An Anniversary…A Time to Reflect.
A year ago today I waved “See you later” to my parents as I walked through the departure gate at Edinburgh airport to step onto a plane to begin a new adventure…to marry my American fiancé and start a new life in the U.S. I was a bag of mixed emotions!!! Sad to be leaving my home in Scotland and all my family and friends, but at the same time nervous, excited, a little giddy, and impatient for the next 12 hours to be over, and to be greeted by my sweetheart, who I had not seen in 4 months, and who, 2 days later, I would call Husband. I took with me God’s promise in Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not evil, to give you a future and a hope”’; also the promise that I didn’t have to fear, “Be strong and courageous, “Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go”” Joshua 1:9. Along with these promises from the LORD, I also took with me a set of expectations…those given by the society that surrounded me…
Part of the journey I have been taking whilst studying A Confident Heart, by Renee Swope through Proverbs 31 Ministries and the online bible study group I am blessed to be a part of, has been recognizing how I have let my past define and shape me. I have been going through a time of deep reflection, at times painful reflection, of my past hurts and failings, and have been moved to tears by the way I have let the labels I was given, and those I put on myself, define and control my behavior throughout my life, and create doubts and insecurities that I battle daily.
This is a time of #movingforward in my life. A time to overcome the labels of my past, and allow God’s Word, and His #priceless love, to create in me a clean heart…#aconfidentheart, and to rediscover #whoiam.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” Psalm 51:10
Of course, that then is the perfect time for the devil to recognize the playground I have provided him, and to mount his attack. This time though, he will discover that the Lord has armed me in defense…I am ready to recognize and overthrow those thoughts.
“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day…take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…” Ephesians 6:13-18
One Year Anniversary…
Yep…it’s in 2 days as I write. What an amazing first year it has been! As I reflect, however, I am tempted to fall into the trap of reflecting through the eyes of society, and those society driven expectations and rules I carried to America with me…Lord, help me to reflect only through Your eyes as I seek to recognize and thank You for the way You have been shaping our marriage, and future.
You see, in my mind, the first year of marriage was all about laying the foundations in terms of establishing myself as a wife and homemaker. My goals should be, by society standards, to have a beautifully furnished and decorated home. I should, at the moment, have an artistic, and well thought out Thanksgiving display welcoming people into our pumpkin-scented, candle lit, clean and tidy home with the hardwood flooring, and granite countertops!! Now, don’t get me wrong, there is NOTHING wrong with any of those things, and I would love to have them one day!
I should, by society standards, be cooking a warm, hearty meal for my husband each night, in our Paula Dean and Pampered Chef accessorized kitchen with the smell of warm bread wafting through the home, greeting him as he returns home from a hard day at work. Again, NOTHING wrong with that picture in and of itself…and I would love to be able to cook!!
We should both, by society standards, and certainly by the age of 33, have established careers, a healthy savings account, retirement plan, and vacation fund. Now these are all very sensible, and wise things to have, and under certain conditions, perfect.
So if I don’t have any of these things, is my first year of marriage been a failure…? Not at all, indeed it has been a revelation of Scripture and God’s will for my life becoming real and a priority in my hopes and plans. It has not been an easy year. My husband changed jobs seeking a dream he began to seek many years ago. I took a job that led to me being stressed and trapped in misery and realization that I took it seeking the worldly expectations, not the Lord, I wrote about this more in a previous blog. We moved from a rather small, but adequate studio apartment to a one-bedroom apartment that begged for a certain level of income. We tirelessly visited church after church seeking a spiritual home in the desert we had found ourselves in.
However, “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” Romans 8:28. We are thankful that the Lord brought us through this time, we are thankful that He gave us the “desires of our heart” (Psalm 37:4) even when He had greater plans for us. We have learned so much during this past year, and I believe that is the most amazing part of our journey…the Lord has brought us through that desert wilderness and revived our hearts and minds to be obedient to His calling. He has tuned our hearts and minds to what He desires for us and has helped us to realize that we will not find that in the world.
I am so happy to be able to say that we are starting our second year of marriage unemployed and living with my mother-in-law! Why? Because it’s where the Lord wants us. We are starting this year by seeking His will above all else (Matthew 6:33). No, we don’t have a beautiful home full of all the beautiful things that I would love, but we know that the Lord has called us not to lay up for ourselves treasures on this earth, but rather to lay up our treasure in heaven and keep our focus on things of eternal value (Matthew 6:18-21). We are told not to worry about what we will eat, or what we will wear: the Lord knows our needs and will supply them (Matthew 6:25-32). We believe in our hearts that the Lord has asked us to minimize our possessions and follow His calling on our lives. He has asked us to deny all of these longings for life that we have, deny the expectations set out by society, and follow Him (Luke 9:23-27).
The Lord has called us at this time to return home to a place of refuge where He wants to speak into our lives and prepare us for our future calling (Psalm 36:7; Psalm 91:4; Proverbs 18:10). We believe that the Lord is taking us into a time of sabbatical in order to seek His face and to test and discern His will for our lives (Romans 12:1-2).
So, reflecting upon my first year of marriage…do I have all that society would drive me to pursue and desire…no I do not, but oh what a wonderful thing: “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10). Maybe one day I will have all of these things, and maybe I won’t! It certainly would be nice, but only if it is in line with the plans that the Lord has for us.
I am so happy, because my joy is not found in earthly things, but it is found in the Lord (Job 22:26). I am blessed beyond measure to have a Godly husband who, every day turns my face to the Lord and who turns to Scripture in seeking to lead us in the ways of the Lord (Ephesians 5:25-27). I know that no earthly thing can satisfy the longing in my heart to be obedient to the call of the Lord on our lives…whether we have a lot, or very little. I am so excited about what the next year of our marriage will involve, because I know that God has a perfect plan for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11).
Lord, armed with the truth of Your Word, I refute these claims of society and, instead, hold fast to Your plan for my life. When I am tempted to look at what others have, Lord help me to look at the most important thing I have, that so many DON’T have…You. Amen.