Monday, March 13, 2017

Contentment + Change

Last night the sky opened up and dropped layers of white into my March 13th. Something about the cozy brightness of it this morning, awakened a section of my brain that's been sleeping lately-- the part that writes.

The current season that I am in has been one of the shortest in recent memory, one of those periods of time with a marked end date.  And new beginning.  It's been a remarkable season, both of dreams and challenges, and gained perspective that I didn't expect.  Lately I have been making lists, checking spreadsheets, planning, traveling, unpacking, writing checks, packing, generally dropping balls, and not really living life the peace-filled way that I love to.

I know that this season of excitement and activity, leads to a season of peace and building, but I am not there yet.  So this morning the white-blanketed landscape drew me in, and told me to rest, unpack and frame the memories that I have been sprinting past in this season, that are truly worth documenting.

First, going from a seven year single streak to being engaged within five months of meeting, has been amazing!  Hear me when I say that I know that's not for everyone, but that it was specifically designed for my heart by God.  This has given me a great deal of perspective, both for those single (regardless of age or season) and those who are married.  I used to understand almost nothing about "coupledom", living totally in a world of dinner with my lady friends and trying to figure out what work God had for me here on earth.  In truth, I probably was a little insensitive to married people, out of sheer ignorance.  How glad I am, though, that I am bringing my single experience into my married life! That I'll have fully experienced both.  Perhaps we (in our culture and in the Church) don't do the best job of valuing that single season before marital intimacy, but I cannot underscore it enough.

If both Jon and I had not been single for a good chunk of time before meeting each other, I'm not sure it would have worked-- and even if it had, we would have both been less health-seeking individuals who would have hurt each other more. There are so many things that I have learned about myself, and ways in which God has grown my character these last seven years, that would have been much harder to learn within the context of marriage. Singleness, while lonely feeling at times, is the most effective environment for building a foundation of emotional and spiritual health, in my opinion-- you can't point fingers, or blame anyone but yourself. In singleness, we are forced to look at ourselves.  This song comes to mind. ;)

When both people have been through this, even to the point of surrendering entitlement to a spouse, the growth and submission to Christ that happens is beautiful.  Because this is the nature of the relationship I am in, even seven months in, both Jon and I are completely overwhelmed by how good God was to plan this the way he did.  Because we both were forced to develop positive autonomy that led to self awareness, we appreciate the mutual support, encouragement, challenge and insight of our love that much more.  We don't need to be completed, but our partnership makes us both better-- in our hearts, in our work and in our relationships with others.

My current challenge (because there always is one) is in saying goodbye to some really great things at the end of May.  When we gain, there is always loss involved.  I only wish that this season allowed more time in a given week to process those things-- less other responsibilities vying for my attention.  Time to savor the amazing female friendships I have enjoyed here over the past seven years (including with my Mom!), to let those people know fully how much I value and want to continue my friendships with them.  Finding the balance between my excitement for my future with Jon in a new city, and full expression of how much I will miss my sweet community here, is hard.  All wonderful things, but you just can't have everything.

All in all, I count myself ridiculously blessed.  If anything, that seems to be the theme of this season: contentment. 

"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength." - Philippians 4:11-13

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