Irrational Fears

Hey Friends,

Today, I would like to share an irrational fear that I have. Thefreedictionary.com defines an irrational fear as:

a. a persistent, abnormal, and phobia of a specific thing or situation that compels one to avoid it, despite the awareness and reassurance that it is not dangerous.

b. A strong fear, dislike, aversion.

For example, my baby girl, Hannah was deathly afraid of pink cotton balls when she was a toddler. I have no idea why. She wasn’t going to daycare or preschool at the time because I was a stay at home mom. I always had white cotton balls in the house, so I guess she wasn’t used to seeing the pink ones. I’m not sure what caused the fear, but every time she saw one, she would scream bloody murder.

I took advantage of this fear by placing them around objects that I didn’t want her touch in the house, like, the old school water heaters. Yea, it was a little mean, but she never burned her hands. She always wanted to touch the heaters, even when they were scolding hot during the winter, but as soon as I placed pink cotton balls around them, she never touched them again.

One of my irrational fears is being judged. Since I was a kid, I would always worry about what other people thought of me, but it has gotten worse in my adult years. I would find myself living for other people, doing what I thought other people wanted me to do. Honestly, sometimes it worked out in my favor, but most of the time it didn’t. Ultimately, I paid a very hefty cost; not knowing who I really am and years of unnecessary depression and heartache.

When I would do something that was more “me”, people would be confused and say, “this isn’t the Ashley I know. The Ashley I know would never say or do something like that.” When in fact, yes, this Ashley would do or say that. No one knew the real me, and quite frankly, a lot of people still don’t.

I keep a lot of my life private because of that fear. I don’t handle confrontation well because of that fear. People feel like I’m not approachable in fear of my reaction. There have been times I have had a full-blown anxiety attack because I was accused of doing something that I didn’t do. Instead of simply saying I didn’t do it, I was so distraught at the fact that someone thought I was capable of doing such a thing. Then I would become worried because then I would think, “Am I capable of doing that?” Then I would think about for days and days and days because of what this person said I did. See how much time is being wasted?

I would like to think that my family and friends can come to talk to me about things that are concerning them when it comes to something they see is happening that I am unaware of. Maybe my addiction wouldn’t have gone as far as it did if I wasn’t too afraid to speak up and say, “I need help!” No. I kept it all in because I didn’t want, 1. My family to judge me and 2. To be gossiped about.

Gossip is becoming the new normal in society because we think that everyone does it. Well, maybe it’s not new since God warns us against it in His Word.

“ ‘Do not go about spreading slander among your people. “ ‘Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the LORD. -Leviticus 19:16

I won’t argue that the majority of people gossip, yes, but it doesn’t mean it’s acceptable. I have done my fair share of gossiping and to be honest, I never feel good about when I am done. I always feel like I’ve betrayed the person that I was talking about. And I never want to do that.

Venting, on the other hand, is completely different because you are explaining to a third party about what happened between you and another person. Gossiping is talking about someone else’s business, which shouldn’t be none of our business. Even if you are concerned, it should be shared with you and that person, and maybe another trusted person out of love. Not talked about carelessly. I keep a lot of things bottled up in fear that my situation will be talked about for entertainment purposes.

You may be saying I am overreacting. I would agree with you. That is why this fear is irrational. It controls my life. It keeps me in bondage.  I am unable to share what is happening and ask for help in fear of judgment. I shouldn’t care what my loved ones think, but I do. I shouldn’t allow what someone says about me dictate my every move, but sometimes I do.

I am getting better at it each day because I am learning that:

  1. People will talk about me regardless and what they say about me is not my problem. But how I react to gossip is my problem.
  2. God will take care of the people who choose to gossip. Yes, the majority of us may do it, but in God’s eyes, it’s still sin.
  3. People will judge and talk about what they don’t understand. They will always see what’s in front of them and sometimes that is not always the truth.
  4. God knows everything. He sees and hears everything. His opinion of what I am doing and how I am doing it is the only opinion that matters.
  5. In this life, I only aim to please my heavenly Father, which is to live by His Word and guidance from the Holy Spirit.

