Thursday, May 13, 2010

Love is not irritable

Two key reasons people become irritable are stress and selfishness. Both need to be eliminated from our relationships.

Dare: Choose today to react to tough circumstances in your marriage in loving ways instead of with irritation. Begin by making a list of areas where you need to add margin to your schedule. Then list any wrong motivations that you need to release from your life.

In general, neither Steve nor I are selfish, especially not in our relationship with each other. We look for ways to give to one another and prefer one another. However, stress is something that has made its way into our lives.

Steve's work schedule is crazy. Two months ago, we had so much time together that we got quite used to that. We saw each other almost everyday. Then last month he started working double shifts that started around 11:00 a.m. and lasted until 2:00 a.m. or 3:00 a.m. the next day for five or six days in a row. When he finally had a day off, he spent it working on the yard or the house or working at one of his other part-time jobs. (I love being married to a man with a good work ethic and ambitions, but at times it can be very consuming.) Sure, the money's great; but at what cost? No amount of money will matter when I don't get to spend time with him, when he's missing out on moments with his daughter. This brings stress - for both of us.

And I am going to confess something of my own - something that has brought me great stress. I have been plagued by fear for months now. On Christmas Day, Claire and I got snowed in at my parents' house in Tulsa. Steve got snowed out. We were talking on the phone as he was driving home from having dinner at our friends' house. He stopped to pick up a guy who was having car trouble. I asked him not to do it. But it was Christmas Day, and he wanted to do a good deed. I asked him to keep me on the phone the whole time. He did, until his phone went dead. I called him back but got no answer. I tried several times over the course of about 15 minutes. Nothing. I began to panic. I literally felt my heart breaking. My husband was out there, somewhere in Houston, with someone I didn't know. (Do you have any idea how big Houston is?! It's not like I could call someone and tell them where he was and that he needed help. He was just gone.) I was so scared. In that moment I allowed fear to take hold of me. It was real. It had a physical presence. Since that day, off and on, I have had that feeling again. I have worried that something will happen to one of us. But I continue to take authority over that. The Word of God says that God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind. The Word says that we will live and not die and will declare the works of Lord. The Word says that with long life we will be satisfied. The Word promises that when we lay down our sleep shall be sweet. There are many scriptures that promise peace. I read them when I need to. I talk to my husband about it so that we can take authority over this in our home. It's less frequent now, but the thoughts come ocassionally. They bring with them great stress. (And for the record, Steve's cell phone battery died. He was fine and rushed home to call me.)

So in order to complete this dare, we need to react calmly to every situtation. Steve is the level-headed one. He doesn't really have any issues with this. I, however, tend to be a little more passionate and dramatic. In general, we don't have reason to be irritable; so it's a rare thing. I will, however, endeavor to eliminate it from my life.

Additionally, we need to identify areas in our schedule where margin is needed. Steve's work schedule largely controls our life. We can't really change that right now. We're moving to Memphis in June, and many things, including his schedule, should change for the better. We will be mindful of this going forward.

Finally, we need to identify and release any wrong motivations in our life. Steve rarely, if ever, gets bothered by anything or anyone. He's never sad or upset or angry. I am the opposite. I FEEL everything. As such, in our marriage, I think this applies mainly to me. Steve and I only have one fight. It started shortly after we got engaged, almost kept us from getting married and is the only thing we argue about now - his family. I've told Steve on several ocassions that if I had met his family before we got engaged I would have turned and run for the hills. But it was too late. I had already fallen madly in love with him and couldn't imagine my life without him. I have not for one second regretted choosing to spend my life with Steven. He is amazing and wonderful and the love of my life. I'm just not sure how such a wonderful man came from such a crazy family. (For those of you who are related to Steve and are reading this, this shouldn't be a surprise to you. Perhaps it's a surprise to read about it on the internet, but it's not a surprise.) Details are unnecessary, but suffice it to say that things have been worse than bad. I have spent many hours praying for Steve's family, but I must admit that I have some bitterness toward them. I am angry that they have treated my husband badly. I am hurt by the words they say to him. He is so wonderful, and I hate the way they treat him. They have made it no secret that they wish he hadn't married me and have gone so far as to say to my face that I am not family. This, believe it or not, is not what hurts me. I hate the way they treat Steve. When I found out that I was pregnant with Claire my protective instincts became stronger. Now I don't want them anywhere near my daughter. I don't want to give them an opportunity to hurt her. I don't want them to have anything ugly to say to her or about her. I don't want them to say ugly things about her parents in front of her. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned; and I am, indeed, a scorned woman. I have confessed this sin of bitterness repeatedly, but I also repeatedly sin again in this area. I want to protect my husband and my daughter. I know that God is capable of protecting their hearts. He doesn't need me to do His job, and I'm not really capable of doing it anyway. I know this, but I still have to remind myself on a regular basis. And I repent of this at least once a week. So for me, my wrong motivation is bitterness. When I let it go, I know that Steve and I will no longer have a reason to fight about anything, ever. I'm working on it, Babe.

So there you have it. The real and raw truth. Complete transparency. The confessions of a woman who needed to read and learn from this chapter. I'm working on it. I repent and determine from this day forward to not allow fear to control any part of my life and to not allow bitterness toward anyone into my life. It only takes a second for me to repent and choose to go the other way. I am choosing to do so now. Heaven, help me!


I warned you that there could be some transparency as we shared our walk through this Dare with our friends! It's getting lively, isn't it?

The most important thing to me is my family. When Amy was working, I had time for lots of things. During my off time I was building a business, taking care of the house, landscaping and meticulously caring for every detail of our household. When Amy quit working we talked about the things that I had going and the fact that these would, at times, take me away from her. Earlier this year she expressed concern that she thought I was devoting too much time to other things.

Knowing that as the head of this household my family comes first, I had to begin to prioritize. I started preparing our business to be sold. I've hired people to care for the lawn, and I did my best to get family-friendly schedules.

In October of last year I turned down a promotion because I feared that it would take me away from the girls more than my flying schedule of four days on three days off. I then took a teaching position, but that quickly turned into an even crazier schedule! In the middle of all of this I felt God calling me to take the promotion I had turned down. I called about it and found out that the position had been taken; but there was another higher-level position that I was offered and eventually accepted. The transition period has been hectic. I am currently doing my new job and my old job. But my replacement is in training, and in June I will be a one-job man! In July our business should sell and things should get more 'normal' than they have ever been for us! I have to make Amy and Claire my priority.

I chose Amy; and Claire is our responsibility. Nobody can ever come between us. Our marriage ceremony clearly stated 'Woe to he who dares to come between us!' This will forever ring true in our relationship. You have to be for us. Nobody can be against us! I choose my family; write that down, dwell on it, be it!

I will do anything for my family! That's my motivation. Where I can go wrong is in distraction and at times mismanaging my priorities. I am working hard on this one and have been for some time.

I have forgiven those in my family that have come against us, but I will continue to protect my wife and child.


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