Sunday, January 5, 2014

Rules of Engagement: Communication

I wanted to start this post off with a story:

Last week, Justin became very sick. He was already done with classes and we were spending the weekend at his parent’s house. He was able to rest a while but soon we had to venture back to school for a few days since I had to go back to work. On my last day of work, I went to check on my guy to find that he had actually gotten worse (due to lack of knowledge of people who gave him the WRONG MEDICINE!... don’t even get me started) well, as Justin was at a low point in his healing, I had reached a personal low, I was slowly digging myself into a deep hole of resentment. So many small things had built up over time and I was angry, annoyed and it was growing fast. God's timing is so funny y'all… After some time apart I got the bright Idea to give Justin one last chance to test the waters and allow him to “read my mind" and give me what I thought I wanted. I walked into his bedroom to tell him I was just going to go home…. Wanting him to tell me to stay… Y'all he told me “okay, I love you.” NOT what I wanted to hear at all. That’s when that little voice in my head chimed in and I just knew I needed to be vulnerable, open my heart and talk to him… right then.
I look back and am still blown away. In my mind I was suppressing this long over due conversation because of previous hurts and walls i had built up as protection.
I am so blessed and grateful that God used this specific time when Justin and I were both completely worn dim to show how brightly his love truly does shine. I sat down on the bed, Justin turned on the light and used the energy he had left to push himself up and listened to my heart. He didn't fight or get defensive, he listened and we talked through it all. 

It’s been a few weeks since my last post. I’ve attempted to write multiple times, only to be stumped by a massive case of writers block. Funny how that tends to happen… at first I called it writers block but quickly learned it was a case of God’s timing. One of my goals for this blog series wasn’t to post about the infinite wisdom I lack but to share what the lord was teaching me through this season before marriage.

I knew from the start that communication was the first subject that I wanted to talk about. From the very beginning of our relationship, Justin and I learned the value and importance of growing a healthy relationship with strong communication skills. As most know, he and I started out in a very long distance relationship. Our days and weeks consisted of periodic phone and skype dates. Being a girl, It was difficult to learn to surrender to the luxury of being upset and trying to make the guy figure out the cause; to actually admit when something was bothering me from the very beginning…. Crazy! I know!

After this past year, I feel like I have a lot of opinions on the importance of relational communication that could probably fill a short novel! But to save time and length I really felt the Lord calling me to humble myself and share what he has been teaching me these past few weeks. As he so graciously placed writers block on my brain, he had a very important lesson for me…. I surely have a lot more to learn in the area of communicating.

I am so thankful and grateful for the man that God has placed in my life for me to marry in 5 short months. Looking back, I suppose one of the biggest hurts and defenses I have learned to deal with in the early stages of dating were with communicating with guys. Life tells us that a guys’ brain is hardwired much different than a girls (which I fully agree with). However, I feel that society takes this concept and tries to convince guys that because of this difference it can be used as an excuse to lack a connection with their ears and emotions. Masculinity seems to be measured by the total deficit of emotion one has towards all that life has to offer. As dumb as this may sound, my first year in college, I unfortunately had the privilege of dating a few who fit into this category. If I wanted to confront, question or even talk about anything regarding the relationship, I had to be ready to put up a justified fight for my “overly emotional” reaction. Pretty soon, as I believe so many girls do, I learned to suppress a lot of what I felt, believing it was an unjustified and a ridiculous feeling to have. 
Y'all, that is so not right! Not even close!

These past few weeks have really been full of so many ups and downs. The Lord walked with me and taught me two really important things about myself and about my growing relationship that helped to unravel and reveal this hurt that had been woven into me.

1.    No emotion is too small to talk about.
My sweet Mentor lives back in Texas but is still such a solid rock for me during this season of life. In one of our conversations, she bestowed some wonderful wisdom to me. With this previous wall of defense I had built, I had also built a rank of importance for issues. If it was small it wasn't important to bring up just yet, it had to be big enough before it was important enough. My mentor encouraged and counseled me to always listen to my heart, big or small, it is always important and worth talking about. However, she strongly encouraged me first to bring whatever was on my heart to the Lord.

Before talking out loud or confronting a situation, our hearts need to be in the right place; a place of love and peace. So many arguments and confrontations arise because we are fueled by raw emotions. We don't allow ourselves time to cool down or even get in the right state of mind. The Lord has control over our hearts, when we are hardened by the world or our emotions he is the one who softens it. Bottom line, despite how important think something may or may not be, if it is heavy on our hearts it is worth talking about.

2.    Ignoring causes resentment.
For weeks, prior to these past few, a sort of resentment was building up inside of me. I knew it was there, I could feel it growing. It was becoming harder and harder for me to selflessly love and serve. A dark shadow followed and grew inside of me with every small action I didn’t agree with. I finally figured out, once I actually confessed what was on my heart, that ignoring and prolonging talking about what was bothering me was building a cloud of resentment in me. I started becoming annoyed and angry at every little thing, I started wanting and building false expectations, finding myself becoming more and more angry when these expectations weren't met.

Suppressing the things on our hearts ignites a spark. Ignoring the suppressed emotion adds fuel to the flame. Over time the fire grows and grows until everything just over flows and a volcano of emotions spill out. I know every girl and even guy has dealt with this at one point in their life. I sure have! Over time I have personally realized that it is my pride that solely hinders me from actually confessing and talking about what is bothering me. Wanting someone to read my mind and fix it for me. But in reality it doesn't work like that. 

"Know this my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger."
- James 1:19
Over the time of our dating and during our engagement the Lord is constantly refining and building our pillar of communication. Learning to share our hearts, be open with one another but most importantly keep Christ in the center.

My heart takes the story I shared in the beginning so sweetly. The Lord knows the hurts and walls I have put up through out the years and he so graciously provided an opportunity to love on my heart and heal my hurts through Justin's character. I anticipated a heated response, an argument or even a justification of my feelings, but got the complete opposite. He listened to my heart and my hurts. He understood and spoke reasonably. He loved on me and prayed with me.

I know that marriage is a partnership but the season of engagement is building that partnership. Being able to communicate and talk to each other is so important. For two to become one the two need to be vulnerable and trusting. The two need to be loving, forgiving and honest, no matter what. We are called to love as Christ loves, selfishly and unconditionally. As we are human it is so difficult to do that, when we rely on ourselves we consistently fall short, we have to rely on Him. "His power is made perfect in our weaknesses" -1 Cor 12:9  and praise God for that!

We are both constantly learning and growing. There are difficult days and easy days but all in all it is just another step in this wonderful adventure. As I have said in the previous post the book The Meaning of Marriage By Timothy Keller hits the nail on the head when talking about so many topics of marriage, including communicating. Its a learning process but one I couldn't imagine experiencing with anyone else.

I pray that the Lord diligently breaks the walls we have built up, that he softens our hearts we have allowed to become so hardened. That his light shines where we have let in darkness, we can find refuge in his light and not in the shadows. That on the topic of communicating, we take James 1:19 to heart, no matter who we talk too.

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