I’ll conclude with a short story:

When I was a young kid, my oldest sister lived in New York. I admired her so much and so did my other family members. Everyone loved her. I remember when she would come home to visit, she would receive so much love and attention. I wanted the same. A friend of mines gave me a bag of marbles that we used to play with. They were really pretty and were being kept in this awesome fabric bag. Before she moved, my big sister was always there for me. Made sure I had the nicest clothes and my hair was always done. She always took care of me. Looking back, I think I was missing that and didn’t realize it after she had moved away. She was my escape from the chaos that we experienced in a small apartment almost filled with 9 other people. On one of her visits home, my moms living room was filled with laughter, hugs, and excitement for her arrival.

I quickly thought, “I want love, hugs, and kisses”. I was so small, I felt like I was being looked over or ignored. So, as quickly as I could, I ran and gave her my bag of marbles. I didn’t have much to play with during that time, so it was a big deal that I parted with them. As memory serves, she took them, looked at them, and thanked me. That was it. I thought, “I want more”. I craved more. I wanted her to pick me up in the air, smile really big, and give me the tightest hug a person could give.

I wanted her to tell me how much she loved the marbles and that it was the best gift she had ever gotten. But that didn’t happen. My expectations were too high. I immediately began to feel that her reaction had to do with my character. I internalized it, thinking that I wasn’t good enough. That was my first thought of never wanting to share what was close to my heart with anyone. That I couldn’t do anything to make her happy the way that she has made me happy. I felt useless.

Years have passed as I have completely forgotten that moment, that defined, with many other moments, during my youth, what I thought about myself. How fearful I would become of judgment and rejection. Then I didn’t know that I would soon try to find my self worth in the response to what people said about me and make awful mistakes related to that way of thinking. One day about five years ago, my sister was cleaning out her closet. I was resting on her bed, playing with my baby boy Christian, as my sister and I talked about life. Then she said something that brought yours truly to tears. She said, “Hey, do you remember when you were little and you gave me that bag of marbles?” I said, “Oh my gosh, I completely forgot about that. Yea, I remember.” Then she says, “Do you know I still have them. Every time I travel, I take them with me wherever I go. I never leave home without them.”

Wow! That blew my mind. The fact that she has not only kept those marbles for over 20 years, but she never travels without them meant more to me than a brief moment of praise when I first gave them to her. It means that every time she got on a plane or drove a long distance to go on vacation or travel for work, I was always with her. And my sister doesn’t do light traveling. She has always been one to travel all over the country multiple times a year.

Do you see how the enemy used me as a young child to stir up the fear and insecurity inside of me? Being a kid, of course, I didn’t know what was happening, but this is a perfect example of how the enemy will even attack us as children to further his agenda; kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10).  I told you that story to say, I no longer want to be afraid of what people think about me. Sometimes we never know what people are thinking about us. All this time, I never knew that she held those marbles so dear to her heart. I want to concentrate on the good things that people are saying about me and leave the negative things to God because He knows who I am and I know whose I am.

We have to live our lives for the glory of our Father all while keeping our eyes focused on Jesus. Everything else is irrelevant.

Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. 23 For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing. 24 Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! 25 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? 26 And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things? -Luke 12:22-26

 

Blogging with a Chronic Illness

Blogging with a Chronic Illness

So, when you live with an illness that affects how you process information, it is very difficult to successfully run a blog. It has been for me, anyway.

So, I want to share with you ways I manage a blog while living with Lupus. Please read here if you haven’t already about my fight against Lupus. Right now, I don’t talk about as much because the Plaquenil prescribed by my rheumatologist, has finally kicked in and my blood work is coming back normal. Which is AWESOME-SAUCE! I am definitely in a better place than I was a year ago. I digress.

So, oh yeah…Tips on how to run a blog while living with a chronic illness.

