Individually One Flesh

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Mark 10:8 “and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh.” (NASB)

Marriage is the most unique relationship between humans. When a man and woman marry, it takes time to learn how to live together.  How to agree and disagree. Whether or not to even have children.

Then, if having kids, how to raise them and discipline them. How to encourage them in the midst of parents coming from 2 different perspectives, backgrounds, and maybe even world  views.

There are many outside forces to consider. The husband and wife learn they have to set boundaries for outside forces so they can follow the path together that they set out on when they said, “I do”. There are things to compromise on, things to agree on, and times where tongues may or may not be held, when one does things the other doesn’t like.

I learned a lot from my first marriage that failed. I was rejected by a husband who was far from the image he sold me before we married. I was shoved out of the way to make room for another woman. As I struggled with my hurt, I also learned how to become an individual again. I lost “me” completely within that marriage.

When God brought His choice for me into my life, I remembered my previous marriage experience. How bad things were with a man who would have nothing to do with God or church. I realized it would be best to focus on what is right with my second-chance marriage. I chose to not adopt society’s way of focusing on what I see as being wrong, and telling others about my irritations, getting people to be on my side.

We are one flesh. There are no sides.

What I say reflects back on both of us. It points to my character as much as his character.

But although we are one flesh, we are still both individual people. One of the hardest lessons I have gleaned from is: I can’t take his failures personal. Not everything is about me. Sure, his decisions and actions affect me more than any other person besides him. Sure, I am in it with him, and when he makes bad decisions they affect me like they affect him. I am part of the fall-out. My feelings are entangled with his choices. And, no, he doesn’t often remember to think about that.

God gave him to me. To love me, to provide for me, to protect me.

Sometimes I forget: God also gave me to him.

God gave me to him to be his help mate. He may not want my help. He may not recognize what I am trying to do as being helpful.

But, God has given me a mission as his wife: help him.

How am I supposed to help him? The first thing is to let him be the individual God created him to be.

I have to disengage my feelings when he falls off the pedestal I tend to put him on. He is not immune from making sinful decisions. So, how can I help him look to God more? How can I help him be a man of prayer and response, rather than human reactions? How can I help him make decisions best for the whole family, that please God, rather than just decisions for himself?

I need to remind myself at times that God will work out the details for what He sees as faults.

How can I help him be his best for God? Without being manipulative. Without trying to be his Holy Spirit. Without putting my opinion and expectations in place as the standard I try to push on him. How can I just let him be him, treat him with respect and loving-kindness, regardless of what I see as being wrong?

How can I submit to his leadership, in a sense, without losing my own individuality in the process? How can I help him consider my needs and instincts, while balancing myself against things I recognize as not being God’s best for him, us, or our family?

My husband needs me. Whether he acknowledges it or even recognizes it, or not.

He needs me to be encouraging when he feels overwhelmed. He needs me to pray for him. He needs me to help carry his burdens, when possible, and let him handle them his way when I can’t.

He needs me to love and accept him, unconditionally. He needs me to not harden my heart when he doesn’t do things “perfect”, or even when what he does and says hurts me.

The hardest part of being his helpmate is focusing on my mission from God to respect him and be the helpmate God gave me to him to be. Through prayer, fasting, encouraging, silence, sharing Scripture, and being nonjudgmental when he does not do things the way I would.

Individually, we are one flesh. He does not have anyone else like me in his life.

God has given me an important mission on earth. To help one of His children in ways no other person can, with God’s help through my life.

We are 2 individuals that are also one-flesh. Even when my other half messes up, or strays from God. I still have my purpose given to me from the Divine. That does not get cancelled out. If anything, it becomes a more urgent focus.

My feelings and expectations are not the standard I live by. God’s standard is what I am striving to live by.

I can’t just give up and walk away, even if it ever felt like it was killing me.

Jesus didn’t give up and walk away when it was killing Him.

How Have You Grown?

I was inspired to write this by this blog:
http://thingstoadore.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/and-before-you-know-it/

There is nothing like becoming a mom and being responsible for the lives of our little ones who are so vulnerable and completely dependent on us, to make us both grow, and grow up.

I became a mom at 29. I had almost 3 decades to learn how to be selfish and think about “mememe”. My transition to momhood was ugly. My life before marrying a Godly man was all about my survival, my being independent and responsible, my working hard. I can count on one hand the number of people who sincerely had my back or even cared whether I survived. Transferring that mindset into taking care of a baby, especially after not being around babies much at all, I was a huge mess. I didn’t have family nearby to help me, and I didn’t have the benefit or experience from a healthy relationship with my own parents. I did have my Grandma to confide in, and I had an amazing husband that God provided for me, who supported me, believed in me, and continually shows me kindness I often feel undeserving of.

