Everyone was playing in our backyard and I was gathering a bunch of different weeds and flowers to make a pretend dinner. I found the biggest leaves I could to use as plates, and when everything was finished I called them all over to sit […]
Month: April 2019
Recently, I received news that a family member was diagnosed with cancer.
I was not too happy with this news given my past experience with losing my mother, as well as family history. My guy (I omit his name for privacy reasons) was with me. Soon after hearing this news, I shut down on him. He told me to call her. I told him I needed time to process what I had just heard. It had already been a rough and trying week. He assured me he would be right beside me.
“I got you,” he said reassuringly.
“I’m fine,” I shot back definitively, lost in my own thoughts.
“I know you’re fine, but we are better together.”
The end of an era as a single woman.
Something in me shifted. Reality began to dawn on me. I was really not alone. I was not the single Siobhan, who’s used to navigating life and hardship completely alone, as I’ve been in past years. I’ve been through the trenches alone. I weathered my mother’s deterioration and death alone. I struggled through grief alone. When I lost most of my friends along the journey, I picked myself up and bandaged my own wounds alone. I lived overseas alone. For the past decade, I’ve navigated my ongoing battle with mental health alone, including weathering a psychological crisis alone…and when all was said and done, I bounced back alone. Even though I have since been gifted with the most amazing community I could ask for, even the beginning stages of my process through faith and sanctification was carried out alone. I never complained. Used to it all, I simply bootstrapped it and did what I had to do. All I had was myself.
This didn’t make me lonely. In fact, I rarely felt lonely. There are/were plenty of individuals in my life who love me. I could call on them and there were no doubts that they would show up if needed. I simply got used to being in the routine of carrying out life, and all that entails, alone.
This is why his words completely stopped me in my tracks. It was the first time I became cognitively aware that it was no longer just me. I became aware that I had to accept the fact that there was someone in my life to weather life with. For the first time in my life, its me and someone else.
In spite of my hesitation, he knew from the beginning that I was his wife. This was honestly not news I necessarily wanted to hear. Although I am now secure in my decision to follow him, it did not come without a fight (from me). At the tail end of my sabbatical, marriage was not something I desired. If I am allowed to be completely transparent, I still have to pray daily and pursue God regarding this decision. He came into my life out of nowhere. This man knew two weeks into knowing me (women, it really doesn’t take them long to know). My hesitation was long and hard. It still is.
Honeymoon stages lie.
Because of how I am wired, God had to orchestrate my relationship in the unique way he did, hesitation and all. The abruptness of it all coupled with the particular season I am in simply didn’t afford either one of us the time or opportunity for a “honeymoon” stage in our relationship. I simply had too much life going on. My poor guy had to jump, almost immediately, right into trenches he didn’t ask for. To my advantage, however, he was more than prepared for it. Without any effort on my part, God grew his heart and gave him a special grace for me. All he did was say yes to his calling to serve me in this season of my life. He got to work right away. It was only through my witnessing his persistence, commitment and diligence in this process that my heart has been able to grow for him more.
Nobody loves a honeymoon stage more than me. There is always something so life giving about seeing people in love (if they are in love). Love makes the world continue to go round, as they say. Honeymoon stages, however, can also be very deceptive, and are not great indicators of the ultimate trajectory of how a relationship or marriage will turn out. After all, most of my prior relationships ended as soon as this stage subsided, as it was found that neither one of us possessed anything substantial to sustain our commitment with each other, outside of infatuation. I wholeheartedly appreciate the way God has made things happen in my life, given that I wasn’t even given a slight opportunity to enter into an infatuation stage.
Fairy tales don’t exist.
I fully confess to being raised by Disney’s damsels in distress, cherry topped with my favorite teen classic Boy Meets World, who instilled within me the most unrealistic standards of love and marriage known to mankind. I grew well into my mid to late 20’s believing that Cory and Topanga set me up for the perfect love life. It also led to the false belief that in order to “arrive” in life, I needed to be married. This belief that my value as a woman would be “accentuated” or “confirmed” once I was permanently claimed by the opposite sex, eventually led me down a slippery slope of feeling worthless for a season. That other human being didn’t come, and all the times I previously perceived it did, it never sustained itself. Even in my current relationship, he does not complete or validate me. Even on our best days, neither one of us subscribe to an illusion of arriving.
I don’t want to give the impression that everything is a Debbie Downer in my current relationship. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. This is the most incredible, beautiful, edge-snatching-sanctifying experience God could have ever gifted me with (I’m sorry y’all, as skilled of a writer as I am, some expressions you just can’t code switch on). Within the context of the gospel, however, we both fall miserably short in the department of arriving and validation.
