Growing (closer) together

For as long as I can remember, my heart’s desire for my future marriage was to find someone who (after loving Jesus and dancing) would approach life as an Adventure – someone who stepped out in faith with courage and boldness, holding my hand tightly as together, we faced the Unknown, secure in our trust that God provides.  Its how I’ve always lived my life and knew I needed someone who would adventure alongside me…

What I didn’t realise when Holy Spirit drew G and I together was that is exactly what He had in store for me – a man who looked to God first, and who was willing to step out in faith when called to do so. And what’s more: God gave me an Encourager. G has this effortless ability to speak encouragement into any and every situation. Most of the time he doesn’t even realise how incredible his gift is – it comes to him so naturally. I stand amazed on an almost daily occurrence.

We’ve both started new businesses in the past couple of weeks, so we are very much stepping out of our little comfort zones and trusting God to lead us along these paths. [Quick shameless plug: please go LIKE G’s FB page – Selah and check out his online ordering system while you’re there… and yeah, happy stalking??]  On Saturday, I had to do an engagement shoot for a couple and on a whim, I invited G to come along… it was amazing having him with me, helping me climb rocks, holding me in place while I leaned over ledges to get ‘that shot’ – supporting me not only physically, but emotionally too. And I think for the first time I appreciated the extent of what (who) God has blessed me with: when joining our hearts together, Holy Spirit also joined our paths – our personal Adventures – to include one another. Although our businesses are very much our own things to grow and build, the other is always included and shares both the highs and the lows. We do happy dances for each step of faith the other takes (there was whooping when G began his FB page and there is oohing and aahing for every baby romper I sew).  But what’s more: when the one is lagging in faith or has a confidence wobble, the other is there to speak Life and Encouragement – to believe enough for both. We’re in it together. And its drawing us closer together every day; we’re learning not just how compatible we are, but how we have been created to complement eachother and bring out the best in one another – I guess we’re becoming a team.

I honestly do not know how my business is going to grow or what’s around the corner for either of us, but I am fully convinced that this relationship is from God and will be used not only for His purposes, but to His glory.  And I know that He will provide for both of us, every step of the way.  And every step we both take towards God, draws us closer to one another. Together, we have been called to a Life of Faith-filled Adventure and yes, I will admit there are moments when I feel completely overwhelmed at everything that seems to stand against our chances of success… but those moments fade in comparison to the awe I stand in when reminded of God’s greatness and faithfulness.  If he can create and co-ordinate our Love Story right in front of us (without us even noticing), I know He will continue to write it with as much Joy.

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Facing the Past

This is probably not the easiest post to write – and one I kinda hope G doesn’t read because I know it will probably upset him a little… but its something we have had to face as a couple and I felt it needs to be shared.

From the start, both G and I were upfront with eachother about our pasts – the path we’ve walked, the mistakes we’ve made… his openness initially helped me to be equally as vulnerable and the shared transparency in turn built an almost immediate Trust. This blog in itself has also opened us up for several conversations… so at this point, there is little we don’t know about the other in terms of ‘mistakes’ and previous relationships.

I’ve been asked several times whether G is as squeaky clean as I profess to be – and without airing his dirty laundry, the simple answer is no. Make your own assumptions with that… last night after church we were once again talking about our pasts and G shared details from his previous relationships. I am not going to lie: it was tough listening to him speak about girls who he had had such strong feelings for… the selfish part of me was… well, jealous for want of a better word. Suddenly I was faced with the reality that although he is pretty much the only man I have ever really loved (the few infatuations and temporary crushes seem so insignificant in comparison), I am not the only woman to have had his heart.  And that’s a really tough thought to face. A vague concept of ‘past relationships’ is very different to hearing how much someone was loved or the future he had considered with them… and yet, the other less selfish part of my heart was left astonished that these girls didn’t recognise the absolute gem of a man they had had – that they had rejected him so easily and consequently missed out on what could have been theirs for the taking. And then the fierce protective part of me rises up, getting indignant at the hurt that he went through and the scars that I’ve been left to love. Despite all of it, I’m the lucky one. I’ve been able to know and love the man made stronger from his past hurts; I’ve been given the privilege to walk beside him as he steps out in faith (not only in learning to lead our relationship, but in starting his new business too) and I know I get to share not only his present, but his future too.