  1. Set small goals: As you know, when living with a chronic illness, your days can be unpredictable. I know for Lupus warriors, one day we are feeling great and the next day it’ll feel like we’ve been hit by a bus. So, don’t overwhelm yourself with too much at once. Set your own pace. The rest will follow.
  2. It’s ok to take a break: Blogging can be emotionally and physically draining for anyone, especially if you have a chronic illness. For me, pain is an issue. I manage it, but I can’t sit one position for too long before my body begins to stiffen up. If you have a schedule for blogging, set aside times for breaks. Blogging can be exhausting, so make sure you take care of yourself.
  3. Water, Water, and what…More Water!: I know you’re tired of hearing this. I’m tired of hearing it, but it true. Water is known to improve your cognition, improve your mood, and lower inflammation. Which means, the more water you drink, the better you will feel.
  4.  Cut yourself some slack: I know that we have goals that we want to accomplish, but remember, it even took the Lord six days to make the universe, and He is a perfect supreme being. Accomplishing anything will take time and continuous effort. I have to remind myself of this daily, especially when I see other people who have blogs that are thriving and mines is…..

Having a chronic illness can definitely put a wrench in the plans, but it doesn’t have to damage our plans completely. Even if it isn’t blogging. Keep going, keep pushing, keep moving. Even if it’s one step forward, three steps back, you are still making progress.

I’ll be praying for your strength while chasing what you love. Thank for you reading words today. God bless each and every one of you. Please remember to pray for one another.

On the darkest days you have to search for a spot of brightness, on the coldest days you have to seek out a spot of warmth; on the bleakest days you have to keep your eyes onward and upward and on the saddest days you have to leave them open to let them cry. To then let them dry. To give them a chance to wash out the pain in order to see fresh and clear once again. -Tahereh Mafi

 

It’s All About Perception

It’s All About Perception

Good Day Friends!

Today I’m thinking about how we perceive certain things in our lives and how much perception makes a difference in whether or not we have a good day or a bad day. Sometimes, we are unable to avoid bad days, but overall, I believe perception determines whether we allow those bad days to control the decision we make.

I believe that one way we overcome life struggles is to perceive our struggles in a positive aspect. I see a lot of post about how changing our mindsets is important to achieve the goals that we have set for ourselves. Even God says that we have to renew our minds each day in order to live a more fulfilling life.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.  -Romans 12:2

I love how it says that God’s will for us is “good and pleasing and perfect”!

I used to think that being diagnosed with mental illness, lupus, and fibromyalgia was the worst thing that could have ever happened to me. I truly thought my life was over, but then I realized it was just the beginning. Changing my perception helped me to realize that I can use this new diagnosis to my advantage.

Changing our mindset or how we view our circumstances helps us forgive those who have hurt us, it helps us to accept our current situation; good or bad, it helps us to have courage to overcome future obstacles, and it helps us to let go and not sweat the small stuff and become more appreciative. Changing our perception also helps us have more faith in God; that He will deliver us from whatever is going on and like scripture says, it will be “good and pleasing and perfect”.

When I decided to change my perception, I asked God for His help and of course He came through with His promise of changing how I think. Fact of the matter is, God will pursue us. He will find ways to get our attention. He will allow things such as illness’ to get our attention so we can actively seek Him, so we can have a close relationship with Him.

He will use our struggles as a chance to get closer to us. God wants us to have a relationship with Him. He wants us to spend time with Him, just like a Father who wants to have a relationship with his children. His love is neither conditional nor passive. I believe God has used mental and physical illness to get my attention so He can have a close relationship with me. Let’s face it. When I was healthy, I really didn’t seek God. I wasn’t concerned with having relationship with Him. I was so wrapped up in my own life, only seeking what I wanted.

When He uses such things are illness’ to get our attention, God doesn’t just sit back and expect us to fight it alone. He fights for us!

The Lord is a warrior: Yahweh is his name. -Exodus 15:3

“Don’t be afraid. Just stand still ad watch the Lord rescue you today… The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” -Exodus 14:13,14

Truthfully speaking, my life has gotten better because of it. Why you ask? Since I’ve embraced that this is the current season in my life, it has inspired me to do the things that I’ve always wanted to do. For instance: I am unable to hold a full time job because of this condition. Since I cannot work, I am able to spend more time with my children. I am able to be at home with them more. I am able to connect with them more. I am able to put more time and effort into starting my own business. I am able to concentrate on starting and sustaining my writing career. And more important, I am able to help people by sharing my struggles and helping them overcome theirs. It truly is the best feeling.