Obedience is always better. Especially when it hurts.
My sanctification process hurt. Even without the distraction of male attention, I was cut like a knife. It didn’t help that during the entire course of my sabbatical, as soon as I put a stop sign in this department it would be the convenient time where every potential suitor in the state of Texas would make his presence known (they came out of the wood works y’all). It really blew my mind. Saying no was easy at first…but as those potentials became more and more attractive and tempting, it became harder and harder. In fact, the very last “no” hurt. After I cut off the last potential out of obedience, I cried for more than a week. Saying no to something good to say yes to God is hard. He was too perfect for me. We vibed. We had chemistry. We even had the same theological stances….in fact, we listened to all the same pastors. We had so many of the same tastes. We just…clicked. But that didn’t matter. I heard God’s no loud and clear…and I didn’t like it. I didn’t understand it, but I submitted. It felt like death.
But that’s just it. God needed me to die, especially to myself. It didn’t matter if I was approached by a hundred men who were absolutely perfect for me. What would that profit me on an eternal scheme of things? He needed me to lay down my will for his. He wanted to be glorified in my life, not my desires. I made a commitment to give him everything. This meant trusting his “no” when that commitment to him became hard. The only thing to gain, was Christ for Christ sake. Soon after my tantrum, I began to find contentment in my singleness. Even dream guy became a distant memory that equated to a grain of salt the few times the thought of him actually did come up.
…and of course, it would be months later in this season of contentment that would be the exact timing when he would show up, seemingly out of nowhere. I couldn’t help but laugh at myself, and the way God works. We think we know what’s good, but we have to remember, its God who knows what’s best. And had I not listened to God, even when it was difficult, I would still have the blinders of my own will attached to my limited vision, and would still be chasing men who were never purposed for me in the first place. If not for obedience, I wouldn’t have even recognized the one God had for me.
Believe me, he did not come in the package I expected, or wanted. This is why clear vision is so important. We can be so blinded by what we believe is good only for our vision to turn out to be distorted by our own will.
I am so thankful for this Sabbatical experience, for significantly clearing my vision. This season of my life brought me so much closer to God, and helped me turn and keep my eyes on Him, especially in the midst of the current journey into marriage that I am on.
Written By: Siobhan Blot
When I first got saved, I made a random decision to break up with my boyfriend at the time, and go on a dating sabbatical. I received mixed reviews regarding my decision. People either thought I was crazy or brave. It’s unconventional to take a […]
The first time I ever laid my eyes on Chichen Itza I cried. It was unfathomable to consider I would actually one day stand in front of it. I also remember a time when I couldn’t imagine getting married. I didn’t think I would […]
Nothing quite requires you to be emotionally vulnerable with someone like marriage. Over the past four years my husband and I have had so much life thrown at us. It feels too big for us. Sometimes we still feel like kids yet we are growing and God is graciously is calling out more and more in us than I thought was even there. In the times that are hardest I realize how much my perspective of marriage has changed since before we got married and even year to year. The cracks in my foundation as an individual show more and yet God and my husband are always willing to get in the trenches with me and do the hard work of not just fixing but totally transforming my perspectives.
I’ve had my perspective shifted the most in the area I call “myths of marriage” or basically the expectations I had going into this thing that turned out to be not at all what was reality. Here are two (of many) marriage myths that have been busted since I got married.
Myth #1: Your spouse will always be a good partner and parent.
Okay now I’m not that naive. I know that people are never ALWAYS anything. Especially good. What I mean by this is I never really stopped to think about how I would react or feel if my spouse hurt me even in the smallest ways. Four years in and we are just now learning some of the habits we have that are hurtful to the other and trying to figure out where the root of that thing is. For example, (I’ll throw myself under the bus here) I have a habit of still being miss independent when it comes to certain things. I will bulldoze through and not really address my feelings out loud because sometimes I feel like I don’t even need to talk about them. It’s not even a big deal, until one day I stub my toe, or get a paper cut and 6 months of built up tears are hysterically cried meltdown style leaving my husband wondering why I don’t just talk to him. Who told me I had to be a pillar of strength when I actually felt like mush in a toddler’s hand? My husband has told me that the lack of communication deeply hurts him and can make him feel like I don’t trust him. Like a dagger through the heart. Patterns of sin I didn’t even realize were there are there and marriage helps me realize that not only am I broken in my relationships with people, but how much I don’t give God that brokenness or trust him with my whole self.
