Sunday, September 27, 2009

Catch 'em And Put 'em Back

Over the last week I have done a lot of self reflection of how tired I let myself get and what it has done to me as a husband and my emotions. Have you ever experienced a situation when you are frustrated with your significant other and fighting and some words come out of your mouth that you feel like you are listening to at the same time of speaking them. You hear what's coming and you are left trying to grab the words and stuff them back in your mouth.

Yea...I have had that happen too many times these past two weeks. I have said a lot of really stupid things this week...really dumb. I will refrain from printing them here just for the sake of keeping things PG and not offending anyone else. (Yes, Pastor's can say stupid, hurtful things too sometimes when they let their tempers get the best of them).

One stupid thing wasn't even with my wife. We have been dealing with a car dealership who has been making some mistakes and been really bad with communication. We just bought a used car from them and they were not following through very well at all with getting our plates and registration. It got to the point where my transfer plates expired so I drove down (45 min away) to figure out what was going on since no one would return my calls.

When I got there they told me I had to get an emissions test done (CT guidelines) before they could get my plates and then acted shocked that no one told me that. I asked, really more told, them to issue me new transfer plates, I would get the emissions test and then would fax it to them. They told me that was illegal and the best they could do was give me a rental car, after I drove back to CT (the dealership was in NY) to get the emissions and came back. I was a little pissed...

I then proceeded to tell the manager that I wasn't filling the tank up on the rental when I returned it and that they were going to pay for gas. The manager started to respond and said, "I don't th..." and then I blasted the man in front of everyone. "You don't think it'll be possible!!! Are you frickin' kidding me!! It's not my fault your sales guys are idiots and can't make phone calls." (That's not exactly what I said but it was pretty close.) Needless to say, I was pretty embarrased when the manager and the sales guy calmed me down trying to tell me they weren't saying no and was trying to tell me, "I don't think that will be a problem." It helps to let people finish thier sentances...

Because of where I've been lately, I decided I am going to see a counselor this week. I am realizing I have got some stuff that hasn't been properly dealt with. I am overwhelmed and tired but worse I am living in the past and allowing it to display itself through some anger. It all makes me think about Jesus' words to the Pharisees that it's not what goes into a man that makes him unclean but it's what comes out. (Matthew 15:11, 18)

I'm not embarrassed about seeing a counselor (one of us will write more on that sometime) but I am embarrassed that I let this stuff sneak up on me. I tend to be really bad at realizing what's going on in my head and heart before it is spilling out of my mouth...which is why I want to try and get some help and guidance to figure it out and change what's going on inside, which will fix what is happening outside.

We all need to pay attention to Jesus' words and take time to reflect on what we let come out of us. Maybe it's not always words but some sort of action...or inaction. But what comes out of us reflects something that is going on inside. To let that go will leave us facing more problems down the road and thus harder to fix whatever is going on.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My thoughts the past couple of weeks

My mind has been all over the place the last couple of weeks. I feel like Jake and I have just been getting slammed...with enough business, heath problems, and just life drive us nuts. I feel like all I hear is more bad news from friends getting sick, struggling, work problems and so forth. So to all the people struggling right now...I send out my prayers that your situations will get better and that God will comfort you.

In the midst of struggle I keep feeling like this one particular topic just keeps coming up. It's the topic of how we as women (yes Melissa is writing and Jake is not having an identity crisis)...we woman have all these needs, desires, expectations, and longings. You all know what I'm talking about. You read Twilight too, you secretly love Taylor Swift, and sneak in chick flicks while your husband or boyfriend is away. I'll tell you the end of the Twilight movie I was thinking, "I wish a vampire would look at ME that way!"

We want to be adored. We want to be cherished. We want to be desired. We want to be taken care of (not just money..I'm not getting all 50's, but there are emotional things to be taken care of as well). We want a strong man. We want to feel loved. We want to feel like we are enough. There is a passage in a book, I can't remember the name, but it says, "I feel like I am always too much, and never enough, all at the same time." We DON'T want to feel that way. We want to feel like we are always enough, just right. That we are the perfect fit. That once we find the right man, our cares and worries and problems will disappear. Once we're married we hope to never feel lonely, never feel rejected, or the last on the list of priorities.

Here's the rub. It's not possible. The movies lie. The romance novels lie...and God bless her teenage beautiful innocent heart..Taylor Swift lies. There really isn't a happy ending...because no matter who we marry...they will hurt us, disappoint us, mistreat us, not take care of us, make the wrong decision, and decide they're too tired for sex tonight. I don't care who you are...some of that will happen to you at some point or another in your marriage or relationship.

So do we become bitter? Angry? Disillusioned? "To be accepted and loved just as we are - isn't that what we all long for? To be welcomed into anther's life without pretense or falsehoods- isn't that what we really want?"- Neue

The answer is Jesus Christ...God...The Holy Spirit...