Since my diagnosis, I’ve grown closer to God which is awesome! I feel His presence more and more. I feel His unconditional love like never before. I am able to appreciate life more. I am able to slow down and enjoy sunsets. I no longer desire death when I become overwhelmed. I no longer desire to give up. I’ve shed most of the pain that has been apart of me most of my life. I am free from shame, guilt, and condemnation from the enemy. I’ve been able to forgive and forget. I’m eating healthier and I’ve been motivated to work on my dreams.

My diagnosis has been the best worst thing that has happened to me. It has given me a testimony to share with others who are in same boat as I am.

When changing our perception, it is helpful to remember:

  • Gods love is faithful and good (Psalm 36:5)
  • All we have to do is slow down in our self-efforts and allow God to guide our steps (Psalm 37:23)
  • We are safe and secure in Gods love (Deuteronomy 33:27)
  • We are sheltered by His presence (Exodus 33:14)
  • Allow His knowledge to wash over us (Romans 1:19,20)

“Remember, it is not your weakness that will get in the way of Gods working through you, but your delusions of strength. His strength is made perfect is made perfect in our weakness! Point to His strength by being willing to admit your weakness.” -Paul David Tripp

Thank you all for reading my thoughts today. I pray that you all are having a wonderful day. As always, I appreciate everyone who takes the time out to support my blog. Please remember to pray for one another. God bless you!

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him. -Isaiah 64:4

 

The Horror’s of To-Do Lists

The Horror’s of To-Do Lists

Hey Friends,

The world says putting together a to-do list will cause you to be more productive. I would kind of agree with that, IF….to-do lists didn’t give me so much anxiety. Well let me be clear, it’s not the to-do list themselves that gives me anxiety. It’s the inability to complete it that’ll put my mind in a vice grip. There are a number of reasons why I am unable to get to a item on my to-do list, but the most frustrating reason is not being inspired to complete them.

For instance, when one is dealing with bipolar disorder and they are experiencing a “down moment” of depression, it’s hard to roll out of bed, let alone tackle a list of things that need to be done besides surviving the next 24 hours without having suicidal thoughts. Or what about just being emotionally drained from all of the things that require so much of your attention leading up to the due dates of said items on the to-do list.

Today, I just so happen to want to talk about to-do list because I have realized that they have been getting in the way of the most important relationship that in my life; God and I. Sometimes, I distract myself with piling things onto my to-do list, so I don’t have to focus on the things that I don’t want to deal with. But then, my to-do list will get so long, I’ll want to scream in frustration that there is too much to do. See my conundrum?

Then…after all of that, I will get so overwhelmed, I will begin to ignore my to-do list all together, but by this time, I’m far from God AND my to-do list. I’ve swam too far off shore without my safety net. I lost my focus on Christ and began focusing on what was in the water.

(by the way, I think this is God’s view of me when I’m freaking out over my to-do list)

What I’m learning now is that God doesn’t care about a to-do list. He cares about the things that we need to get done, but He doesn’t care that we have a list of things that need to get done before spending time with Him first. Why? Because He knows that we cannot do those task on our own, that we have to draw strength from Him and allow Him to walk alongside of us. Even if you consider it to be a small task. And the great part of the bargain is that He will give us peace and joy in our hearts when we tackle those pesky to-do rodents.

Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy

-Colossians 1:10-11

When we draw from Gods strength, He is able to carry us day after day after day rather than being burnt out from carrying our own burdens in our own strength day after day after day. Isn’t that a relief?

The only hard part is remembering that we don’t have to do it in our own strength…that He will joyfully take it upon Himself and carry it for us.

To-do lists’ can be helpful, but proceed with caution. Please don’t allow them to get in the way of things that are truly important. Love you guys. Thanks for reading my thoughts, or God’s thoughts, rather. Please remember to pray for one another. I pray you have a wonderful start to your week.

Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. -Isaiah 40:28-29,31 

Can I Trust God With My Children?

Can I Trust God With My Children?

