Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Transformation through Reliance

There is a piece of paper in my car that reads:

missionary= person of weakness relying fully on God's power and grace

It is something I wrote while listening to a devotional this past summer. I kept thinking about the glorification of missionaries and the reality of a missionary life. The truth is that a missionary doesn't have it any more together than the average Christian. Sure, we chose to live our faith out differently but it doesn't make us the perfect Christian. . . heck, the only perfect Christian was Jesus!

The truth is that the "missionary" life on the reservation is hard, not in ways that are seen but in the manner of who it makes you to be. I've lamented over this recently as I look at the person I was when I came to the rez and the person I am now.

I came to the rez full of positivity, consistency in attitude and emotion, excited and ready to see what God had in store. Then as the years passed by I saw so many of the terrible things that I had been shielded from for most of my life. The amount of pain and suffering in these young lives began to crack the positivity and consistency I had arrived with until I didn't recognize the person I had become.

I arrived at the end of two years with an attitude of cynicism and negativity. My emotions had become anything but consistent. As I began to join my life with another I realized the deep impact that the trauma of the rez had had on me. With the slightest criticism, the slightest inkling that something was going to go wrong I would lose it. I had become so frightened of the bad that I lived in a constant state of anxiety.  I had very little control over my words, my tears, my attitude. My emotions had been torn to pieces by all I had witnessed and there was nothing left. Even to love was a risk.

With marriage in my near future the truth became clear, that transformation was necessary. I began to push and push to be different. At the end of each day I would be devastated that I had "messed up" again or fallen back into the patterns of my attitude that were less than favorable. I felt I was climbing a mountain but my feet were stuck in the mud. It was a fruitless endeavor, an exhausting movement without results.

It was when I was sitting with my mom in a coveted time together the other weekend that she mentioned something so simple that I was amazed I hadn't thought of it myself. She told me that I couldn't make the transformation myself. To get back to my best self I had to ask God to help. Only the Holy Spirit could transform my insides, heal my broken heart, and put all my pieces back together. I could continue to struggle or I could let go. . . I could let myself fall into the arms of my Savior and let His healing wash over me. It was a choice I had to make. Wallow in my negativity or allow Christ to do His work.

A person of weakness relying fully on God's power and grace. 

The power to heal my broken heart. The grace to forgive my mistakes. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Getting Married Last

Planning a wedding. Goodness what a lot of work it is!

I am finally getting married at the ripe old (or young) age of 26 and if you follow this blog you know that the last four years have sometimes been hard. Everyone was getting married, having babies, and it all looked so easy. To add to the noise, in the midst of my boyfriend-less world there was never a lack of young, married, happy people who had some advice for their single friends.

"It will come when you least expect it!" (true)
"If you just stop looking, stop wanting it, he will show up!" (not true)
"When you find the right guy the waiting will have been worth it!" (half true, the waiting still sucked)
"That guy is a Christian. . . date him." (seriously??)

Though the advice was all well-intentioned it wasn't always the most helpful, but much of what my married friends didn't know they were teaching me was extraordinarily useful. Being "married last," I have discovered, is actually one of the best ways to enter marriage. In fact, I would recommend it to almost anyone (although one must be prepared for some awkward solo wedding experiences and 3rd-wheeling with your friends.)

So here are the top three reasons why it is awesome to get married last:

1. You learn a lot about yourself

When I moved to California alone I wanted a husband so bad it consumed me. I actually had to pray to God to help me because I was convinced that if I wasn't alone life would be easier. But God didn't provide a person at that time and so in the midst of being truly on my own, I got the chance to learn about myself. I got to become strong in who I was, in my beliefs, in my self-image and self-worth. Because I had four years after college to improve upon myself and take care of me, I feel like I get to come into marriage as a more complete and confident person. My worth does not rest in Cameron, because I know that I survived just fine without him. I know who I am and to me that is a great gift of getting married last.

2. You learn a lot about marriage

I have watched all my friends get married, and being a very contented third wheel I have gotten to closely walk alongside their marriages. I have learned what I like and don't like, what I admire and what I want to improve upon. I have learned what real marriage looks like, not just the facebook kind. I have learned from friends who just got married and friends who have been married for years. And though I will be nowhere near perfect in my marriage, I am so grateful for my married friends who have who let me walk alongside their marriages and learn from their ups and downs. I've gotten a true picture of how to love well and I am so thankful for that.

3. It is so exciting. 

Guys, I've been waiting since I was 18 to find the love of my life. I have been on my own, I have tried to date the wrong guys, I have loved singleness and I have hated it. I have had adventures and travels and now I get to start a new adventure. And this one is just as scary as traveling to India alone! But no matter what nerves I have, all I can be is thrilled because in God's time He provided the most perfect man for me. And I get to keep him for the rest of my life! He was certainly worth the wait (although I still tell him it would have been nice for him to come a year sooner!) and I am extraordinarily grateful for him because I really do know what life was like without him.

So here we come- a New Year's Eve wedding means I'll start off 2016 with a new husband and a new last name. 
Goodness this is fun!