God is the perfect man...He ADORES us....He cherishes every part of our tender little hearts...he loves every good thing about you and every bad thing about you. When man fails...then Christ steps will never feel lonely with him..he never leaves. He will take care of you better than any husband, better than any father...He is the ultimate father and husband. He won't ever reject us, we are always desirable to him. He always wants us....think about that. He always wants to be with you, spend time with you, love you, hear your thoughts, hear your feelings, help you, protect you, he longs for you. He is what a woman's heart was designed for. He can fill it up.

I am learning this. Because my husband is not God. He makes lots of mistakes that hurt me and leave my woman's heart longing for more. Another person would have been no different. All husbands fail because they are human...and maybe we women put too many expectations on them....maybe we read too many romance novels and have too many lofty ideas about what love should be. Maybe I should train my eyes on Jesus' heart and his love for me and then learn to have realistic expectations from my husband.

Just my thoughts.....

Monday, September 7, 2009

There Should Be Some Form of AA for People Like Me

Melis and I just got back from vacation and boy, did we need it. As I have referenced in previous blogs, this summer has been exceptionally busy for us this year and we have really seen the affects of our (really my) busy schedule in our relationship.

We've seen it in our lives before we moved down to CT from MA and I had vowed never to go there again. But old habits are hard to break. See, I have a confession to make, I am a workaholic.

A few years ago I was working for a church North of Boston and it was a part-time paid job. I word it like that because in a church, working for part-time pay is actually insanely hard to actually work part-time hours. There is always more to do and always more kids to talk to. Unless the church and the pastor really work hard together to set boundaries, you can almost expect burnout after a few years. And that's exactly what happened to me.

I loved the kids in the area that I had the privilege of working with and was so enthusiastic about my work. The church, at the same time, loved having youth work happen so neither myself or the church set boundaries and I worked 40+ hours a week there. But, because it was part-time pay, I had to work a second job to pay the bills and on top of that I had started my own non-profit which was supposed to allow me to be paid for full-time work with teens. The problem was that I had to put the work in to build the organization so I could be paid. The result was that I ended up working about 80+ hours a week and was completely burnt out physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally. Thus my relationship with Melissa was almost non-existent. I had absolutely nothing to give when I got home...nothing!

I took me a year to realize we were heading down a wrong path (Melis realized it about a week after we were married...but I'm a little more stubborn) and so we sent out some resumes and after another year of interviewing and looking, I got a full-time paid pastor position which has been so great for us. It literally took us the whole first year in CT to recover from what I had put my body and our marriage through.

A friend of mine just asked me yesterday what the best year of our marriage has been and out of the four we've had, I said it was that third year. It took work to recover but the pace of life was slower, we had time together, I was mentally present in our marriage and overall it was a pretty good year. As mentioned above, I vowed to never go back to that pace of life...but sometimes it's hard to change.

Sometime around February last year, God began to do some really cool stuff in the Youth Ministry at our church and brought us a bunch of new, really awesome kids. Around that same time, my Student Leaders and I began working on a 24-7 week of prayer. Then I was prepping for our two Mission Trips this summer. (See the blog Serving Everyone But... for more details on my summer.) Before I knew it, it was August, I was exhausted, Melis felt neglected and I had done it again. Over the last month, we've been working to get reconnected again and during vacation it really played itself out.

For the first half of our trip to Hawaii we had a hard time connecting. We fought and miss-communicated over and over again and really had to talk through some underlying feelings and hurts because of the last 5-6 months. Once we were able to work through things, it got a lot better and hopefully will continue to get better now that we are home.

I think it's interesting though to compare this vacation to last years when we went to the Dominican Republic. The year had been more balanced and our relationship had been a high priority for both of us and we had a great vacation, the entire time. We were relaxed right from the get go and had one of the most relaxing vacations ever and some great conversations. (One of them was actually what birthed this blog/book idea).

So I think out of our vacation this year, as well as our previous experiences, I have learned two very important things in the context of our marriage:

1) I really need to continue to learn to watch my schedule and how full it gets. A professor of mine always used to say, "The world only needs one Savior; and it's already got Him. It's not you!" I really need to keep my marriage my top priority (after my relationship with God) and really pay attention to Melissa when she says, "We're doing too much." Typically, I whine and complain when she says this, but history has proven that she is much smarter in this area than I am.

2) We really need some breaks in the middle of the year between our summer vacations. This year we didn't really take a break in between the DR and Hawaii and we think it was one of the reasons I let myself go. I basically broke into a sprint and didn't stop. This year we want to make a priority to add a rest stop along the way through our busy school year. Whether it's a couple of long weekends away or a whole week, we really need something just for the two of us between December and February.

Maybe some of you can take our mistakes this year and learn from them. It really does help the rest of your life balance out if your first priority is God...then your marriage.

Our goal of this blog is to share stories (both good and bad), thoughts and insights about our marriage and we would love for you to jump into the conversation.

The goal is to provide three things:
1) HOPE for struggling couples that they are not alone.
2) GROWTH in our marriages and our understanding of marriage.
3) ENCOURAGEMENT to keep loving your spouse unconditionally.