Sunday, August 2, 2015

Happy Birthday Andy!

Today is Andy's birthday. I want to take a moment to write about him, and what I'm learning about loving him in this new phase of life.

This week I've been encouraged to tend to my marriage. It started at Square One, where we talked a little bit about loving our husbands in the midst of adapting to life as a mom. One of the challenges we were issued was to look at our husbands when they're holding our babies, rather than just looking at the babies. The "seasoned" moms have been assuring us that we will fall in love all over again as we watch our husbands change diapers and make silly faces at our tiny ones. So I took up the challenge. I love looking at Story. I think she's the cutest (I know, I'm biased). But, looking at Andy with Story might just top Story when she's solo. I love watching her tiny body rise and fall in rhythm with his breath when she's asleep on his chest. I love his laugh when he thinks she's doing something funny. I love how he calls her "little girl" and "munchie." And I love how excited he was to receive this birthday present. I know he will faithfully read this to her every night when he puts her into her crib.

The next encouragement came from the Awaken Love seminar I attended at Grace yesterday morning. Our discussion at Square One got me motivated, but what I learned at Awaken Love really challenged me. I have a LOT more to learn about how to more completely receive the blessings God intends for me to find in marriage, and I'm going to take the Awaken Love class this fall to learn more. But one of the challenges from yesterday that I wanted to immediately implement was to spend time really trying to know Andy better. I shared some of the lessons I learned at the seminar with Andy over lunch yesterday and he was super supportive of my desire to dig deeper in our marriage. So last night, when we went out to dinner to celebrate his birthday, we didn't talk much about Story. We didn't look at our phones. We didn't talk about school or work or logistics. We asked each other questions, we talked about what we have learned about each other and about marriage. It was awesome.

Out for birthday dinner at Sway
It's really easy to get into the rhythm of life and neglect your marriage. Andy and I have a particularly "easy" marriage. We never fight (we like to joke that we got it all out of our system our first year, which was so hard) We enjoy many of the same things. We give each other a lot of freedom and we trust each other completely. But just because something is easy and seems to come naturally doesn't mean that we're fully enjoying it the way that God intends. That's what I'm really excited to be learning about marriage. I can see the way that our culture tends to push this idea that all of the excitement is found in the process of looking for life-long love. A couple of examples come to mind. I'm watching this super cheesy show on Netflix this summer that I don't even particularly like, but it's sort of wholesome and I like having background noise when I'm buzzing about the house with the baby. One day I realized that none of the main characters on the show are married. There are a lot of divorcees and some young single characters, and the premise of the show is about all of them looking for love. I wonder if the writers of TV shows nowadays avoid married characters because they think there wouldn't be anything exciting to write about? Then there are the magazines you see in the check-out aisle at the grocery store. I'm sure you haven't  missed that almost every single cover highlights a wedding, a baby or a divorce. Like these are the only interesting events life has to offer. As soon as everyone has swooned over a star's multi-million dollar nuptials, they're clamoring for details about who cheated who or who's getting what in the divorce settlement. That's popular culture stuff, but I'm not sure that the people inside the church are really doing a much better job. Most people realize that the divorce rate is the same within the church as it is outside of it.

And it's easy to understand why. It's pretty easy to slip into a rut in marriage. It's easy to believe the lie that it's boring. Or to just get so side-tracked by the other things that are going on in life. But I was reminded yesterday that the purpose behind marriage is to mirror Christ's relationship with His church. When I buy into the idea that marriage is boring, I'm also saying that Christ is boring in the way that He loves His people. How can He be boring when He is infinitely complex? Obvious answer is that He can't be. But if I'm honest, I get into a rut with Him, too. Sometimes it can feel boring with Jesus. But the reason for that is that I'm side-tracked in that relationship, too. I'm not responding to His pursuit of me. He's a Romantic, that Jesus. He has never stopped trying to chase me down and thrill me with His love and grace since I said "yes" to life with Him. But sometimes I'm too focused on my own agenda to receive any of it. Yesterday we were encouraged to pray this prayer, "Lord, help me to be interruptible." Because to receive the best love, you have to be willing to drop what you had going on and take in love when it makes itself available to you. Love doesn't fit onto the pages of my day planner.

But love isn't all spontaneity, either. It takes dedication to really know someone. To know Jesus, I need to read about Him in the Bible. And I need to talk to Him all the time. I need to believe that there is enough about Him to keep me engaged and interested in learning more. And to know Andy, I need to dedicate intentional time to learn about him, so that I can keep exploring the person I said "yes" to. I didn't marry Andy so that he could cheer on the side-lines of my life, but I think I make him feel that way sometimes. I married him because I wanted to explore life with him. Together, I wanted us to live a wonderful adventure. Now I'm realizing that he is my adventure, and there's much more to explore. I couldn't be more excited. :)

Andy, I love you so much. You are my greatest adventure. Happy Birthday!

Story and I both love to snuggle Andy. :) 

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