I could not have been happier to be the newly wed, trying to squeeze all our wedding gifts into our teeny tiny little one bedroom apartment. I was in total bliss, as I would have been anywhere, because we were finally TOGETHER!
Not only was I anxiously awaiting being married, I just wanted to be with my man! James and I had agonizingly endured six months in a long distance relationship, separated by a fourteen hour drive. Ahhhh! My body and my heart longed to have him with me!
When wedding bells finally rang and our honeymoon cruise ship had set sail and then returned home, we began our life together. James drove off to his first real job to support our family of two and I finished college (tail between my legs, I am that girl! but hey, I did finish in the end.) Part of my more flexible schedule included the responsibility of building our new home for us to enjoy together. OK, well home keeping is still my job and he can’t have it (I love it!)
So, I am going about new dishes stacked neatly in the cabinets, putting approximately eleven holes in the wall to hang one new picture, even enjoying doing laundry for two (that much has changed. More of it and I can’t say I enjoy that anymore.)….and then I pull out the new bathroom rugs, the very ones I had registered for, but umm, yikes. I had two rugs for this absolutely, ridiculously small master bathroom and neither one of them would fit without having to be folded completely in half!
So, let’s make a long story short: I returned them. For a new lamp.
Hey, I was liking my new exchange. The living room looked brighter and more decorated than when James left for work. And I thought he would be pleased with my exchange, my home cooked meal, and ME forever. And life would forever be bliss.
I do believe it was the first time he spoke to me that his voice wasn’t complete admiration and adoration, “Caaaaaroooooline…..” I hear him yelling from the bathroom later that evening, “Where is the bathroom rug?!!!”
I thought my explanation of the return for the lamp was quite enough but he stared at me dumbfounded, “Where am I supposed to stand when I brush my teeth?!”
And although a small incident, I learned that my marriage would not be perfect. We are two humans that think differently (oh how little did I know!), we act and shop and interact with family and spend money and joke and reason and even brush our teeth differently. Which, let me be honest, took a while to iron out…and we still ain’t perfect. Perhaps, it is just that knowledge that has been an aide to our marriage and a relief to my idealist mind.
So, wrap it all up, marriage taught me that life is not just about me. There is an us.
James and I were strolling about a happy marriage that we were starting to get figured out. I had, FINALLY, graduated from college and was working in an amazing school. We were happy DINKS. Double Income No Kids. And then our happy life got even better: Madison!
I had already grown in maturity through this marriage thing. I was raised in a family with eight children, I nannied a family for four years with four children ages five and under, I was an elementary teacher with a freakin degree in Kids, I WAS GOING TO ROCK THIS MOMMY THING!
And then something happened: MADISON!
She could care less what my background was! She was not impressed with our happy marriage. She didn’t care to be “polite” when there was company around. Madison was not concerned with the fact that I had not eaten all day or that it was the VERY MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, or that I was in public with spit up covering my shirt and pants and arms! Madison was concerned with one thing and one thing only: Madison!
But even though she was selfish (let’s face it, newborns are selfish) and even though I took great pains to bring her into this world (and she has yet to thank me) and even though she is the most expensive thing that James and I ever invested in and even though she required more out of me than anything, I LOVE THAT LITTLE GIRL MORE THAN LIFE ITSELF! There is absolutely nothing in this world that I would not do for her! There is absolutely nothing she could do to lose my love AND NOTHING SHE COULD DO TO EARN IT!
Wow! Is that how Jesus loves me?! NO! HE LOVES ME MORE THAN THAT!
So, if marriage taught me there is an “us.” Being a mom taught me there is something even bigger than us! James and I have a purpose that exceeds our great marriage. We have a baby to raise! We had to “grow up.” Less dates, less sleep, less money…there is someone else to think about FIRST.
And life went on. I wanted the best for Madison! She must have squeaky shoes to teach her to walk, she must have healthy food to nourish her body, and swim lessons for my little fish, and friends to teach her to share, and this and that and more.
But then something happened, Jesus took my firm grip on my daughter and loosened one little finger. Madison wanted to do things that were mean. She didn’t want to speak kindly to her cousin when she was upset. Shocker to me! My daughter is a sinner! And then even good things, “Mom, I want to swim in one of those cages with sharks in the water!”
“NO! NO! NO!” That was not the plan that I had! She wanted geckos for pets and to wear Nike shorts when I wanted her to wear a dress, and her plan for the day was not exactly my plan. And Jesus loosened one more finger!
And bit by bit by little bit, I learned something: It is not about me, it is not about my husband, and it is not EVEN about my daughter! I love them both so much, so very much! But it is not good for me and not good for them for me to make them an idol and give them the responsibility of being my god!
IT IS ABOUT JESUS!
So, my darling husband, I long so very much to be a wife after God’s own heart. I desire to be a 1 Corinthians 13 wife, whose love is full of patience, kindness, humility, and all the qualities that can only be from God and not myself. My baby girl, I want God’s plan for you, not my own! He made you so absolutely amazing and he has a plan for you that is so much greater than my plan! IF HE makes you a marine biologist that swims with sharks, I want to support that! (OUCH!)
My family, I surrender you to God. Lord, never let me be a stumbling block to those that I love the most! I want to be a servant that seeks ways to be helpful, not demanding my own way. I want to be wisdom that is godly advice. I want to be an example to my daughter of God’s grace, forgiveness, and power that can come from no one other than him!
Lord, be a miracle in me so that those that know my weaknesses more than anyone would look at me and claim, “Wow! That is God himself at work, because Caroline could never do that!”