Hey Friends,

Over the weekend, my family and I took family photos. It was only afterward I began to realize how much time has passed by since the last time we took them. We went through the normal hustle and bustle of making sure that everyone’s hair was properly in place, clothes were neatly ironed, and everyone was in high spirits to smile when the camera flashed.

While waiting for the photographer, I reflected back on how many times we’ve gone through this same process. Ultimately, it was the same process. Being a mom, I was in control of almost everything; hairstyles, outfits, poses, etc.

Now in 2019, this time was different. Now, the kids are older so they can make their own decisions. I can honestly say, that was the most difficult part for me; letting go of control.

For most of our kid’s lives, parents are in control of most of what our kids do (for their safety of course). What they eat. What they drink. What they wear (because it always looks so cute). What time they go to bed. Who their friends are. Even the kind of toys they play with. Where they go. But as they get older, those decisions become less about what we want and more about what they want.

Letting go of control is hard. My oldest will be thirteen this year and I’m afraid for her every day. I’ve made so many decisions for her, I’m afraid that she will have a hard time making the right decisions for herself. She is growing up in a world that is influenced by what everyone else is doing. She has unlimited access to information at her fingertips. She is book smart, but not street smart and that fear of her being taken advantage of is overwhelming at times.

I talk to God about this all of the time. He knows that I struggle with letting go and trusting Him with her completely. Like any other parent, I don’t want my kids to struggle. But I also have to remember that they to have to go through the fire to be refined and forged in order to become who God wants them to be. I’m also afraid that I won’t be able to handle whatever they go through in life. Selfish, right? I know, but it’s how I feel.

One day, they’ll get their heart broken if it hasn’t happened already. One day they’ll face a challenge and have no idea how to handle it. I pray that through my dedication to the Lord, they will follow suit and want to grow closer to him as well. I’m afraid that some of my decisions have damaged them for good. I’m afraid that some of my poor decisions have scarred them life. But I rest in the knowledge that God knows how to fix it. So although I’m afraid, I trust that God will see us through as a family and remove that fear. For it says in His Word:

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. -2 Timothy 1:7

God has been so good to me, to us. He has gotten us through some pretty rough times. He has proven to us over and over again that He will not leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). My kids may not see it, but one day they will.

The point that I am trying to make today is that I can no longer control my children. WE can no longer control our children. If we do, we will push them further away. I want my kids to spread their wings while keeping a close eye on them; watch them without them knowing I’m watching. 🙂

Right now, I am preparing my kids for the world. Teaching them the love that Christ Jesus has for us and being as honest as I can about the questions they have for this life. The rest is in God’s hand because He loves them way more than I ever could (and that says a lot because the love that I have for my kids is unconditional). So can you imagine how much He loves them?

He pulled me from the pits of hell. So what more could He do for them?

Father, I am choosing and committing right now to trust you with my children. You love them unconditionally and will do what is in their best interest. Father, you see the whole picture, not just what’s in front of You, like us mere mortals. Thank You, Father, for Your grace, love, mercy, and the gift of righteousness that will save them from the enemies lies. I love You with all of my mind, heart, and soul. Amen.

Here is our family photo from this weekend

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” -Romans‬ ‭5:6-8‬ ‭

 

 

Do I Lack Compassion?

Do I Lack Compassion?

Hey Friends,

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about compassion and how much I’ve lacked it over the years. I mean, in my opinion, I haven’t been an extremely judgemental person, but I have had moments where I would hear a rumor and “shake my head” at it, thinking to myself how much of a shame it is. I’ve been known to share rumors that we’re shared with me, shamefully. I’ve even gone as far as saying things like, “Well I would never…” or “They should have done…” or “Here’s what you did wrong”.

But then, when it came down to my own tragic moments, I would crawl in a little ball, afraid to share my story in fear that people would do the same to me what I have done to others; shame them. Essentially, projecting how I feel onto people, assuming they will share the same guilty, shameful feelings that I have about myself.

Through my journey, what I’m finding out is, God has a way of humbling us through our trials and tribulations. He gives us a choice. It is a wonderful gift of grace and mercy that He extends through the love of Jesus.

Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. -John 7:16
I’ve also found out that during my seasons of suffering, God shows me so much compassion (more than I deserve), therefore, I am able to show other’s more compassion when I learn that they have been through similar situations as I. See, if God isn’t expecting perfection from us, why are expecting it from other people?
I think God does this so we can love each other better. In Colossians 3:12, He states that “as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
Compassion is the key to truly loving one another through faults and flaws. We may not agree with each other’s decisions, but having compassion for one another through the difficult times will not only allow your heart to heal through your own darkness, but it will give God so much glory and honor. It will allow us to focus less on ourselves so we can extend the same amount of grace to other’s that God extends to us when our hearts feel like they have been through the garbage disposal a few times.
Usually, when we are busy pointing out the wrongs in other people, we are really pointing out what is wrong within ourselves. Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience are all acts that every human being would love to receive, but sometimes it’s so hard to give, especially when we’ve been hurt. But let’s all ask God to help us draw nearer to Him so we can show each other what He shows us without question or expectation.
Today, because of what I’ve gone through, especially in the past four years or so, I have more compassion for people, but I still have a long way to go. There are many times where I am convicted by the Holy Spirit because of something I have said or done to show that God is still working on me.
So I would like to pray for you and me; that God will no longer allow us to approach life with broken hearts, disappointments, cautious, and cynical attitudes. But instead soften our hearts so that we can be more compassionate, tender, grace-giving, and loving towards one another. I want to thank God for always meeting us right where we are in our brokenness, while not expecting more than we can give at the moment, but still loving us with His beautiful grace, love, and mercy. Thank you, God. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Holy Spirit.
Thank you for reading my thoughts today. I pray you are having a wonderful humpday. Please remember to pray for one another.
“Just as breaking bread with another hungry human feeds our bodies with nourishment; breaking secrecy with another hurting human feeds our souls with compassion.” -Lysa Terkeurst, It’s Not Suppose To Be This Way

February Monthly Theme: What Is Real Love?

February Monthly Theme: What Is Real Love?

Good Day Friends,

Valentines Day is coming up and most of us are preparing to share this special day with our loved one. As you may know, Valentines Day is one of the most expensive “holidays” celebrated in our culture. Even my own husband decided to spoil me with a new wedding ring to celebrate all that we have overcome these past few years in our marriage.

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Some people with equate love with today’s corporate America’s idea of what love is, but that couldn’t be furthest from the truth. People will spend thousands of dollars to make their loved ones happy with expensive jewelry, trips, shopping sprees, candy, flowers, etc.

I’m here to tell you, marriage itself is hard and it’s not what is portrayed on television or social media. You may experience loving moments, but a marriage relationship itself takes a lot of dedication, work, and a constant renewing of your mind as your marriage evolves in good and bad ways.

I truly believe that if most people knew beforehand how hard it is, many people wouldn’t go through with it. Divorce rates would be lower because when couples go through the rough times, they are prepared because it’s expected.

Society gives a false representation of marriage. You see it all over social media with hashtags about how a marriage should be. You’ll see a picture of a couple with matching outfits, big bright smiles at their perfect expensive wedding, bragging about how they never fight or how life is so grand. You may even see someone bragging about how their wife/husband bought them a brand new diamond ring with their birthstone on the sides *cough, cough*.

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Even the royal wedding seemed absolutely perfect.

What people don’t tell you is when you get married, it is very likely that you and your spouse are bringing some pretty heavy baggage with them; addiction, fear, shame, guilt, selfishness, heartbreak, childhood pain, and so on. This is unintentional of course. Most of the time, we are unaware that we are bringing that much baggage into our marriage. We think, “oh, I’ve gotten over my abuse” or “I’ve moved past being cheated on in my last relationship.” But then, we are triggered, thus causing a chain reaction of fights, slander, and separations.

For me, mental illness is under very large umbrella of baggage I’ve allowed myself to bring into my relationship with my husband. There are things that I thought I have “moved past” or “gotten over”, but has reared it’s ugly head during a manic episode. My husband knew that I struggled with mental illness, but the poor guy had no idea how much of a struggle it was and how much I’ve allowed it to control certain aspects of my life.

