Dear Future Husband

If you know me well, then it probably does not surprise you that Meghan Trainor’s pop songs are frequently played tracks in my music library. (scroll down to continue reading post and/or play video for context)

 If you are new here, you should know my love of girl-pop runs deep.(along with my love of show tunes, oldies, and 90s country..but that is for another post.)   And more specific than female led pop songs, I sure do love a girl power pop anthem. (And I don’t discriminate. It could be a one hit wonder or a time tested classic.)

But at the risk of being a total buzz kill, I can’t help but question the attitude so many female pop songs project about what they expect from their man.  The running theme goes something like this: the female is always right, the female deserves everything she wants, and the male is entirely responsible for her happiness.  The female demands it, but the male gets little to no attention, love, or respect. 

 It’s easy to bash a man for chauvinism, but are we ladies holding ourselves accountable for what we do and say? And moreover, is there an attitude of our hearts that we perhaps need to examine? This may be tough to detect at first glance, but I think considering the natural state of our hearts, it is possible that we have some work to do on ourselves.   

 Dating is brutal. 

 My married friends have taught me a lot. (I wrote about those lessons here.) 

 But, between regulating the amount of food you can consume based on the elasticity of your Spanx ANNNND conducting a detailed Google person search between Tinder swipes, it can be a lot to manage.  So I have heard.

Are we making it even harder on ourselves by thinking too much of ourselves to begin with? Before making demands on our men, we must first consider: What is our identity, and more importantly, WHO is our identity in?

 I hope that as I near my 32nd birthday next month(September 26, I’m coming for ya!) that I have learned a few things.  Just a few, so let’s not get carried away. 

 So, I am joining Meghan, and penning my own letter to ‘future husband.’  A letter that is less of what I expect from him, but more of a prayer and hope of what he can expect from me. 

 Dear future husband,
Here's a few things
You'll need to know if you wanna be
My one and only all my life…..

 I LOVE YOU.  No really, if you are my husband, that means we have both committed to each other forever-eveh, so like, you are badass. And hot.  I think you are totally hot.  This is the part where I could potential break into a Salt 'N' Peppa sampling of Whatta man.

 You have been in my prayers for many years, future husband. Many of those prayers have been super self serving and totally dramatic..i.e.: 

 “Dear God, please send husband.  Don’t let me die alone, only to be discovered a year later after my seventy- five cats have feasted on my decomposed body.  In Jesus name. ”

 But not all have… I pray that your first love is God.  And not in an undefined and super generalized way.  No.  I pray that your first and deepest desire is to follow Jesus as your Lord and Savior.  Not genie wish granter Jesus, not the get out of Hell for free because I read a track Jesus, and definitely not the impersonal flowery Hallmark card Jesus.  No.  I pray you know the Jesus that invites you into a relationship that guides and directs your every move.  The Jesus, who is the Son of God, and points you to the Father everyday.  The Jesus who lavishes you with grace, and restores you with His sacrificial love. 

 Next, you will be married to a sinner.  Expect that from me.  I will come with selfishness, pride, and jealousy—just to name a few.  I am just as desperate for a Redeemer as you.  My prayer is that we will continually point each other, as Jesus is pointing us, to our Heavenly Father.  I will naturally look to you to and things other than God to give me my worth.  But I will seek and pray to not put this responsibility on you.  I want you to know that my identity is independent of you.  Who I am stems from the woman God created and redeemed.  I am first the daughter of a King:

 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body.  So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. (Colossians 2:6-7, 9-10)

 But this in no way diminishes who we are together. In fact, it is a bonus.  The covenant we share under God is for His glory and our identity in Him can be shown through our marriage, future husband.  We may no longer be ‘single’ but our identity and mission should not change. 

I don’t hide my crazy.  And I hope you do not either.  The last several years have been a shifting and reshaping in my life that includes drawing back the curtain on me. There have been times when I desperately tried to play a part I thought I was suppose to play, future husband.  But that only leaves us empty, right?  And definitely is not a course for discovering true identity.  Messy is not pretty at first glance, and it has had a history of alerting ever bell and whistle in my body to “GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT!” I have often been so anxious to keep the ‘man behind the curtain’ that I failed to see what was really there.  In myself. And in others.  I am learning to just “give it a minute” though.  And when I do, it’s amazing how that ‘messy’ can suddenly look more like authenticity.  And wow, that is a beautiful thing.

 And this feels like the best time to go ahead and let you know my entire family falls under this ‘mess’ category too. But this is how we handle it, just so you are not surprised:

 Future husband, I do not know if you knew my dad or not.  I talk about him a lot and often in present terms as though he is still alive.  And then sometimes I never talk about him or rather, my words are harsh, resentful, and angry.  I adored my father, and our relationship was very special.  Future husband, I actually always dreamed of this song playing at our wedding during the ceremony or reception…I was never sure.

