Monday, October 09, 2006
A daily fight to be who I am
About five years ago, I went through an amazing Life Management program created by Dr. Phil. My husband also went through the program before I met him so it's nice to have some tools in our marriage we both can rely on. I know that I can say certain things when we have conflict that will remind him of our training and how we must use those tools we paid so much money to get! However, as time goes by, it's easy to forget. Life constantly throws curve balls our way and we have to remind ourselves of what we have fought to become. Both of us grew up in difficult situations beyond the word dysfunction. As we try to create a healthy atmosphere and environment for our home and for our children, we often have to fight. We have to fight against our past and figure out how to do this thing called "Family" the Godly way. Since we were not taught how to do this, it takes a lot of prayer and a lot of tools to show us the way. It's not easy and it never will be.

Really it doesn't matter whether or not you grew up in a healthy home or not. No one had the perfect mother or the perfect Father. No matter how hard we try, our kids will still grow up struggling with issues of their own. Some of it will be self taught and some of it will be junk that WE taught them. It's another example of why we need a Savior so bad in this life. As we figure out who we are in Christ, we learn that there are so many things in our lives that don't match up with His will for our lives. The way we handle situations, the way we handle conflict, the way we treat ourselves, the way we treat others. Everyone has their own luggage in life to carry. I have yet to meet someone that I think doesn't have problems. When we learn how to handle those problems or struggles/sin, we have to work at keeping them at bay. A drug addict or an alcoholic has to be extreme. He has to change his entire lifestyle by staying away from friends or staying away from every single thing that may trigger a relapse. Eventually the sobriety will be tested (I saw this happen with my dad) and the addict will be put in a situation where he/she is tempted to drink or do drugs again. This is when all of their rehabilitation comes in and has to fight. The alcoholic has to work the program and fight for the ground he has gained. If not, all that one has worked so hard for will be stolen in a heartbeat.

I remember sitting in the last session before graduating from Pathways and listening to my trainer instruct us for what was to come. "After graduating from Pathways, you will be tested. When you walk out those doors and you go back to your job, your marriage, your life, everything you have worked so hard for these past four months will be tested in every way imaginable. The people that are supposed to love you the most, your family, will come against you like never before when you work this training." Those words did not scare me, I was ready! I had worked hard to believe in myself and I knew that God had a purpose for my life and a purpose for my pain. Now I had tools, I knew how to set boundaries, I knew how to respond instead of react. But, I was a newlywed and the journey had only just begun.

When I got married I had something kind of deadly that I brought into the relationship. It was a picture. I must say it was a beautiful picture. A picture of me in the kitchen baking pies with all the ladies at Thanksgiving and Christmas. A picture of me shopping with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. A picture of family vacations, a picture of all of us taking family portraits together or having Sunday afternoon meals. But there was a huge problem with my picture, it wasn't real. My picture was all of my expectations and as we all know, expectations can bring about a lot of pain in life. We are often disappointed all because of expectations.

I have heard preachers and counselors and even Dr. Phil say many times that you can't go into marriage expecting it to make all of your dreams come true. You have to go into with a healthy picture of yourself first. Of course I thought I did and in many ways I was ready. But marriage does something that only marriage can do. It brings out everything! When you live with someone day in and day out, things come to the surface. That's where our luggage comes in! I remember when Jeremy and I moved all of our stuff into our first apartment. He had kind of a nautical them going on in all of the decorations he brought. It looked great and it was perfect for a bachelor but I was not about to live in an apartment decorated with boats and stuff. Much like the physical things we bring into a marriage, we also bring in much more. Some things I love about Jeremy but some I was not willing to budge on. And I am sure if he were writing anything in this entry today, he would have no problem saying that I was a little difficult to live with too. Eventually we learned one another's dance and the day in and day out of living wasn't bad. He knows I don't always put my shoes up and he no longer fusses at me when they are laying in the middle of our bedroom. But emotionally, personality wise, we are as different as night and day! And honestly, that is the biggest thing I love about our relationship. I am a people person and will talk to any stranger around. My husband is quiet, shy and would not feel comfortable going to a party without me. It's just not his thing. He has taught me how to relax, how to be quiet and to enjoy being at home. I have taught him how to have fun, laugh and act like a crazy person! He now listens to the radio in the car on full blast too, just like me! We are good together, that's a sure thing. But every once in a while, our relationship is tested. All married couples know, arguments are never over new things. There are never really NEW battles. Nope! Instead, it's the same old stuff. It's the same conflict that comes around over and over again. Until resolution has truly been found, the conflict keeps on coming. Our same old conflict? Family.