When my husband and I attended a marriage seminar back in April of last year, our instructor asked: “what percentage do you feel you would need to put into your relationship to make it work?” Every couple had the same answer; 50/50. Make sense right? Apparently, we were all wrong. The actual answer is 100/100.

Meaning, there are times when your spouse would have to put in 100% when you are unable to put in 0%. And there are times when you’ll have to put in 100% when your spouse is unable to put in 0%. And then, there are those moments when both of us are able to put in 100%. That is when things are absolutely great.

I believe when relationships fail, it’s because people feel like they are giving more than their spouse. And when they feel like they’re giving more, then they want to give less. And when their spouse sees’s that they’re giving less, then the spouse gives less, until both people are giving 0%, thus giving up completely.

There was a time that I wanted to break up because I was convinced that my husband would get fed up with dealing with my mental illness and leave me. I was giving maybe 20% effort into my marriage because giving my all was too scary.  But my husband continued to give 100%. He never gave up on me. He never stopped loving me. He was convinced that I would move past my insecurity and believe him when he said he would never leave me. If he would have given me what I was giving him, we would be divorced by now, but he didn’t. And I love him so much more for it.

There was also a time where my husband wasn’t able to give as much as he wanted to emotionally due to his past issues, but I continued to pray for him. I prayed to God that he would soften my husband’s heart and to help him to move past his issues and forgive those who trespassed against him. It was my unconditional love and willingness to give 100% when he was able to give 0%, that continues to make our marriage stronger than ever.

This is what God wants for us in our marriages; to love each other past the good times. Unconditional love means loving someone when they are unlovable, praying for someone even if they aren’t praying for you, and trusting God that He will pull you through the hard times of marriage because there is nothing we can do to avoid them.

Like Paul said in Roman 5:1-11, problems and trials build endurance, which builds strength of character which leads to hope of salvation. We are living in a broken, fallen world and one of the hard parts of living in such a broken world is not believing the lies that Satan try to feed us every minute of every day. One of those lies is that God cannot save your marriage. When God can fix anything. All you have to do is ask and be patient.

Marriage is a gift from God that should be taken seriously. It’s not something you can choose to walk away from because it doesn’t fit what YOU had planned. It is a contract that you are making with someone else and with God. I didn’t know that during my first marriage. I didn’t like what my first husband was doing, so I kicked him to the curb like he was a cheap suit.

Don’t do what I did. If you are thinking about getting married or currently married and going through a rough time, I would advise you to put God first in your marriage, and the rest will fall into place.

My husband and I have gone through some pretty rough times, but the good times make it all worth it. He and I are willing to sacrifice to conform to each other’s needs while accepting what we can’t change. Will we continue to make mistakes? Of course. Will we have another fight? Maybe, but having God in the center and loving each other as Jesus loves us will allow is to last til death do us part. This is love.

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I love you guys and thank you, thank you, thank you for reading this extremely long post. I tried to cut it down, but I couldn’t. So smooches to each one of you who had enough patience to read all of it. I pray that each one of you is having a great start to your week and please remember to pray for one another.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. -1 Corinthians 13: 4-7,13

Additional Scripture about Marriage and Relationships

Genesis 1:27-28: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’ ”

Malachi 2:14-15: “But you say, ‘Why does he not?’ Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.”

Isaiah 54:5: “For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.”

Song of Solomon 8:6-7: “Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the LORD. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised.”

Ephesians 4:2-3: “With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

Colossians 3:14: “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

Ecclesiastes 4:9: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?”

Ephesians 5:25: “For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her.”

Genesis 2:24: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

Ecclesiastes 4:12: “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Mark 10:9: “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Ephesians 5:25-33: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, …”

Hebrews 10:24-25: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Proverbs 30:18-19: “There are three things that amaze me—no, four things that I don’t understand: how an eagle glides through the sky, how a snake slithers on a rock, how a ship navigates the ocean, how a man loves a woman.”

1 John 4:12: “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

Proverbs 31:10: “Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.”

Ruth 1:16-17: “Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me.”

Romans 12:10: “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”

1 Peter 4:8: “Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.”

Ephesians 5:21: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

Ephesians 4:32: “Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”

Genesis 2:18–25: “Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’ … So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.”

1 Peter 3:7: “In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.”