 I will never get over his death, and his suicide will leave me with traces of confusion, doubt, and heartache. But you are my person. And you are my today and forever.

 Future husband, I think Meghan and I are on the same wavelength with this next expectation:

 “You got that 9 to 5
But, baby, so do I
So don't be thinking I'll be home and baking apple pies
I never learned to cook
But I can write a hook
Sing along with me
Sing-sing along with me”

 Cooking in the kitchen is not one of my strengths.  It is not a skill I have spent time developing, and to be quite honest, I am really okay with that.  While some prayers concerning you have included specific request that you are on Chef’s Table or a season winner of Top Chef,  I understand you may be coming to this with no better skills than I.  So if that is the case, here is the expectation: Let’s try and make each other better. Loving someone has to be selfless.  I can’t just expect you to “take me as I am.”okay maybe on the cooking,

but let’s broaden the point, shall we?

 What is love?

 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. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

 Love must be selfless and must be in motion.  It can’t just stay. God’s spirit in us is active, and we are made to be constantly changing.   

 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)

  @@So let’s love each other into the people God created us to be.@@  

I want you to challenge me to push onward and upward.  And I want to do the same for you.  This love may look like me cooking up your favorite dinner(doubtful, but hey aprons can be fun! Yeah I said that.) But this love, I expect, will also encourage you to challenge me to live as my best self: the woman God created me to be.  That may look like you reminding me that I actually feel more like myself and love life more when I run or workout.

 And, future husband, the hard times will come…we know that.  Heck, hard times do not wait for marriage, we know that well too.  I do not know who you are.  We may have already met or you may be on down that yellow brick road I am on, and I just haven’t caught up to meet you yet.  Remember, I take the long way. 

I love you already, future husband.  Oh and one more expectation: there will be lots of singing.

Yours,

Dorothy

 

Or there may be no future husband at all.  And that is okay, y’all! Seriously, that is OK!! If we accurately determine where or WHO our identity comes from, then we can live as women with unshaking worth and value.  This inner rest and confidence yields a whole lot of peace and joy.  The completeness we crave in this unsettled life will be filled by God in eternal restoration, but He invites us to live more settled with our Home in Him today!

 Let’s get at it!

 

 

 



Living(and writing) a good story during a season of 'Becoming'

“1800 more steps.” My friend, Belinda, is tracking her steps as part of her daily exercise regime. The distance needed to reach her daily goal often dictates her evening route.  It’s a wonderful treat having a best friend move within walking distance of the bachelorette bungalow.  It is even better that Greenville is truly showing off right now with this perfect spring into summer season.  The air is warm, but there is still just enough breeze to mask the hot sticky humidity we know is coming.  Neighbors are in their yards, children are riding bikes, downtown is bustling, and the flowers are still in bloom.  It has quickly become a ‘thing’ for our routes to converge during our individual runs. We unite for the final steps and talk about the things best friends talk about: what we are binge watching on Netflix, unrequited love, and how many ‘steps’  it takes to get to Blueberry Frog.  

We noticed a street that was unfamiliar yet inviting.   We made the turn and preceded up the picturesque street.  Greenville is charming that way.  Always warmly inviting us in to discover it’s historic treasures as well as it’s new attractions.  (Just last night Belinda noticed a tiny public park sign with a tree lined pathway between two homes.  Needing more steps, we followed the trail and discovered a small hidden park nestled behind a row of homes.  What a sweet surprise! And just a few blocks from the BB.  )

As we rounded the cul de sac --Belinda pointed out the whimsical mailbox.  At closer look, we confirmed it was a 'little library.'  She knew about these because her own street has one.  Yes, a public cubby, a book shelf of sorts(complete with walls, a door, and roof) to take and leave books.  Inside the little library were a good many books of all different genres.  On this ‘Father of the Bride-esque’ street stood a box , filled with stories and people, of all different worlds.  And they were free to be shared with anyone who passed by.  

'The little library' 

Yesterday I glanced over to see a new structure on my own Greenville city street.  It was a box perched high on a post with a small door.  Painted in the happiest shade of sky blue, little Biltmore Drive now housed our own ‘Little Library.’  Oh! Oh! This is divine! Ha!!! But really! Again, inside there was a collection of books, all filled with different people, stories, experiences, and worlds.  Right outside my bachelorette bungalow door.  

