Thursday, February 17, 2011

Even If

I love Thursdays. For several reasons. First being that I survived Wednesday. Wednesdays are just crazy at our house and I always feel like I can relax once they are over. Second, it's Mom's Morning Out. Woo-hoo! Last week Kate refused to stay when I dropped her off. Totally threw me off because that was a new thing for her. She got sick a day or two later so I figured she just wasn't feeling good. Today, she started to pull the same thing, but I was eventually able to sneak off and my friend, Deborah, who runs the joint told me she didn't cry once. She even had a picture for proof.
So, with my few hours of free time I headed to our little downtown. I love our downtown. We just have the neatest stores and restaurants. Josh and I are celebrating V-day tomorrow (we've always done things on our own timetable :) so I was searching for his gift as well as a couple of other gifts. Right as I was picking his gift off the shelf he called. He was headed out to run some errands so I asked if he wanted to meet me for brunch. We've been talking for months about taking advantage of MMO and going for a morning date. We met at a little bookstore that also has a cafe in it. We enjoyed breakfast sandwiches and each other's company. To top off the morning, the weather is AMAZING. It feels like spring. I am a happy girl.

I'm not trying to incite any jealousy or ill feelings if you are still snowed in somewhere or are stuck in an office or haven't had a break from your kids in 45 days. Trust me, with the exception of being snowed in I've been there done that. I just share about my special morning because lately it has been on my heart to write about relationships, especially marriage. I always try to be honest and open about what is really going on in my life, not just how I would like it to appear. But, the truth is that it is not always fair to the people I love for me to share everything in our lives and my marriage is the place I feel the greatest need to protect. Early on in my marriage I decided that any issues Josh and I had needed to be shared only in my prayers. I realized that if I called my parents or my best friend every time I got frustrated over something then it would most likely lead to making Josh look bad, worrying other people, and even dragging them into a husband bashing party. I know that I did not want every frustration Josh had with me aired with whoever was around to listen.

With that said, I recently realized that it might be shocking to people to know that Josh and I have ever had issues or problems. And the truth is, for the most part we haven't. Nothing major that would require counseling or even anything that has lasted longer than a few days. Just your normal, we live together, have 3 small children, pastor a church, have cars that are always broke down, he leaves his socks in the middle of the living room, I have mood swings that make Attila the Hun seem loving, kind of stuff. What I'm saying is that we aren't always gazing lovingly into each other's eyes with hearts floating over our heads. That's what I'm saying. And I think it needs to be said. Because in our society I feel like we see two kinds of relationships. The ones that stink and make us wonder who thought putting men and women together was a good idea in the first place, and the ones that seem so blissfully perfect that they appear totally unattainable.

I thought I would share what I have learned about having a blissfully happy, but not all the time kind of relationship. And in a way I feel silly. I know there are people who have clothes that are older than mine and Josh's marriage. And yet, as I look at other people our age I feel like coming up on 10 years of marriage is a pretty miraculous feat in this day and time.

First, I will tell you some things that we have had that have worked against us:
-We were high school sweethearts. Statistics are not in our favor. Josh was only 19 when we got married.
-I was still in college.
-We had babies right away.
-I  struggled with clinical depression for over half of our marriage. If you have never experienced depression or living with someone who has it you can only imagine what that is like. If you have experienced it you know my husband deserves to be nominated for sainthood.
-We are in ministry. The statistics aren't good on that either.
-Our income was cut in more than half when we made the decision to go into ministry.

These are just some of the challenges we've faced and they don't hardly cover the more specific challenges we've encountered together. I share them because I feel like there is something about me and Josh that people look at us and think that things are easy for us. Just so you know, they're not. :) We are definitely blessed in many ways, but when I tell you that we have the marriage we do because we've worked for it, I mean it. I would love to say that our marriage works because we are both perfect human beings but lightening would strike even as I said it. There is still the hopeless romantic in me that believes that Josh and I are just meant to be together. I'm one of those people who really believes in soul mates. (That's my personal, overly romantic opinion. I can't prove it.) But I've learned that even if you are truly meant to be with someone it doesn't mean that it will always be easy. It just means it will always be worth it. Something that is so hard for me is realizing just how much Josh does know me. It is scary. Isn't it scary for people to really know you? The you that runs out of energy to be extra nice and smiley. The you that hasn't brushed your teeth or put on your make-up. The you that struggles and questions and doubts. At times I have felt desperate to go back to the dating days when he only knew certain things about me. The things I let people know. It seems impossible that someone could know EVERYTHING and still love me.

A few weeks ago I was cleaning out the Jeep and oh my word, there should be a law against how messy a vehicle can be. I would be in prison. Anyway, I came in toting an armful of clothes I had gathered from the back of the Jeep. I'm not talking kid's jackets. I'm talking my husband's clothes. Jeans. Tennis shoes. HIS SUIT JACKET! Seriously? I began to be concerned my husband must be walking around naked at times. How did all of these clothes end up in the car???? The truth is that I had just spent an hour scraping gum out of the door handles and I was at my breaking point. I walked in with the clothes and headed to the laundry room, but not without giving Josh THE LOOK.  He said he was sorry and asked if I still loved him. Because you know, after all of those things we've been through together, this was totally the worst thing. :) He then said, "Even if I'm a slob?" And the thing is, I do love him. Even if he is a slob. Just like he loves me even if my moods swing faster than a baseball bat. Even if I neurotically change the radio station after every song. Even if I make him watch What Not To Wear everyday. And we both love each other even if life throws punches at us.

I was one of those girls who had a list of what I was looking for in my man. I think everyone should have one to remind them of the things that are most important to them. Like my top two of being a Christian and being taller than me. :)  But the reality is that love isn't about finding someone who meets the requirements on a list. It's about finding the person that you can't help but love EVEN IF things aren't perfect.


Amber said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amber said...

Love this post and how true it is! I had a friend when I worked at the credit union that said she actually enjoed talking to me about her husband because I was not bashing my husband. (Not saying that to try to brag) but in this day and age that is what people like to do same with their kids. Sorry didn't mean to get off on a tangent =) I think it is awesome to grow more and more in love with your soul mate I know I do =)

Lori said...

There are times when it just hits me like WAM! I really said that out loud and it was sooo mean!! And I think, Ben didn't even flinch. One of the most precious things in my life is that I never am concerned that my husband is going to stop loving me or accepting me. I know there are no magic potions that make love and marriage last forever, but what Ben has shown me so far is that I'm not in this alone and he is willing to work for a good marriage a treasured marriage with me and that he loves me "even if." And I have also found that this is rare amoung people our age. Good post!