Last Sunday my husband and I celebrated our 12th Wedding Anniversary. Although 12 isn’t a huge benchmark, it is still pretty significant considering our culture tends to look at marriage as disposable. My husband and I do not have a “perfect marriage” and in fact we have had some very difficult seasons which I have written about here and here. During our 12 years of marriage I’ve definitely changed; I’m not the same girl my husband married.
My Identity has changed.
I was a girl, having just turned 23, when we got married. I was in my fourth year of college with my sights set at climbing the career ladder. I knew Jason loved me and we had fun together. I knew who other people wanted me to be, but I had NO CLUE who I was. It wasn’t until I was about to turn 30 that my identity of who Christ created me to be started to emerge.
As a girl, my identity was sourced heavily by other’s expectations. This included the relationship with my parents, friends, and yes, even my husband. This influenced decisions from what job I accepted to how I cut my hair. Relationally I was bankrupt because no matter my choice I believed I was a disappointment. Pleasure was measured in how others thought of me; I was the ultimate people-pleaser. It wasn’t until Christ convinced me of who HE saw me as; worthy, blameless, righteous and redeemed, that I began to live in freedom to become the confident woman Christ created.
My Confidence has increased.
When I was a new bride I did many things out of ignorance and fear. By no means did my husband give me cause to be fearful, but I lacked confidence in who we were as a couple. I wanted a perfect marriage (the whole perfect marriage thing is a farce) so I made choices that hurt rather than helped.
I’ve gone through three phases of being seen and heard by my husband. At first out of ignorance I bossed Jason around and said mean things when he didn’t measure up. After a few years (and marriage counseling) I realized how my words emasculated him. Out of fear I took the opposite extreme (Because I am totally one of THOSE people) and said NOTHING about anything. I didn’t offer any input to any of our choices and basically left him to decide everything.
Now when I give my opinion on a subject or a choice we need to make together, I am confident in what I say. I don’t have to be afraid of what I do say or don’t say because I have the confidence and courage to speak what I know the Lord has given me to say, even when it’s hard.
I am a woman of Courage.
My 20’s are shamefully riddled with manipulation and half truths to protect myself. Part of this was due to my people pleasing nature, but also because of a lack of truth and courage. I grew up in a church going household, but my heart was not influenced by the teachings. I didn’t make the choice for my own faith until a year before we married. At 23 I was a new believer with a new nature, but was not living out of it and instead continued with the old behaviors. Whether it was a lie or a half truth I didn’t risk much in my relationships, not even my marriage. I kept my feelings and true thoughts close to my chest as protection to my own ego. In all honesty I didn’t want my mind to change very much. I was a pharisee making judgement from behind a mask of my own perceived perfection.
Now I take risks of transparency and truth even when I know it can end with the result of me being hurt. There are occasions for boundaries, which I write about here, and sometimes others have said I am TOO transparent in relationships because they aren’t willing to return transparency. The truth is there’s freedom in living life transparently where there literally is NOTHING left to hide. Living this way has left me quite compassionate toward others.
My Compassion for people has grown immensely.
As a new bride I was passionate about pretty much one thing…myself. Face it, we get married because of how happy it makes US. I married Jason not because of how it made HIM feel, but how it made ME feel. I was often judgmental and had more compassion for animals than people hurting right in front of me. I was selfish and defaulted to blaming others for the predicaments and problems they found themselves. I could walk past a hungry and homeless man because my logic was he was an alcoholic, lazy, criminal, etc…I made excuses for why someone didn’t deserve my compassion.
God has replaced that selfish thinking with SUPER COMPASSION that isn’t limited to feelings. The compassion I now experience for others is overwhelming at times. Waterproof mascara is a must in my world as I cry at the drop of a hat. I cry when I am happy, sad, angry and frustrated. The emotional response of crying is one component of compassion, but it’s our action that makes us truly compassionate. I find myself giving every part of myself in most situations, perhaps even to my detriment.
All these changes are fueled by getting to know and experience God. It’s fueled by the beauty and love that’s experienced in growing up together as we’ve grown together. We are definitely not the same kids we were we’re when we married 12 years ago. I wouldn’t want to be the same person I was as a girl. I prefer the woman God has made me today.
Questions to ask yourself:
How have you changed from the girl you used to be to the woman you are today?
How have you experienced a change in your identity?
Where do you have more confidence, courage and compassion?
What or who is the catalyst of these changes?