I always liked books as a child.  (Fact: I like the Concord Book Fair better. The book fair sold bookmarks, stickers, and magazines.  I have always been drawn to ‘accessories.’)  Still, my mother jokes that I would often bring books and papers around insisting that I had “books to read, home work to do, and projects to attend to”-- despite being in pre- school.  (I wanted to fit in with my older brothers, who actually did have those things to do.  Apparently I was a little liar. Fact: children are not innocent. But this is not a blog on total depravity so I digress. ) 

Soon enough, I devoured the American Girl books, and I was thrilled when the assigned book reports at school were required to be biographies.  Reluctantly accepting that my mother’s Kathy Lee Gifford memoir or Erma Bombeck collection would not suffice(nor were they true biographies-I know English teachers), I decided upon a book about the life of First Lady Dolly Madison for my second grade assignment.  She had style and pretty curls on the book insert picture(my criteria apparently was, in fact, ‘judging a book by it’s cover’), but I quickly learned she was so much more than a ‘pretty American royalty’ face.  She had the style and grace we love about our First Ladies, but she had strength under pressure.  When escaping from a huge fire at the White House, Dolly is credited with saving the portrait of George Washington. She lived with poise at the top of  society and kept that same spirit even when she came to know desperate poverty.  Her guts and gumption have always stuck with me. (Full disclosure: Reports have since contradicted the fire story, but the woman I read about when I was seven, was solidified in my mind as ‘really awesome.’)

My reading habits and preference of material has evolved over the years, but what I am learning about myself is that I have always loved the stories of real people.  This did not always present itself in great choices for reading and along the way as I have been known to line my shelves with celebrity magazines, and reality TV star memoirs.  My friends had progressed to Lewis and Tolkien, and I was sheepishly reading Ivanka Trump’s book.  More than once, my well read friends Erin and Travis have graciously loaned me ‘big sturdy books, big wordy books.’ I almost always get distracted by something like The Pioneer Woman’s memoir about her romance with Marlboro Man. 

Another bookish friend Megan, who patiently awaited years ago for me to finish Atlas Shrugged(I finally took it off my nightstand because I was sick of dusting it) recommended I read Wild.  Cheryl Strayed’s words cut straight to my gut.  She told the story of her life, and I got a real peek and view of another human’s journey.  She chronicled her grief following her beloved mother’s death with no fear of tidying it up for the reader.  She was awakened to the strength, perseverance, and fierce love her mother had for her.  I feel a similar awakening in myself regarding my own beloved mother.  Tears streamed down my face reading the book as Strayed  recounted the chain reaction as things fall apart after.  Hearts broken. Relationships abandoned. And souls crushed under confusion.  She was speaking directly to me.  She reflected on her childhood with honesty but grace, and I connected because she was not just telling her story or my story, she was telling our story.  Yours and mine.  We are drawn to the experiences of ‘us.’  

In the story I am telling, it has been eight months since my father took his own life.  Eight months since He violently ended his own story on this side of Heaven.  Determined that his suicide not define me, I will not deny or mask that it has completely eradicated everything I knew to be about my own life and story that is unfolding.  His death was not the end of a chapter in my life or a small subplot. (Yep, I’m doing obvious and cheesy literature references. ) He may have wanted His death to mark ‘the end’ but in reality it was a beginning.  Not one I would have ever chosen, but it is only through death that something can be resurrected. I began writing publically in 2005, and I have always sought to only tell my story.  I don’t have the right to tell anyone else’s than my own.  Now, more than ever, it is my mission to share the story God is telling in my heart.  Not my dad’s story(he has one), my mom’s(she has one) or anyone else’s.  (You, too, have one.) And they are all valid.  They are all messy. And they are all capable of redemption.  

I have always wanted my story, the one I live and the one I tell be like the cover of Dolly’s biography: stylish and pretty. But the real story, the one in my gut, is filled with bent up and torn pages, conflicting accounts, and ever changing perspective that shift the feelings in my soul. But I don’t doubt that that is where the Great Author does His best character development. 

“But then I will win her back once again.
    I will lead her into the desert
    and speak tenderly to her there.
 I will return her vineyards to her
    and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope.
She will give herself to me there,
    as she did long ago when she was young,
    when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt.” Hosea 2:14-15(NLT)

He does not leave my story(or yours) unfinished in the desert. I like how the ESV translation calls it a ‘wilderness.’  Shauna Niequist speaks so well to where I am today, “There is a season for wildness and a season for settledness, and this is neither. This season is about becoming."  This spring into summer season, the season where I am pen to page most everyday, is about becoming.  I do not have answers, and I am not actually searching for them.  I am, however, relinquishing control and remembering the part of my story that will never change:

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:4-10 (ESV)

So as the plot thickens so to speak, and I write, edit, and write some more for my book, I, too, am going to enjoy this season of becoming. Becoming a woman who enjoys the cookie dough topping while she is eating it, as well as when she looks in the mirror the next day. Becoming a woman who lives in the present instead of analyzing the ‘what ifs’ and ‘worst case scenarios.’  Becoming a woman who cares less about what people think and more about renewing her own mind.  Becoming a woman who acts out of inner and peaceful confidence-- not a girl who acts out of fear, insecurity and anxiety.  Becoming a woman who does not merely trust feelings but is firm in truth.  Becoming a woman who believes, deep down to her aging bones, that her identity is in Christ alone and the story He has invited her into will most definitely be one where she lives happily ever after (with Him.) 

 

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”-F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby.