I recently had the privilege of writing an article that is featured in the March 2012 issue of P31 Woman magazine. Lysa TerKeurst is an New York Times bestselling author and speaker who helps everyday women live an adventure of faith. She is the founder and President of P31 Ministries and one of my personal favorite leaders in women’s ministry.
Outside Looking In
My article featured in P31 Woman Magazine, March 2012
Women can be an unsatisfied lot. We tend to see our environment as a never-ending work in progress. The house isn’t clean enough, the kids aren’t “getting it”, our bodies aren’t thin enough, and the worst part is our husbands aren’t doing a thing about it. What a disappointment considering they were put here to satisfy our every need! Right?
Of course not, but sometimes we accumulate little disappointments until we convince ourselves that our men owe us. If we allow this thinking to fester, it can taint every corner of our lives. Resentment becomes our default position. Our clenched jaw makes laughter and kissing nearly impossible. Intimacy suffers. Even time spent with friends is polluted by our attitude of injustice.
It takes effort to be cranky and unsatisfied with daily living. We readily sidestep life’s simple joys, and cling to bitterness, to-do lists, and selfish indignation. The tragedy is that we slowly lose sight of our marriages in the fog of our discontent. The goal is to stay connected to the girl inside us who flirts, plays and laughs with her husband, even though she’s sometimes buried under the tedium of life. Having the unique privilege of being happily married twice has taught me to remain connected to that carefree girl in me. I’ve discovered that she is a vital source of health in my marriage.
After thirteen years and the blessing of two sons, my first husband, Matt, died of cancer on Christmas Day, 2005. In the months leading up to his death we set aside the minutia that bogged us down in our marriage. It was remarkably easy to let go of my childish frustrations and brush off the chip I wore like a badge on my shoulder.
The process of losing my husband has taught me what it means to “shift”. When Matt died, the entire axis of my life shifted, forcing me to examine my faith, relationships and my own identity. The opportunity to look back through the rearview mirror of my life and see things I simply hadn’t noticed was profoundly humbling.
After I married my second husband, Michael, who was also a widower with three children, I saw the remarkable similarities between my two husbands and it became painfully obvious how much time I wasted being frustrated with Matt over things that I was never going to change about him.
Having two wonderful husbands has taught me a valuable lesson about men. They are not like us and never will be… praise God for that! This simple realization gave me freedom to stop beating my head against the brick wall I’d so carefully built. Instead, I started removing those bricks to give myself a new perspective.
It’s liberating to tear down the walls of resentment, anger, and whatever frustrations I’ve piled high, instead choosing to build up my husband. We’re all peculiar and needy. For every man-quirk that drives us crazy, women have at least one to match! Represent yourself and your marriage well (even on girl’s night out). Tear down your walls instead of your husband. After all, what you see in him is often a direct reflection of you.
I will admit that, even now, despite all I’ve lost, my perspective still slips and my inclination to become a frustrated wife and mother lurks in the shadows. After a long day in my Brady Bunch life, I’ll step out on the back patio to meet up with the source that guides me toward all forgiveness and gratitude, and helps me make the necessary shifts to keep moving forward through some of the most tedious, stressful and frustrating moments in my day. By staying connected to the Father, I find myself again and again.
On more than one occasion, my patio escape has given me a literal shift in perspective, a wide-angle view of my life from the outside of my home. Looking through windows that frame moving pictures of life happening, I’m keenly aware that these imperfect, ever-changing days will eventually become faded snapshots. I hope that when my husband and kids look back they will not see the burdens of life on me. I pray they will see me smiling in every shot, surrounded by the grace of a thousand sacrifices.