Along with a spouses ability to be amazing and do so many right, romantic, beautiful things comes the ability that they have to be ugly, rude, apathetic and prideful. No one goes into marriage thinking “man I can’t wait for the hard days when I don’t like you very much.” No one’s first thought when they look their newborn baby in the face is “wow, I can’t wait to watch your dad/mom yell at you out of frustration one day.” Most of the time we don’t understand the profoundness of work required for what we are venturing into. You can go into marriage with all the expectations in the world, or with no expectations and you will still get hurt by your spouse. The immense love they have for you is only realized by the immense power they have to hurt you. Commitment in marriage is risky business and it requires two people who aren’t blind to their level of brokenness. It requires two people who are committed to something more than just making the other happy. It requires a sacrificial love that is so foreign to how we are wired that we need to tap into someone greater to hold us together. Someone who can show us the joy of confessing our shortcomings and allowing others to see our imperfections. Someone who can lead us by example in what it means to forgive over and over and over. Someone who can teach us how to intentionally pray for our spouse and with our spouse. Someone who can show us how to be so compelled by love for the Father that we stop making our comfort, wants, and needs the greatest priority. That someone is Jesus and that is stuff only he can do in us. When you and your partner’s greatest hope is that your spouse won’t let you down, you will be hurt every time. When your greatest hope is that you want to serve and love your spouse to honor God, you will have some HARD work to do, but the freedom, peace and joy that comes with that is immeasurable.
Myth #2: The family you build with your spouse will make up for the brokenness in your own family.
I have witnessed so many single people swooning over marriage and their idea of what it will look like. I’m not one to throw caution and red flags in the face of someone dreaming over what the joys of marriage (unless someone asks ha!). because there are really dreamy awesome parts to it. My husband is my favorite person in the world and I get to watch God grow, shape and mold him constantly into the man He wants him to be. That’s pretty profound and beautiful to me. (Also he keeps getting more and more fine every year, which is also a huge perk)
However, sometimes I wish more people would park their thoughts on why they look at marriage they way they do. Good or bad.
Before I was married I definitely had rose colored glasses on when thinking of the possibilities of marriage. If I’m being completely honest I would look at aspects of my family and dream of the things that I wanted to do different. I would plan how I would forge my own path which is something I hear a lot of people do when talking about they family they hope to build with their spouse…
“I saw my dad so this and I want better for my wife”
“I don’t want to be dysfunctional like my extended family so we’re doing it this way”
“I never want my kids to experience this”
…and even though that can come from a great place of wanting more than what was provided for you, it can also cause us to hold our families hostage to fulfilling our expectations and desires about what that should be.
Marriage and the family is such a good gift. It’s full of fun moments and growth for everyone involved but, if it’s used as an escape from past hurts, current brokenness, family trauma or anything else, it doesn’t hold up as a foundation on its own. If the foundation of something is insecurity or fear, the cracks that are exposed down the line will show just that.
A few weeks ago I posted a meme that said, “marriage will expose what you didn’t allow God to heal in your singleness.”
I actually posted it twice because it is so true.
The fact is: just like the families we came from, the people we marry and birth have just as much ability to be broken and not meet our expectations. That’s why laying the foundation (yes, even in your singleness) is so important. Allow God to scrape up and muck out the patterns of unbelief, allowing yourself to be exposed in order to be freed from perfectionism, performance and people pleasing. If and when you do have a family, they aren’t the foundation of your joy, but Christ is all in all. Then you can fully enjoy the ups and downs with them . They aren’t the foundation, the foundation is for them.
Of course these aren’t the only myths of marriage we believe, but are definitely two I have personally struggled and still struggle with. At the root of my belief in these myths is ultimately the question of is God really good? Can fully trust him with all the uncertainties I experience in life? Do I ultimately want Him or just his stuff?
What about you? Even if you can easily answer the above questions does every aspect of your life reflect that? If your husband isn’t the dreamy man you once thought is God still faithful? If the family you were born into never appreciates and understands you, is God’s approval enough? If you never get that job, promotion, or your business never takes off is He still the Sustainer of your very life? If your child never sees healing on this side of heaven will you still open your mouth to praise Him? Is the love of God alone enough for you or do you use it as a supplement when things aren’t going your way?
The myths we have about relationships often correlate to misgivings we have about God. The more open we are to have our myths busted, the more readily we can receive His grace and forgiveness and get to behold more and more the beauty of who Jesus is.
Written By: Calah Jackson
Female, 27. Single. I would have internally flinched if I knew I would be on the other side of those stats when I was twenty. Nine years ago I never could’ve imagined I would become somewhat of a pillar for singleness in my friendship circles. […]