marriage

“You could write about your real thoughts on marriage.”

One simple sentence caused an explosion of my inner monologue.

There couldn’t be a worse topic for me to write about.
How is that even helpful?
People don’t want to hear my cynical thoughts on marriage.
I have absolutely nothing helpful or positive to say. 

So I didn’t say or write anything.

After a few days it started to eat at me.  It started to creep up in my day, invading my mind while making dinner for one.  It filled the empty space in my bed that I attempt to fill with a cozy cocoon of pillows.  As subtle as those reminders are, nothing makes the ache more evident than the season of Christmas cards. The glittery notes with hastily written addresses that unintentionally scream look what you’re missing out on.  Those cheerful red and green envelopes that land in my mailbox with updates from college friends, pictures of their beautiful families, and wishes for a happy 2015.

Why don’t you write about your real thoughts on marriage?

What are my real thoughts on marriage? 

It’s not a safe answer.  It’s not a pretty answer.

As a single 26 year old, life is more of a balancing act than anything else.  Balancing between two completely different worlds and attitudes:

  1. The bitter and single female who refuses to start a life without a husband. AKA: The girl who complains about being single so often, everyone is constantly irritated by her.

OR

  1. The overly cheerful cat lady who swears that being alone is an incredible gift from God and makes sure everyone knows how happy and content she is.

Like a pendulum, I’m constantly trying to find equilibrium.  I want to be confident in an adventurous life without a spouse while at the same time being real about how miserable it can be.   And then someone has the nerve to ask about my real thoughts on marriage. And it begins again.  Back and forth.

The deepest part of my being believes in marriage.  I believe in what marriage represents – love, commitment, and a promise between two people who want to do this whole life thing with an adventure buddy.  I believe marriage is one of the most creative ways the Lord describe His relationship with us.  I believe there is a good way to do marriage and a bad way to do marriage. I’ve witnessed both.

My real thoughts about marriage?

Marriage hasn’t been very nice to me.

Marriage dressed up in a fancy tuxedo and a beautiful dress and made life really complicated.

See, when two people get married, they start something new.  They have a first dance, celebrate with friends, go on an expensive vacation, eventually come home and decorate their first home, spend quality time together (let’s be real… quality time and sex), and life as they know it is forever different.  It’s hard. It’s a transition. It’s an adjustment.  But it involves two people dedicated to making it work.

So what happens to everyone else in that couple’s life?

I think it’s easy to forget that everything changes for them too. 

I understand that newlyweds need to focus on their marriage and be intentional on where they spend their time, money, and energy.  They’re adjusting to a new life that looks, sounds, smells, feels, and works differently than it always did before.  It SHOULD be a priority. It SHOULD be different.

But I also think it’s easy for married people to forget what it’s like to be on the other side.

They forget what it’s like to go home to an empty apartment after a wedding.  They forget what it’s like to be single in a group of happy, hand-holding couples.  They forget what it’s like to invest in someone that eventually chooses to love somebody else more.  They forget what it’s like to continuously receive gorgeous wedding invitations for their dearest friends yet dread showing up alone.  They forget how hard it is to fight off the presence of jealousy. They forget how unbelievably INSULTING it is to hear “just give it to God,” implying that single people obviously don’t have the ability to trust Him enough.  They forget how much it hurts to be demoted from “best friend” to “just a friend”.  More than anything else, they forget what it’s like to not have a number one person.  The one human  being that gains the closest access to the deepest parts of a heart.  The person that would, without fail, tackle anything in the world to make all the bad things disappear.

A really good friend of mine wrote a blog post once about how much it sucks to be left behind.   She wrote about how she was happy for those people and their life changes, but while celebrating with them, it was (and is) still painful to be left. She mentioned how sometimes it’d even be nice to do the leaving.

It’s similar to how I feel about marriage.  It steals my friends.  It makes me feel like a third wheel and causes nights that involve me crying myself to sleep.  Marriage makes me feel unworthy, misunderstood, unknown, and damaged.  Marriage makes me feel forgotten by the people who promised to never change.  Marriage reminds me of a guy from the past who promised me the world but eventually decided he wanted something different for his life.  Marriage looks at me and gloats about the friendships I was forced to give up and surrender in the name of their eternal love and happiness.  Marriage infuriates me when I think of the people who wanted it so badly and never got it… yet divorces and broken families happen all the time.  Marriage exhausts me through the messiness of transition and working through new boundaries of “appropriate” relationships. The word marriage makes me feel more alone than the word single.  That doesn’t seem okay to me.

What do you really think about marriage?

After reading all of that, it might be hard to believe that I think marriage is incredible.  You might think I’m lying when I say I am constantly amazed at what the Lord can do through people who have dedicated their lives to each other and to Him.  Marriage is a powerful gift and I hope that one day I’ll get to say “I do” to some crazy cool guy.

Unfortunately, I know part of my heart will be breaking that day.

There’s a good chance someone I love will be feeling sad, lonely, and completely left behind.

-after sex. a word of advice-

If you’re out there having sex and potentially making babies, I’ve got a word of advice for you. It’ll just take a minute.