And yet. Isn’t that the very picture of Grace? That no matter how messed up our pasts, Jesus somehow takes all that hurt and bad choices and loves us beyond that – that despite the past, we find redemption in His death and resurrection. And then its Done; the past is behind us and we move forward into the Hope and Future that we find in Him… much like G and I: our pasts are behind us and right now we celebrate the Present Moment together (3 months today whoop whoop), looking towards  the Adventure that Jesus is leading us on, together.

Speak about it…

So I have been a little quiet lately… don’t worry, nothing has happened without you all hearing about it – I’ve just been kept busy with end of term exam craziness and some good ol’ Time Out courtesy of school vacations (one of the few perks of being a teacher!). G and I are doing just fine… 😉

In the midst of us ‘finding our stride’ and just kinda settling as a couple, I’ve realised how different life as part of an ‘Us’ is, in comparison to just being ‘Me’.  Nobody prepares you for this kind of change?? I have honestly been humbled at realizing how selfish I have been – not in a bad, self-centred way, but just… well, I’ve never really had to take someone else’s needs or opinion into account before: I could do as I pleased and go wherever I wanted without having to explain myself. Now, there’s this other person who doesn’t necessarily ‘expect’ it, but definitely appreciates getting those little explanations – I have someone who actually cares about the way I spend my time. Apparently it all comes down to a very simple concept: Communication.

And apparently I am really bad at it.

Obviously I will never use this blog to expose G’s faults or use it as a platform to air our petty issues (no, we’ll just go straight to the heavy personal stuff??), so please forgive me for sometimes being a little vague on details… but anyway. We were facing an issue a few days back and it was really playing with my head – no matter what I did or how I tried reasoning my thoughts, I couldn’t rationalise it away and began fretting about it. I knew it was something that needed to be faced, but something (a little like fear) kept me trying to push it away and pretend it wasn’t a problem.  Denial is nobody’s friend.

I spent the whole of Monday in silence. G has the morning off work and with me being on holiday, we were together – and it was a tough morning. I process problems inwardly, meaning I need to wrestle with my thoughts, allow them to simmer, climb into my metaphorical Nothing Box and have plenty of Time Out until I have either exhausted myself mentally or worked through all the possible outcomes, dealt with my insecurities and have ‘overcome’ enough to move on… this strategy has always worked wonders for me. When I was single and able to sit on the couch alone, without someone looking anxiously at me from the other side… Praise the Lord for giving me the most patient man on the planet!  I don’t think he realised how close he came to being snapped at several times that day, when in hindsight, all he was doing was showing he cared (copious cups of tea quietly made, chocolate bought…), expressing his concern and trying desperately to draw me out of my head.  In essence: he was communicating. I was not.

The brave man came back after work to check in on me. Having had the entire day to mull things over, I was ready – bring on the tears. And a vague but humble and heartfelt apology… and then an explanation of how I had been trying desperately to make sense of the ‘issue’ and that by keeping quiet I was trying to protect him from the irrational and potentially dangerous unfiltered thoughts flying about my head – thoughts that if spoken would have hurt him terribly, especially as they weren’t true. As much as that effort to protect him was appreciated, we learnt something even more valuable: we have different communication styles and well, that needs to be um, communicated to the other person. Who knew?? As a couple we have to talk about how we talk..?? What an eye-opener???

But you know what was amazing? The moment that ‘monstrous issue’ was spoken and brought out from Thought into Word: it seemed so trivial. And instead of it pushing us apart, by speaking about it, we drew closer together as we shared our hearts and thoughts – we found a way through as a couple. Communication is such a necessary aspect of sharing life with someone else: having the courage to be vulnerable about the things that scare you, and extending the grace to another when they do the same. Isn’t effective prayer meant to be like that? Pouring your heart out to the Lover of your soul, no matter how icky or silly it may seem, to know He listens attentively and lovingly – and then in turn, to wait for His response, which is always filled with Mercy and Kindness. And the result is always the same: its draws you closer in relationship.

So lesson learnt. And our new strategy: being that we are both self proclaimed ‘over-thinkers’, we have made a deal… when one of us is struggling with an issue and needs Time to Over-think it, they’re allowed that freedom and space to do so. However, they also have the responsibility to Reach Out to the other person at various moments throughout the Over-thinking, simply to re-establish Contact; whether its a hug, kiss on the cheek, holding their hand… its just a silent signal of appreciation and love.

I’ll let you know how it goes…

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