Since mid-January, I’ve been stuck in a fog – mentally and emotionally. It’s not all that uncommon when this time of year rolls around. The soonest we intend on traveling back to Virginia isn’t until Thanksgiving, and we don’t have many travel plans on the horizon, so not much to look forward to in that regard. Some circumstances at work haven’t been the most ideal to start off the new year, either, so that was another stressor. I’ve overall been feeling drained, busy and worn out. Jim’s work got off to a running start in 2017, and he wasn’t able to catch his breath until he was forced to stay at home, sick with the flu. Not that having the flu is an ideal way to rest. In fact, it’s exhausting to have a temperature and feel miserable 24/7. But it caused him to stop and focus on recovering. It really wasn’t until this weekend that both Jim and I felt this preverbal fog lift. Perhaps it was a combination of the 80 degree weather, the three day weekend, our work calming down and experiencing our new sense of normal. This morning, I didn’t wake up with a weight on my chest and a burden in my heart. I felt rested, I felt refocused.
This weekend, Jim and I had the chance to slow down. And when we slowed down, we could reflect and revaluate some goals. One of my favorite things to do with Jim is to share my dreams. And it’s truly exhilarating when Jim supports and shares in my dreams. One evening, we took a walk through downtown and the historic district, walking underneath the lights, reiterating some of our dreams. It helped me refocus, to step back from the daily grind and see the big picture.
What’s more is I’m finding our dreams evolve and change over time. Our expectations shift as reality takes it’s toll. Take marriage, for instance. You fantasize about what it’ll be like, and then reality meets your expectations. I like comfortable, I like predictable. I do not consider myself a risk taker. Many of you may be surprised because I think I appear as an extrovert, but I’m really more of an introvert. I’m happy to stay at home on the weekends, and being with people drains me more than it energizes me. Living life with Jim pushes me outside my comfort zone, because he’s adventurous, ambitious, and outgoing. He’s more of an extrovert than I am. I’m not saying marriage isn’t wonderful, but it’s more challenging than I ever imagined. We are so different! The act of constantly “dying to self” daily and love selflessly isn’t the easiest thing in the world. Talk about sanctification! But that’s what marriage is intended to be, a picture of God’s love for us. Therefore, we’re in a constant state of sanctification, because we’re causing each other to grow in the likeness of Christ. So maybe you used to bicker over a sink of dirty dishes when you fist were married. But then life happens – sickness, loss, pain. And those experiences really put that pile of dity dishes into perspective. It’s not such a big deal anymore, now is it? That’s what I mean by our expectations shifting. What may have been a big deal to us then isn’t so much of a big deal now.
(Note: this clip of Chip and Jo really encourages me when it comes to the beauty of being different from your spouse and how God can use that to help each other grow in His likeness).
I’m also discovering that desiring God’s will is easier said then done (especially when it doesn’t align with mine… ). I laugh now because the places Jim and I have lived since we got married are all places I never desired or intended to live. Atlanta? No thanks, I hated cities and the chaos they ensued. Where did Jim and I live for our first year of marriage? Atlanta. Mississippi? No thanks, I don’t know anyone there, it’s really far from family and I’ve heard it’s hot and humid as hell. I laugh when I think about our move to Mississippi. When Jim was applying for jobs at different mills with Georgia Pacific, they gave us a sheet to fill out. We were to list the top five states where we wouldn’t want to live. You want to know how I filled out my sheet? 1. Mississippi 2. Mississippi 3. Mississippi 4. Mississippi 5. Mississippi. Mhmm, every single slot, I put Mississippi. And where did we end up? Mississippi. I’m telling you, if God wants you to be somewhere, you’ll end up there. Whether you go with a good attitude or go kicking and screaming, you’ll end up right where He wants you.
Next month, it’ll have been a year since we first visited Laurel. And look at God’s hand and faithfulness through it all – our home, our jobs, our community. This weekend, we experienced a perspective shift. We reevaluated and reexamined our dreams, discerning what’s most important as life experiences happen. And although our dreams may change, my husband’s support remains a constant, and God’s plans never wavers.