The first 2 weeks of my first baby’s life were the hardest and scariest of my entire life, and believe me, that is saying a lot. She lost a full pound after being born a month early, and I was trying to learn how to breastfeed her. Thankfully I had encouragement from people at church to not give up breastfeeding. I am so very glad I pushed through. She finally started gaining weight at 2 weeks, and we had some rough times, like clumsily trying to feed her in public and getting a yeast infection in my milk ducts. She is 13 now, and she’s one of the best accomplishments of my life, and a reminder of how much God changed my life when she was born. When she was born, the “mom” me was born. As a mom, she and I are both 13, and trust me, we both have some seriously real “adolescent” days.

Over the past almost 15 years of marriage, God has used His Word to instruct me to not be anxious for anything, to cast all of my cares on Him, and that no matter what, I can lean on Him and He will make all of my pathways clear. He has never failed, He has never given up on me, and I know there is nothing I can’t trust Him with. I have grown as a Believer.

I have grown as a wife. When we first married, I had all sorts of expectations of what I believed a Christian marriage would/should be. I was previously married to a nonbeliever. It was a disaster, and I know it was because of God’s protection over me, in my ignorance and desperation to just have someone who would love me, that I’m alive today. He delivered me from that marriage that I clung to when my ex decided one day he wanted a divorce, but I wouldn’t grant him one. Until I read Scripture, and I heard God in my spirit tell me it was ok to let him go. So, I joined my new husband 6 years later, with God’s permission to remarry, with hopes, plans and expectations. All of those either died out or were changed by God. I learned to relax when things feel out of control, spinning ahead of what I feel ready for, because God knows everything, and I can just lean back on Him, rest, and trust. Being married to a Christian has both defied and soared beyond my expectations.  We don’t pray together about everything, we don’t sing and play praise and worship songs together all the time, we don’t always have it all together with perfect smiles on our faces and lots of Christian friends who adore us, we don’t have popular Bible studies and prayer meetings in our home every week, and we have never gone on mission trips as a family like my heart still longs to do. Yeah, my picture guess was way off from our reality, lol. I’m not “Suzy Homemaker”. I’m a military spouse who has almost no control over any area of decisions or plans, the military takes care of all of that for both of us. I have learned to be content during some pretty intense times, but I’m still learning, and I fail at “content” pretty much every day in one way or another.

I have grown as a daughter. I have a new lens on my “hindsight” indicator. I no longer look through it as a daughter, but I look through it as one who has a daughter. There are things my mom did that I have made sure not to do. There are things I cringe every time I do or say. There are things I am careful to do, and I’m sure there are things I wish I had done, though I can’t think of any off-hand. I learned a lot from my Grandma that I didn’t learn from my own mom. There have also been times when anger or tears pop in because of things I missed out on or was robbed of in my own relationship with my parents. I have had much forgiving to do, needed much grace to apply, and tempered with love much disappointment and frustration. God has helped me to be a better mom to my children than I ever could have been without His compassion and help.

It’s amazing to me when I look back over all of the events of the past decade and a half, just how much “growing” God has accomplished in me while I was distracted by my life’s moments. I still have a lot of growing to do, but wow: God sure has been busy in me!

In what ways have you grown?

Irregular Frustration With Realistic Expectations

In the civilian, real world, when you go to the doctor and get told you need surgery, you schedule the date, make the necessary preparations, work things out with your boss and loved ones when you schedule the date, and you go get your surgery done.

In the military, under normal circumstances, you discuss things with your supervisor, fill out necessary paperwork to be sent up your chain of command to be either approved or disapproved, then schedule accordingly. So imagine our frustrated surprise that it’s after 4 p.m. the day before my husband‘s surgery has been scheduled, and his convalescent leave still has not been approved. His Chief is still talking with people, trying to get someone to step up and fill my husband’s shoes, so he can get what he needs done. His commander is risking losing my husband completely, because of the pain he’s in and the screws in one foot can break at any time. I see the pain he is in, and it makes me both very angry that his leadership cares so little about him, and it makes me cry.

