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Marriage is suppose to be the Happily Ever After that we see in Fairy tales, right?
That IS the big picture we see day in and day out. People flock to movies and DVR the latest episode of the steamest shows on TV.
One of the many reasons to get married is to complete the whirlwind experience and live Happily ever after. But then what?
What comes after you get whisked away in your horse drawn carriage?
Wedded bliss, right?
In God’s word, Paul writes that it is better not to marry. <- my paraphrase. (1
If God created marriage then why is this Happily Ever After idea not in any of the pages of His word? Jesus is perfect and they hung HIM on a cross. No Happily Ever After in that scene. At least not in the context that we rush to get in line for to witness.
After 16 years of marriage, I can say I am still waiting for that Happily ever after. However, I do agree with Paul. Marriage is not for the weak of heart.
Most married individuals, who have been married for any length of time. Would agree, that at some point in their marriage. They too have lost that happily ever after feeling. And at some point, most of these same married people were able to gain new insight over those not so Facebook worthy seasons.
These seasons were resolved.
Some divorced, others were better equipped. The last group… to me, felt like they just “dealt with it” and became roommates. I never understood what this “roommate”, group looked like or how they made it through the day. All I know is that it didn’t look like this group was living the abundant life that Jesus died for them to have.
I felt trapped in this group, but unwilling to settle for less than God’s best. And with God’s help, I was determined to find a better way and share it with you.
I may have started out as an unequipped -stubborn- hopeless romantic at heart-naive- never planned on getting divorced-God-fearing kind of gal.
But if I truly wanted my Happily Ever After, God was the only one that could make that happen now.
Regardless of how I started out feeling about divorce, it is something I feel the enemy uses to tempt and persuade us with as a means to an end. (not all situations please note this)
Don’t get me wrong, I had considered it a LOT. But no matter how hard I tried to reason divorce as an option… it never seemed like that would really solve the issue.
In fact, most of the divorced -God-loving people, I talked to. Told me that getting divorced was one of the hardest things they ever had to go through. These amazing people in my life, ones that I have the utmost respect and honor for, lovingly encouraged me to find a better way.
Nevertheless, I felt stuck… every day.
My soul screaming on the inside. Screaming to feel heard. Screaming to be free.
I was walking around feeling trapped and divorce was not an option.
Sometimes it takes me a little more time and space to understand and learn new things. In other words, don’t we all just wish we had a magic wand to make it all better?
But what if … the concept you needed to so desperately grasp, you couldn’t see?
This was me
To top it all off, no one else could explain it to me even if they could see it.
The brokenness that I am
See I grew up watching mainly Disney movies. You know how the story goes; boy meets girl. Next, some catastrophic event hangs their relationship in the balance. And in an hour or two the crisis has been averted and they live, “Happily Ever After”.
Couple that with our culture and what’s on TV.
Sex sells, right?
Sadly, the above is true, but I think, in the wake of that sale, we are left with a world more broken than before. Broken in such a way that we don’t even know it. So pervasive that it becomes a mindset that is CHOSEN for us and NEVER questioned.
This is where mindset comes into the story. I love this word. Understanding and learning more about what mindset is and all of its many facets. Has helped me to clarify so many things and find freedom in a number of areas. But I had not applied it to the “Happily Ever After” block I had been struggling with.
I couldn’t see it. Not in this context at least.
This, “Happily Ever After”thought has been a guiding principal in my life for as long as I can remember.
That was all I knew.
In my mind what I had witnessed from the above about “love/ relationship” was what it had looked like, felt like and how to attain it for myself. Even if the adults around me at the time didn’t portray it. I felt that they must not have found their prince charming. And that it would be different for me.
In other words, after a couple of years being married, a lot of the happily ever after “edges” had been decimated when the rubber met the road. And the years that followed, it felt like God had sanded all of those new edges smooth.
But yet, I still didn’t FEEL “love”. Even though I KNOW God is love.
Someday’s knowing that made me feel worse and frustrated.
All of God’s perfect love… and I can’t feel it.
With the “Happily ever after” mindset, I couldn’t see anything else.
Painfully aware of this happily ever after focus and the lack of feeling Gods love for some time. Which God had revealed to me during a prayer time or two. However, I felt that it had not been Gods timing to address it.
This past summer I was ready. I had plans. Plans to embark on a cruise with my parents, brother, and cousin.
Free time here I come!
With a week’s worth of time at my fingertips, I could sit with God and get to the bottom of this struggle once and for all.
So I prayed and prayed. Then an opportunity presented itself.
One night my brother convinced me that I should watch one of the shows the cruise line offered. It screamed “Disney” to me. Since it seemed important to him. And being the loving sister that I am, I acquiesced to his request.
As the performance unfolded and my well established ( not perfect) self-talk wained. I could feel this emotion. This “something”, that I couldn’t put a name to bubbling up inside of me. At this point, my positive self-talk could not keep this feeling from expressing itself.
I sat. I squirmed. I said, “See ya”!
Hopefully, I didn’t kick, bump or step on my poor mother, as I bolted right over the top of her. After which, I ran like a cross country athlete running and jumping over hurdles as fast as I could go. With the running track as my destination. I knew that at least there I could run out whatever this feeling was and mitigate another scene.
As a approached the Aqua Theater, I stopped. And asked God to show me why this upset me so.
What was it?
How do I fix it?
At that moment I thought, “Finally, I would get my answer to prayer!” This was Gods moment…
I spent a lot of time on that track over the course of the week. Praying and walking. Looking for answers, a sign, a task. Anything!
But alas, no real answer to that prayer.
I still couldn’t see it.
Have you ever heard the saying that sometimes you have to get to the end of yourself to see/ learn something?
Again I knew that, but I couldn’t see the bigger picture.
Now that I am typing this to you…
I now see that I have lived my life mostly with that focus as well.
As long as I could see the big picture I could move forward.
And feel safe.
What good is safe when you can’t feel love? Not even from God!
What do you do once you get to the end of yourself?
Still feeling like the damsel in distress.
On an ordinary day.
No climax to the story.
No guns blazing.
God showed up and reminded me that my FOCUS was to be on HIM.
That if I wanted to feel love. I needed to ALWAYS seek Him first.
All of which, again I knew and thought I had been doing to some degree.
I had felt conflicted with knowing this principle, yet still struggling.
See I had been processing it through my default mindset.
On a regular-ordinary day, I chose to lay down the Happily Ever After mindset and decided to trust God with my big picture. In other words, not knowing what… was next.
With the only mindset, I have ever known about love at the foot of the cross. What did I have to model after?
At this moment I saw a whole new level of what Jesus meant by, “Come follow me” Matthew 19:21 ( I encourage you to read and reread the whole chapter so you can get the proper context.)
Not only following HIM, but Jesus lists two things to do BEFORE following HIM. I never noticed the BEFORE before.
Jesus is always looking to spend time with us. But distractions and life get in the way. I couldn’t be fully present with Him with the, “Happily Ever After” mindset.
I had to focus on Jesus for my big picture needs, in regards to love and what God designed it to look like. Or the never-ending, soul-bruising, heartbreaking loop would be my- ever after.
I couldn’t see what Jesus was asking me to do until I chose to open my mind to NOT seeing and NOT knowing. In faith I had to blindly take each step, knowing and trusting that Jesus COULD see the big picture and I had to trust Him to lead me.
In a devotion (Embraced- by Lysa TerKerst) that I am currently reading. God showed me a new level of His character. Because of how much Jesus loves us. He is not going to allow me to hurt myself because of my brokenness. In other words, He draws my boundary lines in good and safe places. The best for me places. ( Some of these above points may have been stated in the book, but as I write this from memory I am not exactly sure.)
God wants us to have the freedom and abundance of Heaven, but I couldn’t accept something I couldn’t see or even comprehend.
We do this with our own children.
If we have stairs or other dangerous places in our homes. We put up baby gates or lock things away.
Because we know that a baby doesn’t understand that if they crawl to close to the stairs that gravity will take over. We could try to explain this to them with
These loving boundaries are there to help us move on to the next level of God’s will safely.
Brokenness defined me. I could not see any freedom in the freedom God had given me. And I still felt stuck. I did all the good things, like praying and making time for God regularly. Praying for freedom and wisdom. Waiting for answers.
Answers to see God’s abundant plan.
God’s file couldn’t download into my earthly broken mindset. Once I chose to use HIS software and accepted to upload God’s drivers, then I could download what the next step was.
Following HIM and trusting HIM to lead me to what love was designed to look like was the next step.
Does that last sentence make sense but sound confusing too?
Is there a
Does that struggle include another person? Even if it is your spouse?
Willngness, alone is not what God is asking for. He wants ALL of our heart, focus
I encourage you to share what is on your heart in the comments. Or if you are looking for a group to share within a closed setting. Join this wonderful FREE group of mine.
Let’s do life together.
Ps. I did want to mention something else that I found in Scripture. Something that pertains to the Happily Ever After my heart so longs for. Knowing that these words show up in Scripture gets me through some pretty dark days. And that Happily Ever after, was never meant to be the picture of what an earthly marriage should look like. But it was to reveal an eternal beginning. Check out Revelation 19. Let me know what you think about this.
You are not alone. Even Jesus struggled. Yes, you read that correctly. Jesus struggled. He warned us that in this life there would be trouble. But that He overcame this world, so WE could have life in abundance.
I am struggling too. Struggling is a part of life. It’s not fun. It is hard. No one wants to struggle.
I find in these moments or seasons of struggle, are where supernatural beauty can be found. It’s where, I think, God puts life-changing nuggets, as my friend once called them, in our paths to find.
I was looking out my car window waiting at a stop light when I had a thought- one I think most of us have had, from time to time. The thought was,” whats the point of doing good?” I save money and it’s never enough. Or, I did everything I was told to do, but that too was still not good enough. I think the hardest struggles are the ones you work hard at, put forth your very best, but the result you were working so hard to achieve, didn’t turn out the way you expected it would.
As I sat in my car thinking about this, for less time than it took for the light to change. These were the options I came up with.
Give up on being good. What is good anyway? My good can be different than what you think is good. Or what my neighbor thinks is good. I could decide to be self-focused and do life completely different. I could give up on going out of my way to be kind. I could be nasty and bitter. In other words, do the exact opposite of what and who I am right now.
I could continue to keep walking the path I believe God has laid out for me to walk. I could continue to show God’s love through my imperfect human self. Or I could do the things God leads me to do, even in the face of ” not good enough.”
See, I know that God is glorified in my weakness.
I know you are thinking, that’s great, but weakness doesn’t feel so good.
In my experience, and the more times I am reminded about this- when I take the time to picture my weakness glorifying GOD! The easier it is for me to feel weak.
I tried Option 1, about 5 months after I graduated high school. Now looking back it was exhausting and I felt burnt, dry, empty and so many more feelings inside. Yes, I got to DO what I wanted in that moment, but that “high” never lasted long and the feelings came right back. Sometimes with more baggage than I had before. Yuck!
Five or so years of living with this mindset, and having a beautiful newborn son, at that time. I knew something had to change. I had this feeling that I needed to KNOW what was actually written in the Bible.
Since that moment, and until now, I slowly began to choose option 2, day by day. Someday’s I went back to option 1, but now those day’s have turned into moments that only last the time it takes for a traffic light to change.
I finally came to realize, in this moment, more than any other. If I do my best and even if it is, “not good enough”, in my eyes, in that moment. I have the peace, now; that I did my best. I know it. God knows it. The cherry on top of all of this is, unlike option 1, there is no baggage that comes with it.
God is so great to me all the time, but I love that He meets us where we are at and talks to us in ways that we get it. He showed me Option 1 this way.
A cold, gray, wall that leads nowhere.
I know I have so many things I want to do and see and people to help and talk to. The abundant life that Jesus died to give me. I want to experience life in abundance as many days as I can before I get to live in Heaven with God forever. So a cold, gray, mindset; does not get me to the places and people I want to see and experience. So that is not the option for me.
Then I thought of Option 2 and this is what God showed me.
This picture shows me that regardless of what I feel like, see, think or believe about my current struggle.
Leads me to the life that I want to live out.
I would love to hear from you.
What are you struggling with?
In these moments, at the traffic lights, what options come to you?
Please feel free to share them in the comments section. Or join us in my Facebook Group: Simple Life Steps with Sandy
This question came up in my reading of Hosea 1:2-2:1 and in the study notes that followed. The author mentioned, “Complete Devotion.” At first glance, to me, this concept seems very heavy. After I had taken a second and really thought about it, I saw this concept in a different light.
What if God is laying down all of His expectations and trusting us to use them to create and personalize the path He has planned out for us to find. In other words a bigger picture kind of view. To, in a way, know where we are going, as much as a human brain can comprehend at least.
This is were I fall in love with my Lord even more. If that is even possible. I believe that He knows His expectations feel tremendously high, and sometimes even unattainable, for us to live out. Yet He believes in us and knows we are capable of one day meeting them. Not only that, but He is more than willing to help us, everyday, get closer and closer to meeting them.
Knowing this and living this out, for me sometimes gets tricky. All of this gets “burdensome” on those days when I get side tracked or misread DEVOTION for PERFECTION. Which sometimes, if I am being honest, leads into depression. After which, I just get stuck. Can you relate?
Today’s Bible reading, is a great reminder that all God is really asking for, is our imperfect devotion. If He wanted perfect devotion, He wouldn’t have sent Jesus to die for our sins.
I don’t know about you, but I have imperfect nailed! This I can handle. For those who don’t know me yet, I am completely, head over heals, devoted to my Lord and God.
After I took the time to really stop and pause today. Complete devotion looked a lot more doable, when I looked at it through the eyes of Complete “Imperfect” Devotion. So my answer to the original question, would be a huge yes! I believe that if we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, have the right heart intention, and do our best- imperfectly, in everything we do, every day. I would call that complete.
Does complete, imperfect devotion seem easier to wrap your brain around now?
Please understand there is no wrong answer.
If you want to answer but would like to do so with a little more privacy, join me in the discussion in my closed, judgement free, Facebook group. Free to join and everyone is welcomed.