As I mentioned before, I had lots of expectations on marriage. If you have been a frequent reader of my blog, you know that I had some what of a difficult childhood. Okay, very difficult. A lot of my adult years have been spent grieving over that childhood. Marrying someone that had a Mom and a sister gave me hope. I really thought that all that I had ever wanted could be fulfilled by this new family and even through these women. Almost instantly after becoming engaged, I realized that those things I wanted so badly were not going to happen. At least they were not going to happen in my timing. What made it even more difficult was a relationship I had prior to meeting my husband. It was a dating relationship that lasted for almost three years. The guy I dated had a sister that I was very close to. Even after a breakup with her brother, we remained very close and I remained close with the entire family. In fact that relationship should not have lasted as long as it did but I was in love with the family and it met a huge need. When I married Jeremy, the Lord showed me pretty soon how much I was looking to others to make me happy. All the pain I had endured, I wanted to get rid of. So I constantly looked to others to fulfill that need and take all of the pain away. Every single time I did that, I was disappointed. The conflict was bad and things were said between me and my husband's family that I still have to pray that God will help me forget. This is an area that the enemy works double time on to keep me from experiencing peace in those relationships.

Once Jeremy and I were settled, Josiah came along about a year and a half later and I realized that the problem was not resolved. Now there was a grandchild in the mix and the conflict only got worse. Many nights when I rested my head on my pillow to sleep, I felt like I had made a mistake. I actually thought that there was no way God would purposely put me with a man that had family issues too. After all I had been through enough of that growing up, didn't he want to put me with a family that did not have problems?! Jeremy had faced divorce as a child too, so how on earth could we possibly have a marriage or raise a family when we both came from so much junk? I found myself angry at God. I felt like I had been cheated.
I had been through Pathways, shouldn't I be free of all this crap inside?! Christian counseling was a regular part of my life, why was I not getting this??

The Lord had so much He wanted to teach me. Thankfully my ears were tuned into him and He showed me that a perfect little family was not going to heal my pain. I had to find peace and contentment in MYSELF through the love of Christ. That's the program I had to work! That's the training I had to apply to my life and THAT is what I had to work very hard at remembering DAILY.

I have shared with you before that the title of my old blog, Far More Than Rubies, was totally Holy Spirit inspired. The Lord gave me that title because I have to CHOOSE to remember daily that I am worth far more than rubies. When things are not going my way, when all that I have worked so hard for is threatened, I have to remember I am worth far more than rubies. When feelings of rejection come, oh and they will! I have to remember that I was created for something beautiful! When all the ground I have gained is in jeopardy, I have to tell myself, "Amanda, you were created for something beautiful!"

This weekend, my ground was shaken. All that I had worked so hard for, all that I had put behind me and all that I began to love about myself was put under the fire. I had to choose. Do I listen to the old tapes of what I used to feel and believe about myself? Or is this when I stand firm and protect all that I have fought for? I chose to fight! I chose to protect and I chose to not be robbed of that woman I am working hard to become. I had to find the truth and I had to find it FAST! I actually found myself sitting in a spot, in the midst of conflict, telling myself the truth. "This moment does not define you. This is not who you are! Do not allow yourself to fall back. YOU ARE WORTH FAR MORE THAN RUBIES! YOU ARE SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL!" I experienced victory and that is something I am proud of.

When conflict comes from an outside source, my marriage is always tested. I want Jeremy to stand up for me, be the man and stand by his wife. Often I am disappointed with his way of resolve. That's when I take it out on him. I yell and scream, slam doors and go in my closet and cry. But once again, I had to fight. I had to remind myself that my husband was not created to supply all of my needs. He can't be perfect, he can't read my mind and he can't understand everything I feel. While I wish He would handle things differently, it's better for me to keep my mouth shut and pray for Him. And that's a victory for me, HUGE! And THAT is something I am proud of!