So, I’m not a bit afraid to say: fireworks are about to go off. I am going to explode in a fit of frustrated concern on someone who can make a difference. At this point, weighing the consequences: repercussions because his leadership will have no question of who is stirring stuff up, versus my husband’s crippling pain: I think I honestly just don’t even care. Someone needs to be informed of what is happening here. This will be the third time his surgery is being put off, because of “Air Force needs”. Well, the Air Force NEEDS to fix my husband, or they are crippling their own mission.

Ok, now the Christian part of me is kicking in. I have prayed off and on, I have trusted God to help make the way for this to happen. My husband is humble and kind. He puts others before himself. He has put the Air Force before this need for years now, but now it’s their turn to make his well-being the priority. He has given and given, and he can’t keep being the only one to give.  His leadership obviously does not have anything of God in them, or they would be listening to the Holy Spirit on the issue. I trust that God is concerned for my husband, and He will provide for all of his needs.

I just wish the Air Force would live up to their end. Things have really gotten rotten in the past 4 years.

Update: As of about 6:45 p.m., our God has indeed come through for my husband!! So very thankful for the Chief God has put in place at this time. She fought all day to get his command to sign the convalescent leave form. He is getting the surgery.

Some battles are worth fighting for both in prayer and in action, we can’t give in and give up the fight, when the need is so great.

Who Controls Your Time?

This is painfully honest, but it’s “real”.

There are some days when I have a heightened sense of awareness concerning how very little control and input I have in my daily life’s circumstances. I am writing this as I sit in our one vehicle waiting for my husband to finish something he’s volunteered to do for our church. I have no issues with his having volunteered. What I am continually frustrated about are my lack choices in my own life. Some days it’s apparent that nothing about my life is about me.

As a Christian, I remind myself that that’s the way my life is supposed to go. Putting others before myself. This is the “season” I am in, and the lesson of learning to be content in all things, it’s a doozy some days.

As a military spouse and veteran, I remind myself that serving our country is an honor. Supporting my husband as he serves, is some days a more difficult sacrifice than my own military service was. He has people telling him what to do and where to be pretty much every minute of his work day. He’s scheduled for meetings without any communication with him about it, and he has no say, nor does he even get to take real vacation time. There is often little to no consideration or concern for how his work affects his home life, by his leadership. He wasn’t issued a family, so his family isn’t important to them. I do my best to keep things under control at home, but I have reached a near breaking point a few times since we moved to this assignment 1 year ago. Service before self, that’s what is expected, even from military families. When he gets orders just days before he’s sent away, I just have to go through the motions of having it all together. If I’m sick or stressed, it doesn’t matter, his duty comes before my life, in every way possible. That’s just the way it is. When he flies, I drop him off so I won’t be without the car if he gets stuck somewhere over night, or for several days. Everything revolves around his schedule, and truth be told: I don’t often feel much like running errands just because his work schedule makes our car available for me to actually go somewhere.
I cannot plan anything. When he comes home from work, he tries not to bring his frustration home too, and he plays with the kids when he can. Sometimes he lays down and falls asleep. Ok, lots of times he does that. I get the leftover exhaustion that’s a result of all the junk he deals with, or exhaustion from his flying 6-10 hours a day.

As a home educating mom, I remind myself that my kids educational needs are priority. They have to learn, we have to stick to a schedule to fit in the State mandated number of hours required, even though the school system certainly doesn’t follow that guideline very strictly. The school system gives kids 5 days off over Valentine’s Day and Presidents Day, alone. My kids can’t take that amount of time off without having to make up time over a weekend or extra long schooldays. Even though they will beg me to go play with their friends, they have to do schoolwork, because of those mandated hours I signed my name before a Notary Republic agreeing to enforce. Normally I enjoy the kids staying home to learn, but I honestly despise that box of “time” everyday that this state has inflicted on us. I have consistently been strict concerning their education from day 1 of their schooling, that mandate is unnecessary, and it’s too restricting.

I have no one to talk to that really understands where I’m coming from. There is nothing that is about “me”, at all right now. When people ask what I like to do, I’m at a loss. I don’t even know anymore. I try to write, but I’m only motivated by getting stuff off of my chest, encouraging others one-on-one, or politics. I play my violin for church sometimes, but that’s another part of my life that is scheduled for me, which isn’t a big deal in and of itself, but when I look at the whole picture, I just get overwhelmed by how lost I am in everyone’s scheduling that affects me but isn’t ever about me. I very much want to play my violin and bless others, just some days I feel crushed by “overwhelm”. Thankfully God never lets it really crush me, and He gives me the strength to get out from under it, and rise above it. I am no good at anything without God’s help.

