Tuesday, February 21, 2012

the beauty and mess of relationships

Over the past 6 months my social life has expanded a great deal. I started a new job in September and Michael and I joined a community of believers in Octoberish - and there we joined a small group and started leading college ministry stuff. Since then we've met a whole lot of people and have begun quite a few new relationships. I LOVE relationships. I love connecting. Community. Meaningful conversation. Vulnerability. Relating. Reciprocating. Learning. Journeying. Relationships fill me. Fulfill me. Give me a joy like no other thing on this earth.

But they also stress me out.

Since they mean so so much to me...I tend to worry. I worry about what others think of me. If they like me as much as I like them. If I talk too much. If I talk too little. If I'm too eager. If I'm cool enough, smart enough, interesting enough. I worry about how I look...my clothes. Bleh, my clothes! Oh how I wish I could dress cooler. If I only had the quirky wardrobe of Zooey Deschanel...then I'd be the cool kid. But alas I'm stuck with my two worn, stained and faded pairs of jeans, and a collection of tshirts I've acquired from work events and thrift stores. I only have two or three shirts I consider fancy...and they aren't fancy. I worry. I want to know what others think of me. How do they see me? Do I offer anything? Do they gain anything whatsoever from my company?

There is a lot of mystery in my relationship with God. A LOT. I have a lot of questions...and I struggle with not knowing. Not knowing all of him. Not knowing the ins and outs of his plan, process, and history.

But this....this I know. He's already told me. He knows me. He knows ME more than any person on this earth. More than any friend that I have or any friend that I'm pursuing. And I can feel completely secure in my relationship with him. Completely secure. He does think I'm cool enough, smart enough, interesting enough. He sees me how I truly am....something I don't think I'm able to do...and he accepts me. He goes a step further...he desires me. He loves me. He wants to spend every moment with me. He wants to connect, converse, relate, reciprocate. He wants to fill me. Fulfill me. Wow...that is a breath of fresh air to me. THAT is good news.

I am so thankful for relationships. For the mess of them and the beauty of them. And I'm learning it's okay that there's mystery. A smart man once said, "it's suppose to be hard...the hard is what makes it great." (200 points to the person who can name this movie!) The character was talking about baseball no less, but I think this applies to most things in life, don't you? :) Relationships are hard and that is what makes them great. They challenge us. Shape us. Stretch us. A good relationship may cause hurt. But that hurt makes us who we are...it draws us closer to HIM. To the Creator. To the One who knows us completely. And loves us completely.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

my first kiss

Today I was reminiscing about my first kiss. Well my very first kiss happened at a church potluck when I was six. But that's not the one I was thinking about. This one occurred much later in life...when I was 21. Michael and I had been dating for a couple months. This inevitable kiss was beginning to cause some anxiety on my part and our dates were a mix of all kinds of feelings. I wanted to kiss him. My first kiss was something I had dreamed about since I was girl...laying in bed, listening to Mariah Carey's "Always Be My Baby," fantasizing about the perfect first kiss. But the fact that I was now 21 and it hadn't happened and that it was quickly approaching added pessure, anxiety, and nervousness. So much build up. What would it be like? What do I do? What if I'm horrible at it? At least two dates had passed in which Michael leaned in and I turned my head and gave him a cozy hug instead. I had probably already ruined any chance he'd try again anyway, I thought. Poor guy! Finally, we talked about it. I told him. "I've never kissed anyone and I'm super nervous about it. I'm just not ready yet." I remember like it was yesterday. We were standing by his car outside Barnes & Noble. Michael looked at me sweetly and told me we didn't have to yet...that he wouldn't kiss me until I was ready...to not worry about it when we're together. "I won't kiss you until you let me know you're ready." Ahhh pressure was off and it felt great. I felt at ease with him. Comfortable. Cared about. Safe. And all the sudden my fears began to dissipate and my desire to kiss him quickly increased. A few days later I was housesitting for a family at my church. Michael came over to watch a movie. We sat close on the couch and all I could think about was kissing him and how in the world I was going to let him know I was ready. As the movie played I played out numerous scenerios in my mind. Do I just lean over and kiss him? Do I lick my lips and wink? (haha can you imagine? horrible) Do I write a note and pass it to him under the covers? Do I write k-i-s-s across his knee with my finger? It was the last scene of the movie and butterflies were swarming. The credits began to roll and I just blurted out, "I'm ready! I'm ready to kiss." Michael laughed a little (in a sweet nonteasing way), said okay, and leaned in for the kiss. But it was met with nervous laughter. All I could do was laugh. He continued to try and I could not stop laughing. We were both laughing now and this kiss was not happening. Finally Michael looked at me and in a serious tone said, "I'm going to kiss you now." So he pinned me down on the couch and kissed me. It was wonderful. I wasn't horrible...I don't think. And next, we did what most people do...we went outside and jumped on the trampoline on that beautiful summer's night. It is one of my most fun and happiest memories.

I can't create that moment again. It's passed. If we tried to act it out again, it might be fun, but it won't be the same. But there is definitely something so comforting in remembering. Do you have movies or shows you watch over and over again? Not because they're that great but because they take you to a simpler time. They take you to a time that has already happened. Nothing is unknown, nothing is uncertain. Not just because you know the story but because you are reliving a time in your own life....when you first watched the movie. It's comforting. It's safe. It's known.

The past, unlike the present, isn't scary. You know you made it through. There are a lot of things in my life that are unknown. What's the next step for me vocationally? How do I use my degrees? Should I go back to school? How do we pay off our debt? When will I be able get my act together and lose this weight? When are we going to have a baby? Should I meet my weightloss goal before I get pregnant? Can we afford to have a baby? Do I work when we have a baby? (okay you're probably noticing a trend here ;)) Anyway - there's a lot of stuff. Stuff that overwhelms me. Makes things messy. Complicates things. Distracts me. Distracts me from my goals. Distracts me from sweet simple moments in my marriage. Don't get me wrong - it's important stuff. But it's just good to be intentional about the small stuff. To remember but also create. Keep creating joy-filled moments.

I discovered a blog post this morning that talks about creating those moments in your marriage - The 4 Minute Marriage Habit: How to make 2012 the year you fall madly in love all over again - by Ann Voskamp and it inspired me. Her posts always inspire me. If you're married I know you'll relate...read it.