"The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven." John Milton
A few years ago I was driving my car home from a trip to the grocery store when I began imagining a potential conversation with my husband, Jaime, in my head. This imagined discussion started with my desire for us to purchase some furniture and go on a summer vacation, both things I really wanted and was planning to discuss with him. "Planning" being the operative word. Hence, the preparation via imagination taking place in my car on the way home from Kroger.
My hubby does not enjoy spending a lot of money at one time, he positively loathes it. He is an amazing saver, our rainy day fund is on point and he is an excellent provider. HOWEVER - you know... I want some stuff. All that being said, I thought I knew well the pattern of how these type of conversations between us proceed. I played out this pattern in my mind thoroughly for about ten minutes, and was therefore convinced the discussion about to unfold was not going to have a positive direction. By the time I pulled my car into our garage I was already mad at Jaime before a word even passed his lips - and he had no idea.
I walked into the house ready to do battle - my mind had the argument and I already assigned blame to my husband for caring little for my thoughts or feelings. Didn't he know there was more to life than money? What good is money if we can't live a little, if we can't experience some joy on vaca? I mean, is he the only one who gets to make these decisions, how is that fair? Seriously - such a dream crusher.
Jaime walked into the kitchen as I was putting away food from my run to the store. He's all smiles, and "how was your day?" What was with the cheerfulness, didn't he know we were about to have a fight? I was not going to let him distract me with his good attitude.
After telling him "my day was fine, thank you very much". I proceed to inform Jaime of my thoughts on some hopefully upcoming very important purchases - "I've been thinking about vacation and I think it would be great if we go here... and then also I'd like to purchase some furniture and what do you think about....?" I'm giving an abbreviated version of course, but those are the high points. I'm all prepared for his negative response and I have my come back ready. My husband looks at me and says, "That all sounds great. Let's see if we can work at doing that."
Huh? But ... I'm mad.
That was not the response I was expecting from him. Now my balloon is deflated. I've been preparing for battle, for a kind of undercover assignment where I need to make sure I'm heard and listened to. But now I'm weirdly disappointed - where is the argument I was expecting? But the bigger question - Why wasn't I just happy that my husband listened to me, heard me and expressed agreement in working towards something I desired? Was I actually feeling let down, like I didn't like the fact we were on the same page? That is just... well, I don't know what that is. But I made a mountain out of a mole hill for sure.
In the end, what I learned through some rather real and emotional prayers to God, convos with amazing friends and my patient husband, is that I was interacting with PAST hurts between myself and Jaime. Things I had not resolved in my own heart and mind. There was no perfectly tied bow wrapped around past arguments and painfully spoken words - so I was struggling with how to move forward during times when my heart still hurt. My husband was working hard, I was working hard. Why then did I sometimes feel like I was back in time and nothing changed?
It is difficult to navigate and celebrate the present when stuck in the emotional wasteland of the past. In his book, The Lies We Believe, Dr. Chris Thurman talks about how all of us can trace many of our emotional, mental, spiritual and relationship struggles to the lies we believe. We all have a mental storage unit in our head, like an MP3 player, that both records and plays back our personal library of "beliefs, attitudes, and expectations that you have 'recorded' during your life."
Some of those recordings are truthful and they say things like, "You can't please everyone," or "choices have consequences." According to Dr. Thurman there are also plenty of lies we play back without even realizing they are background music in our brain. Lies such as, "Things have to go my way for me to be happy," or "If I just avoid this problem it will go away." The things we believe about ourselves and others are built from our experience and previous history, providing expectations for how we think things will go - or how we believe things should go.
The recording playing in my head about myself and Jaime in the conversation above was "we are the way we are, we can't and won't change the hard parts of us." So wrong. We can absolutely change, every single one of us. It's often slow change, but it IS change. We have the God-given capacity for action, decision making and soul-searching, plus we have a Savior who loves us and moves in our lives. Thank goodness we are not at the mercy of our past or our own expectations of the future.
Forgiveness and grace are part of a Christian's existence - both must permeate our very souls. I feel like I know myself pretty well, but still things about myself catch me by surprise. Things I thought I conquered and mastered rear their ugly head when I least expect. It is hard to give myself grace when I internally beat myself up for sin God forgives, the very things for which Jesus died. Reminding myself of Jesus ultimate grace and forgiveness when I fight my internal battles, helps me have more grace for myself and also for those I love. Plus it allows me to sleep at night, mostly.
As women, we multi-task, we take care of people. We often love totally and give freely. Sometimes that "all-in" part of us requires something of people and they don't always measure up. We don't always measure up against the tests we set for ourselves either. Choosing grace and forgiveness is a daily battle - some days are easier than others. But we can do hard things, because God strengthens those who are weak and weary (Isaiah 40:29, Philippians 4:10-13) .
I'm going to mess up - a lot. People I love will mess up - a lot. But, Jesus demonstrates how to live in this place where both the richness of the gospel and the sin of humans exist together. Thank you, Lord.
Over time I've been able to recognize some of the lies in my head. It does get better with practice, as do most things. But there are still days my humanness rushes forward and my old fears, anxieties and expectations make a muck of things. I'm grateful for God's gift of the Holy Spirit so my soul does not walk alone. I need all the help I can get.
I hope you know you are not alone. When lies play in your head and you forget to take a moment to breathe, I pray you know when the dust settles you have a Lord and Savior who loves you. You are redeemed, a valuable and precious woman created in the very image of your Creator. He loves you. Always.
Our podcast today is on The Vibe of Our Home - does grace live within the walls of your house? What do we bring with us from our childhood, relationships and past? What are lies we need to shed? We share some personal stories of growing up, as well as ongoing struggles many women face. We hope you are encouraged by our conversation.
"Nothing is so easy as to deceive one's self; for what we wish we readily believe." Demosthenes
"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into his grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been give to us." Romans 5:1-5
"For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person - though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die - but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:6-8