our current goal is to start going to the gym again. As I said, life change is made through baby steps and each baby step, no matter how small, is a victory that should be celebrated. Whether it’s laziness or some other obstacle that you are pushing to overcome, just remember that each day is a new day and a new chance – heck, each hour is a new chance – and to celebrate the victories along the way.