You can read the first post in this series here. =)
We have finally moved. In fact we are on week two in our new 2 bedroom duplex/house and we love it. Lack of air conditioning and all. Last week was horribly hot but by the generosity of some people I like a lot, I had a Caribou gift card and spent one of the days enjoying Deuteronomy in the sweet air conditioning — along with another pregnant woman who was crafting something for her baby and a few other adult men reading their Bibles. It was a stellar afternoon. We spent the rest of the week housesitting for some great friends while they escaped the heat for vacation. They had several AC units. =)
So now we are back home and with the heat wave breaking, we’ve continued to unpack home. Including decorating Appleseed’s room. And I’m resuming the blog series on Eric’s and my first year of marriage — we celebrate next Monday!
Looking back Part II
Conflict is inevitable in life. Some of us like to run away from it, some are a little too eager for it. Probably most of us (who do any thinking on the subject) wish we were better at dealing with it. There’s a reason Peter asked how many times he should forgive his brother (and he probably thought 7 times was on the generous side). I have struggled with forgiveness for as long as I can remember. Many friends have had to put up with multiple apologies because I told them I was over some frivolous event and instead let bitterness creep in and poison my heart. This year, God did a number on my heart in this area. And I still have a very long way to go. Eric texted me a great quote from a sermon by Tim Keller he listened to on the way to work. I don’t have it anymore but it went something like “bitterness is continually holding someone accountable for sin.” This directly contradicts Scripture. Jesus died for us while we were still sinners. And forgives us over and over and over again. This year has been about learning to let go of my “right” be feel hurt. It’s irrelevant. Yea, hurt happens. But I’ve hurt Jesus more deeply and more often than anyone has ever hurt me. It’s time I get over myself. I long to imitate Christ in this regard.
When I started LDI, one of the things I learned first from my good friend, Brittany, was the importance of talking everything out in the first year — soon (read: after the first year or so) the conversations would get shorter but it was better to stay up than to let things fester. Boy did we talk. We have had many a 3-5 hour conversation complete with tears, laughing, and (pre-pregnancy) even a little wrestling (typically at my request). We all have to figure out what works best for us right? =) We have talked through everything, multiple times, from insecurities to prioritization to affirmation to unity to apathy to rest and back again. And sometimes foregoing sleep is just necessary, no matter how heavy my eyes get.
As I blogged last time, we tried to always be working toward the goal of unity. Preferably working through a problem as a team but often having to figure out how to do that during the dispute.
I’ve learned the most about my selfishness during conflict. Sometimes I can’t even recognize I’m being selfish. Other times I know it and just can’t figure out how to get out of the cycle. These are typically when “time-outs” are called. God has been gracious. Sometimes they don’t work and sometimes they work wonderfully. Either way, we are able to re-approach the situation from a new perspective, after emotions have cooled and clearer thinking has been allowed to surface.
Maybe this all seems like an odd thing to share. But I can confidently say that there has never been a day when I have regretted marrying Eric. Not a day. That reminder has actually been what helps us get on the same team a few times. In my selfishness, I will suddenly start to think about the characteristics of Eric that I love. And even though it feels out of place, I start blurting them out. God is so gracious. I can talk openly about how Eric and I deal with conflict because I know it has brought us closer to God and each other — therefore, it’s worth it.
Speaking of grace, that is probably the biggest component of conflict. Eric and I made an agreement that we wouldn’t hold resentment for one another. So when we realize we have been doing it, we confess it to one another. This vulnerability is freeing only because of the covenant we have made with one another. Confessing weakness and sin feels nearly impossible if I am convinced the truth will make Eric leave or cease loving me. But through the design of God, our weakness can show the strength of his bond. It’s yet another reminder that we are incapable of making life work without him. And recognizing that Eric is in the same boat of needing Jesus to do anything right is humbling.
As of late, I’ve been learning most about living an attitude of repentance. I want so badly to be worth something on my own but it has been the last couple of weeks (along with more processing from the TGCW12 conference) of many conversations and time with God that have helped me to see the freedom and fullness of life that come from a humble and contrite heart. This is not easily acquired. But everyday of life is a battle and becoming more and more aware of the stakes and my role in it help me to believe that the battle exists and is worth fighting.
Conflict is hard. There are times when we have smooth sailing for a while and times where each new wave produces a bigger one. But as Eric has so aptly pointed out (the wisdom of my husband is a pure gift from God), even if each day sucks and we don’t know what we should do to fight our sin/flesh, the important thing is that we keep fighting. Keep searching. Because the moment we stop to lay down, we’re dead. He told his small group guys over and over again, “Don’t fall asleep on the battlefield.”
Falling asleep will kill our marriage. So we have conflict. It will look very different when Appleseed gets here — parenthood will bring new conflicts and new obstacles to solving problems. But it will also bring another in the flesh reminder of the goodness of God and the beautiful blessing our marriage has been to each of us. And it will give us more opportunities to lean fully on God for any amount of functionality and keeping our marriage alive. I’m ok with that. Leaning on myself generates conflict with Eric because I’m a huge failure and get in our way all too often.
Here’s to another year of being thankful everyday that I married Eric Nelson.