Nothing about my life is my own right now. I sometimes stay up too late just to get peace and quiet time to myself, but that comes with a price, too. I cannot ever get away from responsibility, or everything being planned for me while not including me in the planning.

I just follow the schedule.

Worth the Effort

We have all seen those “funny” television shows with the background laughter letting us all know we should find whatever is being said or done funnier than anything we have ever seen or heard before. You know the shows, where someone thinks something else is happening, but ends up being completely, even embarrassingly, wrong? I always wonder what would happen if they would just talk. To each other. But, where is the “fun” in that, right?

My husband and I try to sincerely talk about as much as possible, to avoid miscommunications and tense situations. While on televisions those can be hilarious, in marriage for real, not so much.
He and I have been co-parenting our children for as long as 13 years. 12 years ago, communication was so easy, and tons of fun. We have developed our own family “language” over the years as a result of all the cute words the kids have made up in learning how to communicate with us. Now, it’s hard not to wish we had skipped that whole “teaching them to talk” stuff. The sarcasm, the back-talk, the arguing with each other… Many times the problems that rise up would have been headed off before they began, if they would communicate more with us and with each other. I hope I can get that point across to them, it will make their own lives so much easier.

Getting past miscommunicating is an art anymore, I think. Not many people seem to want to put the effort necessary into avoiding miscommunicating, or working past misunderstandings, anymore. They are too busy, and just don’t care how their lack of effort sometimes hurts other people.

I think people are worth the effort. I hope they think I am worth the effort, too.

Husbands and Wives

This is deeply on my heart after talking with someone who walked out on his wife and kids. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word.”
Ephesians 5:25-26

Do those words really hold any meaning for Christian marriages in today’s American society?

Is it husbands versus wives? I know it can feel that way at times, when we don’t see eye to eye, when tension is high, when the kids are fighting and the stress of just trying to make it through each day tears at the very heart of every issue we face.

This man complained to me that his wife hasn’t been handling things perfectly since he walked out and is now with another woman. He blames the one he left, but he doesn’t see how his leaving set her up for failing. He doesn’t see how his walking away has torn her in half, as they were one flesh. Husbands often don’t understand the emotional toll it takes on their other half when they are unfaithful, when they are not supportive, when they are critical or judgement, when they are not kind…. when they do not love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her….

Christ gave up His own life so the church could live. How can a husband possibly compare himself to Christ loving the church? I think he can by purposefully putting her needs, and even wants, before his own. I think he can demonstrate Christ to her by being understanding, patient, kind, and not placing expectations of what his opinion of who and what she should be, on her.

That is a huge challenge.

My husband has taught me more about Christ’s love for the church than anyone else ever has.

It is possible.

God hates divorce. So, let’s stop doing what He hates, and put on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 5:33 “Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband

If we tear down our husband, we damage the core of who he is. If we mock him, make fun of him, treat him angrily… we are not helping our marriage be healthy and strong, we are pushing him away, causing his flesh to rise up and his heart to harden against us. If we treat our husband with patience, kindness, gentleness, love, respect, graciousness, like he’s the most important person in our earthly world… our husband will be more likely to want to love us as Christ loved the church. He will be more likely to listen, treat us with respect and dignity, I mean, if he is a Christian and he lives as a Christian. Unbelieving spouses will respond more positively to positive, loving, respectful treatment, and might be won over to Jesus.

The heat of the moment is never what it seems, and it often brings out things that aren’t there normally.

If we strive to rise above the temptation of our flesh to embrace the negative, often ugliness that beckons at our tempers and tongues when our emotions are high, then the world will see that difference, that empowerment from on high, to love and respect one another. Even in the bad times.

Let’s do those greater things that Jesus said we would do, starting in our marriages.

The Power of Life and Death

When things are changing, like life constantly seems to do, and tense moments take over our reactions and thoughts, our tongue can be our worst enemy. The phrase from Scripture in Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit”, has been echoing through my thoughts all day.

It’s honestly a pretty rare thing for my husband and I to fight, I mean really fight. We snap on occasion, we argue, we disagree, but for the most part we don’t really fight. So, this past weekend while we are both going through so much in our own emotions about this whole stressful moving process, well, we got into an argument, and then a full on fight. And I realized: fighting with my best friend really just sucks.

