In thinking about enjoying a moment, I often think about how the pressure I place on myself can often rob me of the joy to be had in these moments.
It’s at work. On the days when I feel like I’ve lost my temper and failed to plan well, that I can’t stop and see the beauty of the tiny human souls in front of me. The giant grins on the children’s faces when I unknowingly make a joke, and the unsaid appreciation that occurs.
It’s in marriage. When conflict with Josh arises and I wish we didn’t have to argue, that I can’t see past the imperfections of our relationship aka our human nature. The understanding that is being built and the humor that always seems to pop up after the fact.
It’s in my time alone. When I wanted to clean that closet, but ended up not getting around to it or feeling up to it and just choosing to read a book or watch TV. Recognizing that what’s good for my soul is good enough for my time.
I don’t know about you, but there’s so many more places where I put pressure on myself to achieve, check off boxes, dream bigger, and “make the most of my time.”
Yet, in releasing that pressure, maybe I find more of where my heart truly is at and the ways that I need to rest, embrace imperfection, release unrealistic expectations, and take hold of the reality that is in front of me.
The opinion of others is something that plagues me. For many years, I’ve allowed the opinion of others to control me, dictate my self worth, and determine my moods. I’ve given over my power and agency to others’ opinions. And for that, my mental health has suffered and my joy has been hastily given away.
I allow others’ opinions of me take over my own opinions of myself. I let their views on who I am dictate how I see myself. If they think that I’m inadequate, invisible, or insignificant, I begin to see myself in that way too. If they see that I’m outstanding, exceeding their expectations, and amazing, I begin to see myself in that way too. It truly is a double edged sword.
The cousin to opinion is comparison. I compare the opinions that people have of another person to be in direct link to me. If she is getting all the attention and I’m not, that must mean that she is worthy of the attention and I’m not. If they see her to be impressive and awesome, they must not be seeing me that way either.
In reality, a lot of what I perceive to be others opinions may not even be true. And, even if it is, how much does it really matter? Josh is a king at not caring about the opinion of others.
If they don’t matter, then their opinion doesn’t matter. – Joshua Lee
At first, I thought that this was a bit harsh. Everybody matters, at least to me. 😉 But, this isn’t about anybody’s worth or value. This is about specific people’s influence over my life. I can’t walk through life disregarding every single person’s opinion. I don’t think that’s wise or responsible. However, I can’t walk through life regarding and giving whim to every single person’s opinion, either.
When evaluating another person’s opinion, it’s important to ask myself these questions:
- Are they in my inner circle? There are few people in my inner circle, to whom I would really allow to help shape and guide the bigger decisions in my life. These are people that know me deeply and fully. These are wise people who want the best for me and are truly in my corner.
- Is the opinion real or assumed? It’s easy for me to think that “everyone” has a poor opinion of me when the compliments and affirmation run dry. It’s easy to think that nobody likes me or that everybody hates me when I receive small criticisms or feedback. Yet, I can only go off of what people say to me. I can’t assume the opinion of a large group of people, or project one piece of feedback onto a whole crowd of people.
- This doesn’t say anything about my worth. This isn’t a question, but it’s a statement. When somebody else’s opinion of me is confirmed as reality (which, let’s face it, it rarely is…because nobody is criticizing or critiquing me nearly as much as I assume), it doesn’t say anything about my worth, value, beauty, gifts, or identity. Period. Case closed.
I wrote this list when Josh and I were engaged. We had been thinking, reading, and talking a lot about how to “prepare” for our marriage. After awhile of talking about something for so much, there’s nothing else to say and there comes a time where you just have to walk through it.
After almost two years have passed, I see that these ideas are more true than I realized at the time. Here they are:
Things I thought I learned about marriage before it even started, but are still true today:
- Getting married doesn’t mean you have arrived. *girl tells story about problems in dating* “And look at us now, we’re married! So it all worked out!!!” ………No. Getting married does not make you a success story and it does not mean that you have arrived. It’s just the beginning. Marriage isn’t a trophy you tote around to talk about your success and victory in dating. No.
- Your past sin is not going to ruin your marriage. Maybe this one has a caveat. It won’t ruin your marriage…unless you let it. If it hasn’t been dealt with and brought into the light, then yes. If there is unforgiveness, then yes. I get where the idea that it’s going to doom your marriage would come from. But, just because it existed, that doesn’t mean that your marriage will suffer. There is healing. There is redemption. Jesus didn’t command purity so that when we failed he could use our failure to withhold good from us in the future. He commanded purity because it is for our good.
- Getting married doesn’t mean you have to have it all together. I’ve had this idea of what I would be like and what my husband would be like when we got married. It included perfection, an absence of sin, unwavering understanding of each other, and unattainable levels of maturity. That’s not reality. Our problems won’t be solved just because we get married. It isn’t some magical fairy land where the world stops and all your problems go away. Life goes on and the world keeps moving.
On this Valentine’s Day, Josh and I spent time thinking about our marriage and what it means. It’s crazy that tomorrow we are are speaking to college students about marriage. I hesitated to sign onto this because I just feel so beginner. Our marriage is in its’ beginnings still, we are finding our footing, and we are learning a lot.
I hope that we never stop learning a lot.
Through it all, I’m thankful for the parallel of Christ and the Church and a husband and wife. I’m thankful that the redemption that is easily seen in marriage, and for the joy it is to journey in the ups and downs with my favorite friend, partner, and husband.
I’m thankful for this guy and for everything that makes him who he is. Thanks for making me smile this hard every single day. This one’s for you, Josh. I love you so much.