Far More Than Rubies and Something Beautiful was threatened this weekend. I could have been robbed, I could have given someone else total control over how I feel about AMANDA. But I chose to fight and keep the ground I am standing on. For I know it will be tested again, the conflict is not resolved. So I'm going to go to a Christian counselor this week and get some help. I need resolve. Christ is my counselor, my healer, my Savior and so much more and He will help me every step of the way. But I know He can also use the voice of a Christian counselor to help Jeremy and I BOTH find our way in the midst of things like this.

Lord Jesus, I am not the woman I used to be. I have a solid foundation to stand on, please help me to stand firm. Help me to not allow my ground to be shaken so easily. I know who I am, I know how far I have come. Please continue to remind me daily that I do not have to live in the land where I once lived! You have brought me to a new place and I want to live there with joy! I pray that you can use my story, my struggles to help other women facing the same thing. If I have to be the one to learn it on order to teach others, I am willing. But, I need your help EVERY STEP OF THE WAY! I love you Lord, thank you for being my FATHER.

  posted at 2:03 PM

At 12:14 PM, Blogger {Karla} said...

Any child of God's is priceless.

I don't know the details, (don't need to) but I am praying for you and for God's hand to touch you and fill you with peace.


At 12:15 PM, Blogger Munchkin Land said...

Oh Mandi! You will be in my thoughts and prayers! I applaud your decision in two things. One to stop in the midst of conflict and realize that you are "worth more than rubies" and two, to see a Christian counselor. I told Wendy (Showered with Grace) that I'd love to be able to share my family's story someday but I really need to have their permission first. Suffice it to say, my family would not be what it is today without the help of Christian counselors. It does NOT make you a weaker person to admit you need resolve or closure, quite the opposite. You have my admiration and I applaud you!!

At 12:36 PM, Blogger Dee said...

Amanda -

You are definitely "Worth more than rubies" and also "created for SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL" when from your heart - you can write this post - in the midst of whatever you are going through!

I love you and am praying!

At 1:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are in my prayers. I actually wrote your name on the white board on our fridge where we list the weeks intentions.

You are something beautiful and I have just adored reading your recent posts. I hope to add you to my blogroll this week - is that okay??

At 1:41 PM, Blogger Paula said...

Amanda, My dear dear friend. You know I am praying for you.

You are so encouraging and uplifting.

Thank you for allowing God to use you and share your love and wisdom.

I love you sister!!

At 4:53 PM, Blogger Wendy said...

Amanda, I am definitely praying for you and everyone involved. Relationships with family can be so complex.

Thanks for sharing your joys and struggles as you lean on Him.

At 7:30 PM, Blogger Christy said...

I will pray for you! Any time you try to be obedient and do what God has asked the devil will fight. Don't let him win! Something beautiful is coming out of you!

At 5:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. My in-laws are coming this weekend (they visit about once a year.) Every year I get myself so worked up for the "impending doom". Seems like something inevitably happens and I am so hurt and there's my husband not standing up for me, four our family, the way I would do it. Just his personality I guess---very non-confrontational. I'm learning to honor and respect my husband's way of dealing with his family when conflicts arise. Everyone I ever dated--their family just loved me--thought I was the best thing that happened to thier son. My in-laws though---there is just not the same sentiment I guess and it was rather disheartening when we first married. Ok, all that to say thanks for sharing all you are learning and a good reminder of how to handle things when my in-laws arrive this weekend.

At 5:43 AM, Blogger Amanda said...

Shalana, I would love for you to email me if you can.

At 5:45 AM, Blogger Kate said...

Oh I can so so relate to this! Amanda, I will lift you up this week in prayer. Seeking godly counsel is so admireable. (I know I've had my share!) I pray this week will be filled with validation from Christ in who you really are sweety! Hugs to you - :)

At 9:06 AM, Blogger Minnie said...

Oh, how I needed to read this, Amanda! I will be fervently praying for you and everyone involved with this. I am dealing with similar issues, only with my own family. I am so proud of you for standing firm and not allowing your flesh to lash out. I'm also very glad to hear you are seeking Christian Counsel to seek closure. I desperately need to do the same as well.


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Mommy, Mama, Mandi, Amanda, Babe and whatever else you want to call me! How do I have time to blog with three kids under the age of four? I'm up until midnight and usually later!

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