I have been aware for sometime of the necessity to build others up because the world is constantly tearing us all down. And, sadly, it’s not just the “world”. It’s those closest to us who know our vulnerabilities, and in that heated moment of arguing, swoop down and sink their words into the jugular of our trust in them.  Seriously. Who doesn’t get into an argument and fight with every motivation of doing or saying everything possible to “win”?

It’s hard to rise above our tempers. It’s hard to forgive so things don’t build up.

Ephesians 4:26 says, “”In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry…” Anyone who knows me, knows that when there is a conflict, I try to talk things out both as soon as possible, and as thoroughly as possible. And, those who value me and any sort of relationship with me, they talk with me and pray with me. Because we cannot live at peace with someone when we are hurt or angry, and I sincerely do my very best to not ever let the sun go down on my anger, because then the sinning comes in the form of mean thoughts, hardness of heart towards the person things are unresolved with, all sorts of things. My mind and emotions become the Devil’s playground, and I don’t want the Devil anywhere near my thoughts or emotions.

I have lived and learned: no good comes from harboring anger or not acknowledging it. It leads to the death of relationships. It leads to the death of dreams. It leads to the death of being effective for Christ in our everyday lives.

There is no “winning” when there is death because of what we say and/or how we say it.

My daughter’s youth Pastor had her group do an activity where they hammered a nail through a piece of wood. Then he talked about how that wood was damaged. Sure the nail could be removed, but there would still be a hole. Then he told them that’s what our words can do. You can say something , and even apologize, but it still makes a “hole”. You cannot take back your words.

That’s definitely some “food for thought”.

 

Secrets of This Happily Married Military Wife

I am writing this as a self-edification, and reminder of what I have found to be positive in my own personal situation. These are the things that have worked for our family. If I didn’t find the positives, I would drown in the misery of all the negatives and uncertainty military life can cause.

It’s no secret that staying married to a military man takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears, some days. It’s WORK! The military lifestyle and environment does not make it an easy task. So, here are some things I have learned over the past 13 years of being married to my military man that have helped us. Maybe others can find encouragement in them as well. 🙂

1) Patience. His life is not his own, just like my life is not my own. He dedicates his life in service to his country, and I dedicate my life in service to him and our children. There isn’t room or time to put myself or anyone else ahead of my husband, children, and military needs. The sooner I gave in to this, the more easily I have found peace in my specific role, as well as my act of service to my family and our country. I have days where I need to smack myself in the head to remember it’s NOT about ME at all, and there is no room in our tiny, old government house for a pity potty.

2) Spoil him when he’s at home. He puts up with more micro-mismanaged, abusive, confused turmoil in one day than most American people ever experience in their lifetime. I spoil him rotten while he’s home with me so he has something kind and loving to look forward to come home to. Keeps him wanting to come home. 😉

3) Treat him like the hero he is, with respect, kindness, understanding and love. Our military husbands are not recognized for their tremendous sacrifices near enough!

4) Make every moment count. The reality is: Something can happen to take him away forever. That is always at the back of my thoughts and understanding. He is an amazing hero fighting against our country’s very real enemies. In light of that fact, being “right” just doesn’t have any significant importance. I never let myself be upset with him when he has to leave. I always let him know, no matter what, he is cherished and will be welcomed home with the openest of arms, and the warmest of love and adoration, as well as an unending supply of hugs and kisses from us all. 😀

5) Make him feel welcome, and help him feel comfortable and relaxed to get his thoughts off of work. He needs to have someplace where work isn’t constantly on his mind, and he can de-stress.

6) Give him time to re-adjust after a deployment or temporary assignment.

7) Listen. He may need to talk, he may just want to talk, so I stop doing whatever my distraction is, clear my thoughts, and give him my full, undivided attention. Granted some days the kids have taken off with my attention span and replaced it with exhaustion, but I give it my best effort, lol.

8 ) Take an interest in what he’s interested in. My husband has so many hobbies and things he’s really good at doing, so it can get kind of exhausting sometimes, but it’s always worth it, and it helps us stay close when he’s away to have those things in common to talk about or do together. It helps us stay involved in each other’s lives. I love being married to my military man.

When I married my husband, I took my vows seriously.
For better or for worse: the military sure can make things hard and worsen a situation at times, whether it's deployments, long work hours including not getting weekends off, or finance screwing up his pay, or many other things unique to the military lifestyle.
For richer or for poorer: Well, no one gets rich, monetary-wise from being in the military. Our government makes sure of that…but, I digress. But, experience wise, we are some of the wealthiest people in the US.