If you do end up bringing a baby into this world, please do one of two things:

either

1. Raise the baby. Love it; take care of its needs. Be there for him/her as he/she grows up. Take responsibility every day of that child’s life. Make your relationship with that child a high priority. Do your part to develop him/her into a decent and responsible human being.

or

2. Give up your rights completely and let someone else take care of that child the way it deserves to be cared for.

Every child deserves option #1. And you can’t do it halfway. It’s all or nothing or you’re a jerk.

Don’t claim legal rights and expect someone else to take care of your child for you. Don’t tell your kid how much you love and miss him – and then forget to set aside gas money so you can actually pick him up and bring him home. Don’t be the parent of the kid who has homes all over three counties (with people you don’t even know) because you can’t grow up enough to provide a stable home for her.

And I’m not talking about money. It doesn’t take money to create a stable home for a child. It takes consistency. Time. Love. Say what you mean and mean what you say. You’ll have to make some sacrifices. Learn to think about yourself a little less and think about your child’s needs a little more. It may mean kicking a habit.

Kids are smart enough to understand the difference between hearing the words “I love you” and seeing “I love you” lived out. When you use the words but don’t follow them up with loving actions, all you’re doing is messing with your kid’s head. What child doesn’t want to believe that his parent really loves him? Yeah, they want to hear the words. But they need to feel the truth in them.

As a parent, you may mess up every single day – we all do. The point is: do it. Be a parent. Be there for your kid. You won’t be a perfect parent, but if you give it your best shot, you’ll be the best parent your kids could ever have.

Be a real parent or don’t be a parent at all.

Ask Simon

Since we are being honest here….

I have a problem asking for help. I’m getting better when it comes to my husband. We have been married eight and a half years, so I guess it’s about time that I start getting better at it. But asking others for help: nope. Don’t like it. I avoid it at all costs. It doesn’t matter if its financial help, help watching the kids, help cleaning/cooking/etc, or help with my emotions. I just don’t like to do it. I like to feel like I have it all under control. I like to feel like my exceptional planning and organizing and worrying and stressing and being a control freak has lead me to keep it all together. All on my own.

This plays out in my home with my kids and husband. It manifests itself in all my relationships. Let that sink in. ALL my relationships. I’m the one that has it together. I like being the one that everyone can count on to get stuff done. I’m the one without a care in the world because I have stressed myself to perfection.

Uh.

I’m full of crap. I don’t have it all together. I am so far from perfect that perfect and Sarah shouldn’t ever be mentioned in the same sentence. Ever. And as a result, all of my relationships suffer. All of them.

Even the most important one. The one with my Father. Not Steve Stoltzfus, my biological father. The father of Heaven and Earth. The Creator. The Alpha and Omega. My Friend. Jesus Christ. The one Person that I should have no trouble asking to help me, I just can’t seem to do it.

I’m working on it.

The other day, I was reading about the crucifixion in Matthew 27. I have read the account many times, in each of the gospels. Then I got to verse 32 and my jaw dropped. Jesus needed help carrying his cross. Why in the world had I never seen that before? For me, it made the verses earlier in Matthew make much more sense and applicable. Jesus had told his disciples in chapter 16 that if anyone wanted to be his follower, then they should take up their cross and follow Him. I always thought that verse contradicted the verses where he says that His yoke is easy and the burden is light. In my head, how in the world could the yoke be easy if I was also carrying a cross? I mean, I knew that I wasn’t wearing an actual yoke and I wasn’t carrying an actual cross, but a cross is heavy! Even a metaphorical one.

So I need to get over my control freak complex. I need to learn that I can’t fix everything on my own. I need to learn to ask my “Simon” for help when I need it. I need to learn that my help really does come from the Lord, the creator of Heaven and Earth. I need to learn that He has sent some Simons to help me out, but I need to approach them.

If Jesus, the Son of God, needed help carrying His cross, why in the world do I think I have to carry mine all on my own? Like Jesus, I’ll take up my cross. I’ll walk and struggle under its weight. Then a “Simon” will come and help me out. I’ll probably have to ask for the help since I don’t have soldiers forcing my cross on to someone else, but if I can muster the courage to ask for help, help is going to come. It may not look like I want it to look, but help will come.

-listening, still-

Since the name and theme of this blog is Honestly, we can post things here that aren’t appropriate to say in polite society… right?

Do you know what I find myself thinking in certain group settings?

I am smarter than almost everyone in this room. So why is it that my voice isn’t being heard at all? I’ve thought more deeply than most of you, read more, observed people more closely, listened more thoroughly to people’s words and the thoughts behind them. I’ve gained a lot of wisdom in my quiet moments and could potentially have a lot of important thoughts to share with you. So why are you the one talking? You who thrive on pouring words out of your mouth and into other people’s ears, whether they want them or not.

As I sit here quietly listening to your barrage of language, I’m trying my hardest not to be bitter; not to hate you. Later, when I leave this room and return to the freedom of my own thoughts, I will fight the urge to scream to the world, “I am not an idiot! I do have an intelligent brain in my head, and just because you can out-talk me doesn’t mean that you’re superior to me.”

“I do matter.”

Sometimes that’s all I really want people to know.