Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Question That Saved Our Marriage

Let me preface this post with two clarifications. First, our marriage was "sticking" no matter what. Divorce was never an option. The title of this post could more accurately be "The Question That Brought Greater Joy, Depth and Life to Our Marriage." I just like the other title. More eye-catching, I think. Second, I was inspired by my husband's message tonight. If you want to hear it for yourself, go to The Village Church podcast on iTunes. Wait until Monday though. It won't be on there yet. Sorry. Now that that's out of the way, here we go...

I was the ultimate good girl. Church was my second home; youth group, my perfected extra-curricular activity. I played by the rules. Mostly. Outside of a month of outward rebellion (emphasis on outward) in my junior year of high school, I was the golden child. I'm pretty sure I was what every parent thinks they want in their child. Submissive. Compliant. Polite.

However, no one tells you there are deeply rooted, insufficient cisterns that are hewed out by and inside the good girl. They're deceptively devastating, cloaking themselves in the fabric of lies like "it's the Christian thing to do" or "just stuff the emotion and do it."

Now, put that broken line of thinking into a marriage. That was me.

We had issues, just like every other couple. It was the same argument, the same frustration, the same disappointment, the same resolutions over and over again. It was insanity. Everything would be going along swimmingly for about a month and then something would set it off. We would be thrown into the same whirlpool, trying to cling to some common ground. Eventually, Matt grabbed a life line. He started going to counseling to deal with his hurts and hang-ups. I, on the other hand, continued to swirl round and round in disappointment in myself and in my resolution to "get my act together" and "be the wife I should be."

I just needed to read the Bible more. I just needed to commit to think of and serve Matt selflessly. I just needed to anticipate his needs. I just needed....

I just needed to ask the right question.

Repeat the above six times a year for six years. Yes, SIX years. Picture a night of tossing and turning after a heated discussion. Imagine feeling helpless and nauseated. Envision standing on your back porch asking yourself if this is what life will always look like. Failure. Disappointment. Pure and utter self-centeredness. MY self-centeredness.

I look back on that night and am thankful in two ways: I'm thankful that it happened and I'm thankful that it is in the past and not now! I finally gave up making the list of all my "shoulds." I finally asked the question of God...


Before that night, I thought I knew how. Puffed up in pride, I had pulled out the paper with my presumptuous plan, smoothed the wrinkles and proceeded to read my solutions to the problem. This time, however, I was out of solutions. I had no plan. I could only listen. Listen to my husband's plea for me to hear. Listen to the Lord's plea for me to bow down and humble myself.

I had to admit that I needed help.

The prideful little good girl within me trembled in her pew. Could I possibly confess to being imperfect? Gasp.

The answer to my how came in the Center for Christian Counseling.

How: the question that saved our marriage. I pray that if someone out there reads this and it resonates with you, don't be afraid to ask how. More importantly, don't be afraid to wait for the answer and then obey.


Erin said...

I swear, Lauren, next time I see you at church I'm going to come up and introduce myself as the girl who is always touched by reading your blog. I almost did it a few months ago - you and Matt were leaving with your kids. . . but I was fearful of interrupting. (I have issues!) :-)

I wrote almost the same kind of post as this one. If you have time I'd love for you to read it. It's called "Briefly Free."

Christian counseling has been the most exciting, wonderful thing I've done for myself in such a long time. I've been to counseling before, but not Christian counseling. What a difference! Matt said in a sermon once that when we hear those little urgings to get help, it's the Holy Spirit (because why would our worldly human minds admit to needing help?) and we should LISTEN and move in obedience. It took me months of hearing that sweet whisper to get up the courage to call and make an appointment. It's been so worth it!

Thanks again for your encouragement!

Bex said...

I love your transparency. I'll listen to Matt's sermon soon.

Hope your family had a fun holiday...even if some of it was in a daze. :)

Shane, Steph, Adeline, Adam said...

Thanks for your honesty, Lauren. I relate on so many levels. I will continue to ask the Lord, "How" and continue to pray for change in my heart.

I run to Matt's messages on the treadmill, so I will download his sermon tomorrow. :)

Anonymous said...

Hey Lauren. Thanks for your post. What you said absolutely resonates with me and my own story. After working at The Center for Christian Counseling, I gained more of an understanding of how this marriage thing is supposed to work. But even still, there is no teacher like that of experience. I would love to hear more of your insights; what The Lord has revealed to you about godliness in marriage. How have you guys done it?

