Dear Elizabeth

As you prepare for your new role as “wife” let me quickly suggest you don’t wear your hair half up on your wedding day. Put it all up. It just doesn’t look right in pictures. Also, ignore Chris when he wants to leave the reception 30 minutes after it starts. Clean the cake off your face he rudely smashed everywhere, and enjoy your day.

Anywho, you, my friend, are blissfully ignorant. In fact, rose colored glasses don’t even begin to describe how nieve you are. You will scream and curse at your husband frequently, and on occasion, become physically aggressive. Your inability to control this other person will deepen your own insecurities and make you think that anything you do will ever change your husband. The movies, your friends, and the internet will tell you if you lose weight, let him have more guy time, cook or clean more that suddenly your relationship will rain sunshine and sugar cookies. This is all lies.

You’ll spend several years feeling inferior because of your salary, your sheltered view of the world around you, and frequent lack of common sense. You’ll allow yourself to be defined by mistakes of your past and try futile attempts to be your version of good enough for your husband. Logging miles on the treadmill and pushing yourself on the bench press will only remind you that though you’re naturally athletic, you don’t possess the mental discipline to stick with any fitness plan. Scouring cookbooks for new recipes only to substitute vinegar for cooking wine will yield the worst Chicken Piccata ever served-but your husband will eat it and thank you for the meal. You’ll compare your career in Social Work to those women who are climbing the corporate ladder with your man and decide your heart to serve and love others is inferior to creating Excel documents.

I know right now this sounds ridiculous because you have a large group of friends that are the opposite sex but hear me when I say, “Do not be alone with another man.” Though this is pretty out of left field, just trust me. This includes while at work behind closed doors. This includes dinner. This includes shopping. Your intentions are likely pure but Satan is sneaky and you possess the ability to be gullible and think simply loving your husband is enough to keep you from wondering “what if” about anyone else. The boundaries you set with other men will speak loudly to those around you of your awareness that sin does not discriminate. That you are just as likely to fall prey to the sweet-sounding words offered by a man as anyone else. You are not above temptation but you are capable of limiting those possibilities.

When you say “divorce isn’t an option” don’t throw it around as a threat in your arguments. If it’s not an option then it’s simply not. It doesn’t matter how sad, mad, irritated, embarrassed, frustrated you are. It is not  an option. Not funny. (Side note: you’ll be the only one who throws that phrase around. Chris is a man of his word. Kiss him for that. A few times.)

 

Despite the sub-par view you have of yourself, your husband will continue to validate and encourage you. It won’t be enough. Regardless of the amount of positive reinforcement you’ll get from those around you, you’ll continue in a works based system of approval, directly correlating any good that happens to something nice you’ve done for another. This warped mindset of love and acceptance will continue as you grow into your position in motherhood.

At some point you’ll grow up and realize that because of your short comings, not despite them, you are in a position to speak boldly about the transforming power of Christ. The anger and control issues you struggle with will be a thorn in your flesh, one you constantly battle and frequently ask forgiveness for. You’ll begin to grapple with the concept of abounding grace and new mercies. The sin nature you were born with will not control or define you. Because of Christ alone you’re not defined by that.

The man you married is one of noble character. One whose dedication to his faith, family, and profession is strong. The man you married is also flawed, he can be selfish and is extremely strong-willed. Together your ability to face conflict will become one of your strong points because of the frequency you’re working through it. Eventually you’ll stop storming out of the house and packing bags as if you really have somewhere to go. Stay your butt at home, work it out, and move on. Put on your big girl pants, own your feelings and humble yourself.

Trust me when I say you’ll be far more comfortable in your skin when you’re a size 10 and not a 4. You’ll see your creativity in the kitchen as a way to bless and serve others, not as a way to build your self esteem. Your commitment to your husband will be the strongest asset you bring to your family.You will create an environment for your children that lets them know that when their mom and dad made a covenant vow in front of God and their family-and sticking to it-it meant something. You will be consistent in your discipline of your children-frequently working through teachable moments but often out of anger. These opportunities to ask for forgiveness and model tangible examples of Christ’s grace and mercy will be infinitely more valuable to their character shaping then pretending you’re a perfect Mama.

Enjoy this life you’re creating with this wonderful man. Cuddle your babies just a little longer. Take naps with them. Wake up early and have some tea and a stroopwafel and just thank Jesus that you’re exactly where you are. Watch a movie on the couch with your husband (falling asleep doesn’t count.) Call your girlfriends–you’re a grown woman, Facebook is not a substitute. Don’t forget the importance of initiating conflict resolution and assuming the best in others. You’ve got a journey ahead of you, girlfriend, I suggest you slap on some lip gloss and bring a latte for good measure. You’ll need the energy to handle the beautiful, beautiful chaos.

 

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