This week, I participated in Lysa Terkeurst’s Praying Boldly for Your Marriage challenge. One day, I was reading the email that she sent out, and my eyes were opened. But first, I have a little bit o’ back story. ;)
Many moons ago, I was a young married gal. Full of life, free, and loving the season I was in. I had setbacks in our first year of marriage, of course, but my outlook on life was still greatly influenced by the care free attitude of my teenage years (I married the month before I turned 21). I smiled, was often told I was a kind and cheerful person, and I felt it. Fast forward eight years, two kids, and several life changes later, and I am a different person.
With your twenties comes a lot of decision making. There are tons of transitions and this decade can feel a lot like being lost. A lot like being unsettled. This is a whole other blog post in itself, but with all of life’s turns and the changes our bodies and minds make over the years, I’ve suddenly found myself in a place where I don’t want to be. I am much less patient than I used to be. To the outside world, I may still appear kind [although with a cup of snark thrown in here and there], but to those closest to me, I am far from kind.
It hurts to write that because the deepest longings of my heart are to be kind, generous, and refreshing. A woman radiating Jesus. If nothing else in this world, I want to be known for that. But so often I find myself in the opposite place. Snappy. Greedy or full of worry. And draining. At least that is what I feel like after thinking about the day and all the things I could have done better.
I shouldn’t have yelled at the kids for running around the house.
I should be a better wife and not demand so much from my husband when he gets home from work.
I should be more patient and loving towards my family.
I should’ve…I wish I had…I can do that better…
And instead of turning where I should [uh, the Lord] for encouragement, I beat myself up further, swear I’ll try better the next day, and drift off to sleep…only to be woken by a whispering four year old who is standing inches from my face at 4:30am needing to be re-tucked into bed.
Oh, the joys.
So often I am running on so little steam, that I quite literally just react. Anger. Impatience. Frustration. It all comes pouring out of my mouth and heart and leaves me feeling like a terrible wife and mother. The wake of it like a thousand thirty foot waves beating against my heart telling me I am not enough. When will you EVER measure up, Erin? You say you’ll do better, but you wont. We both know you wont.
And I believed it. I believed those lies. So I just promised myself to strive harder the next day, all the while failing because I was relying on my own strength. When I saw Lysa’s challenge, honestly, I decided to do it not because I wanted to hear from the Lord, but because I thought, “Hey, this will be something to get me on the right track! Another thing I can do to make things better.” When I read one of Lysa’s emails, something she said jumped straight out of the page into my spirit and lit a little flame.
Is this an irritation or an issue?
There is a big difference between an irritation and an issue. Identifying the difference helps me pick my battles. If this is just an irritation, maybe I need to practice being more flexible, patient or willing to extend grace.
While this may seem like a no-brainer for you…this was monumental for me. You see, I saw everything as an issue. I reacted with fury and irritation at every little or big thing because it threatens my idea of what my family should look like. Instead of considering that, um, little kids can be annoying and that is normal, I took it as a behavioral issue and determined every little moment to be a “teaching moment.” Instead of knowing that my husband isn’t going to be 100% ON all the time when he got home from work, I took it as a sign that he didn’t care for me and didn’t want to be around me, so I lashed back.
What an exhausting way to live, eh?
So what am I trying today? I’m trying to live the day through that filter…I’m trying to pause and think about how my reaction is reflecting my belief that the situation is either an irritation or issue and modifying if needed. The Lord used Lysa to show me that if I identify something as an irritation, that is my moment to practice patience. Kindness. Generosity. All those things I want so desperately to be.
This challenge has been nothing short of a blessing and refreshing pull back of the curtain for me. It has reminded me that I am human, but has also given me a practical way to watch my tongue and learn to bless my family. Speaking of which, in that same email, Lysa also talked about praying about versus praying for:
Am I praying about or for my husband?
If I do sense something that needs to change, I need to pray for my husband—not about him. Praying about him is just ranting. Praying for him means digging into God’s Word and praying scriptures specific to his struggles. That’s powerful! When we pray the WORD of God, we pray the WILL of God.
I loved this too because after I identify what the situation is, if it truly is an issue, I need to turn to the Word of God first. Not just turn to God and gossip about my husband [or kids, or family, or whatever it is], but I need to pray boldly with God’s Word over that person’s life. That is love. Truly desiring the change for someone doesn’t mean beating them over the head with it. It means praying fervently for the Lord to take hold of their heart. I can also know that I need to do that for myself. Instead of simply praying for all my wants, I need to go to God’s Word, see what it says, and pray through that.
I’m incredibly grateful for eye opening moments like this. Can you relate?