Aug 27, 2010

Thoughts of a Grateful Heart

God is good.
All the time.
Even when we can't see how He could possibly bring something good out of the turmoil in our lives - He does.

I was struck by this fact in the wee hours of the morning as my husband gently kissed my shoulder and whispered, "Good morning, princess" in my ear. Although it sounds cliche, words really cannot express how grateful I am that God brought this wonderful man into my life. Getting to wake up every morning to his gentle kisses and quiet smile is such a privilege, and I am reminded every day of how much I have been blessed.

It hasn't been an easy road. We went through a lot of trials during our relationship that threatened to pull us apart. I can't even begin to count the number of times I found myself crying into Reese's shoulder and telling him that he should just walk away. But he would only hold me tighter and assure me that he wasn't going anywhere. And it is because he stuck with me through it all that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he loves me and will never leave me. His constant support and love were a picture of Christ's unconditional love.

I remember being told that the first year of marriage would be difficult. In fact, it seems as though whatever stage we are in, people always tell us that the next stage will be the hardest stage. When we were dating, we were told to enjoy it while it lasted because after that, it would all go downhill. When we were engaged, we were told to enjoy that stage of life because the first year of marriage would be awful and full of fights. Now that we're married, we are told to enjoy this part of our life because once we have kids "all hell breaks loose." I wonder why most people can't seem to enjoy the life they are living right now, but always seem to be wishing for the next stage. I suppose it has something to do with the saying, "the grass is always greener on the other side." How sad it must be to live life like that . . .

Honestly, compared to what we had just been through, the first year of our marriage was incredible. We have never been happier, and enjoy every possible moment we get to spend together. I think part of this is because neither of us are confrontational, so we have never had a real fight. That doesn't mean we agree on everything, but we are both committed to working through our disagreements in a logical manner and finding a compromise. Usually whatever we're disagreeing about is something so minor that the whole discussion is over in 20 minutes. We vowed to put each other first above ourselves. That kind of selfless love takes a lot of work, but is so worth it!

The last year of my life has been full of blessings. I moved out on my own for the first time, graduated with honors with my Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an option in Management from MSU Billings (and yes, we often joked about the fact that the abbreviation for this started with 'B.S.'), married the love of my life, got my first professional full-time job, took a wonderful trip to Italy with my husband, and this week we bought our first house! I have also seen God restore relationships after years of prayer. It has been a delightful year full of surprises that challenged me to redefine my concept of who I was supposed to be.

I realized this year that for most of my life, I had been living to please other people rather than daring to be the person God meant me to be. At the root of my being, I have always had an intense desire to make everyone around me happy. And, let's be honest: some people are impossible to please. No matter how hard I worked, or how much I sacrificed, I could never make everyone happy. I couldn't solve every problem, and I just could not live up to everyone's expectations at the same time. I felt like a failure so much of the time that I would cry myself to sleep, begging God to let me move to an isolated island where the only person I needed to please would be Him.

Instead, He sent a very dear friend into my life. After listening to my frustrations over a cup of coffee one day, she looked at me and said: "Erica, you cannot control anyone's happiness but your own. As long as you are listening to God and obeying Him, the only opinion that should matter is His. If other people choose to go through life taking offense at everything, despite your best intentions, that is their choice. Not yours."

That concept has taken a long time for me to accept. I was so used to feeling responsible for the choices of other people that it has been difficult for me to accept that sometimes my best just will not be enough - but it's okay. I can't control the happiness of anyone else. All I can do is try my best and let God do the rest.

I love this quote from one of my favorite books*: "It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else's life with perfection. Imperfect and clumsy as it may look, my life is resembling me now, thoroughly."

And I have never been happier.

(c) 2010 Erica M. Holle. All rights reserved.
 * 'Eat, Pray, Love' by Elizabeth Gilberts

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