I am so thankful for the kind responses and text messages and phone calls about the writing yesterday. I know I said y'all were just regular people, but seriously, you guys are the BEST! I hope that you weren't mortified, but empowered to share your own struggles with someone safe as well. (Probably not the whole dang internet!) :-)
I realize that my writing could have been troubling to some of you. I would have never written that, nor shared it had Mike and I not learned a TON from the early years of our marriage. I have learned that while it is brutal to go through struggling seasons of life, in the end, they shape us into who we are. When you struggle, you are forced to GROW BITTER or BETTER. You LEARN or you LEAVE. You find Joy again or your stay depressed.
For me(and Mike), I used the struggle as a chance to grow. We have read a ton of marriage books, (which I'd be happy to share) we've taken marriage classes, I listen to family/marriage podcast every day. (I should share those too!) Mike and I are always changing and learning and growing to give ourselves the BEST possible marriage and our kids the BEST possible childhood! (Although we all come up short in both categories daily! Thank God for his Grace and forgiveness!) I talk very openly about all of the struggles that we had in the beginning because I KNOW that there are other people in those same shoes today. In most cases, I URGE you to NOT GIVE UP! Families are SO important. If you let God change your heart, He can use all of your life, even the yucky parts to make you a much more Joyful, grateful human being. It's when you stay hidden under the mess that you fail. When you are too proud to ask for help, even if the HELP gives bad advice! It's when you believe that everyone else's life looks perfect from your view on Facebook and start to think that you must have gotten the short end of the stick on life. Real life is so much more than that. It's full of peaks and valleys that are meant to grow us.
If I missed the boat on explaining this, I'll give it another go. I came into this marriage madly in love with Mike. I knew I'd hit the lottery with him. You couldn't find a kinder, more loving, patient, generous, peaceful, gentle, humble guy if you tried. I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing he was just a rare bird born that darn good of a person. (I know. I wish I were more like him too!) He's had his fair share of trials in life that have also helped mold him into the incredible person that he is today.
When we married, I sure loved all those things about him, but he did things that drove me crazy too! Like leaving a trail of a mess whenever he went. I somehow thought I could have this super laid back, easy going guy that would be as neat and tidy as me. I'm sorry, but I don't think you can have it BOTH ways. Most people I know are either very neat and tidy and orderly, but have a more uptight personality.(That's me) OR, they are laid back and easy going and can totally function in a mess and chaos.(That's Mike) I thought somehow Mike should be the best of both of the worlds, and he wasn't. His car. His closet, a mess. It drove me wild, among a few other things that I can dig into later. Now I just clean up after him when I need to, and thank GOD that I have him to clean up after! He's also become SO good at helping me have order in our house. We've figured out how to meet in the middle so that we can both be happy.
I was sure that I was wiser (RIGHT) and that he needed to see things MY way. He'd say he felt the same way. He felt like he was right too! While we were crazy in love with each other, which is why we never separated, we were totally not equipped to handle our differences. We let them drive us apart instead of embracing them and realizing that being different is really a HUGE gift, especially when you are raising kids. (I'll write more about that soon.)
All of these years later, we are in a really good place. I treat him with all of the RESPECT in the world and he LOVES me like no one else I know loves their wife and kids. We have learned so much and this blog is a space that is meant to celebrate that. To share it. To encourage others who are struggling with life. I pray every single time that I write that you would leave inspired to LOVE your spouse better. To LOVE you kids better. To LOVE your mom and dad like crazy if you still have that amazing privilege of time to do so. To LOVE your friends and neighbors better. To Love the people who are checking you out at War-Mart or serving you in a restaurant better. My mission is to spread LOVE! You will never ever ever regret for a second loving people wildly regardless of your differences.
But we aren't born to do that. It has to be taught. Even when it has been modeled for you time and time again, for years on end, it's easy to get too caught up in your own pride and being right, and forget that we are called to Love. We are born ridiculouly selfish and self-centered. We tend to want to be served and loved, not serving and loving. We feel entitled to our own way and sometimes we choose being right over being kind.
I said this somewhere in the comments yesterday, it's scary to air out your old dirty laundry online. I'm sure if you aren't used to that kind of openness and honesty, it could be shocking. But I know for a fact that words and wisdom have power. They seep into your heart and change your thinking and therefore create the most beautiful change in your heart and in your home. Life can be more peaceful. You really can have "Joy in the Chaos."