Anyways, thanks again for sharing!

Ashie Nichole said...

All I can say, is I really needed to read this today. The part about "can I possibly confess that I am imperfect," especially resonated with me. Thank you for always sharing your heart.


Erica said...

Hey Lauren!
This is Erica from The Village and CR. I found out lots of people have a blog like this, so I decided to join.
I don't know how to get a friends list like you have on your blog. I'd love to be blog buddies.
Talk to you later!


Bezner said...

I don't guess there's anything better than being vulnerable...letting down pretention...and confessing your inadequacies before God. What seems impossible and painful becomes a release of sorts. You're a great example for us all.

David Campbell said...

There are times I read your entries and feel as though I am reading my own. Thanks for your honesty and transparency. David and I had a very blissful dating time, and when we got married we did not understand what in the world happened to our seemingly perfect relationship! So glad there is Hope in our asking "how?"

thosetonnes said...

Thanks for being honest. Christian Counseling has been one of the best blessings in my life. It is too where I find out how. It is amazing to know that others struggle with the same things, and how God redeems them.

Isaac, Kim and Landen said...

Thanks for your honesty, Lauren. It's comforting to know I'm not alone in this "imperfect" battle. I have been fearful of the "How" and this was definately encouraging!

Kristen said...

Your honesty really does speak volumes. Thanks for posting this. Oh, and thanks for the comment on my blog, it made me laugh...but I don't believe that you looked like a boy. I saw the pics on here of you as a child, and you look exactly the same except smaller...beautiful! Hope Christmas was wonderful.

Magen Wesson Roberson said...

All of it is so true. I hate that lie that says..."You two are the only ones that struggle that way...get it together!" Thanks for sharing this. It ministers to any's the truth!

Mrs. Baublet said...

This is so encouraging! I can absolutely relate to this. This might sound weird, but it's nice that you and Matt don't put up a fa├žade of being a superhero-perfect couple, as many pastor's families do - it makes your message in ministry that much more believable. So thank you :)

Marcy said...

we've met only a handful of time, mostly in passing, at the Village. I often come to your site but I'm a lurker... I was inspired to comment today. Thank you for your honesty.

The very question you asked for your marriage I asked for my life. I've started a blog that will hopefully document and bring Glory to God in all the painful and sometimes humorous ways he chooses to break me.

It starts here:

PS Matt's msg smacked me square between the was refreshing. :)

Dawntoya and Adam said...

Oh Lauren...oh Lauren...oh Lauren....I teared up again just like I did before Adam and I were about to be married at dinner with you and Matt listening to your story KNOWING that we were headed down the same path. You are discipling me from afar. Love you.

Sunni at The Flying Mum said...

Love this post! Thank you!

sim said...

good word!

The Barksdales said...

Hi Lauren, this is Lauren. :) I just got into/addicted to blogging, my good friend Ash Keplinger has got me hooked and now there is no hope for me :)
I have been going to Recovery for three weeks now because of the same things you blogged about. I have been married for 1 year now but these same questions and feelings have been filled in our heads and hearts for a while now.
I grew up in Midland as a preacher's kid. So there were always "eyes" watching my every move. My father daily said that we did not live the way we did because we were the pastor's family but because we were christians and while I understand that now I did not then. So i too covered up my hurts and hang ups and emotional blawness. I was a huge part of the youth group and very very involved in church but there was always a part of me that felt like I couldnt be real and I had to "act" the part.
Well I began to rebel my sophomore year all the way through college. Well this pain and hurt did not go away when I would rebel it just became very very deep into my soul and part of my secret. I brought all of this into my marriage. Being the perfect couple and the perfect wife and then just giving up at times when I was tired of the charades.
But finally about a month ago I decided i was tired of faking it and came to recovery. It will be a slow process but I love that I can be real and really hurt and really cry and really worship in the presence of the Lord with those that are just like me. So thank you, I thank you so much for your transperancy and allowing the Lord to use you to speak to me.

Momma Malek said...

Hey Lauren, can you give me the title of the sermon you're referring to since this is such an old post? I'd really appreciate it. After 10 years of marriage, it seems like we're in that ugly cycle and I hate the thoughts creeping in. Of course we're "sticking" too, but I hate feeling like, "this is it??"