life of faith

taking baby steps & leaps & everything in between

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Don’t Compare: We Serve a Very Personal God

Read this today and thought it was too significant not to share…

In the gospel of Mark, Jesus heals the same affliction (blindness) in different ways. One person’s healing involves spit and gradual clarity, while another’s healing comes instantaneously through Jesus’s words (Mark 8:22-26, 10:46-52).

The Daily Walk Bible draws out:

“…Why the different approaches to healing? Most likely it was because Jesus’ methods were often tailor-made to the individual’s needs.

So it is with spiritual lessons God wants to teach us. God may teach your friend to depend on him through financial problems; you learn the same lesson through an illness. Another Christian learns to walk by faith in affluence; you learn it in poverty. One person learns patience through being single; another learns it through being married and having children. In each case, it is dangerous to compare – rather than commit to – God’s perfect curriculum.”

Another reason why comparison is unhealthy – even (and especially) among our Christian walks. Each person is different and God uses & teaches each person differently. One is not better than the other.

There’s another instance in Mark where a man who had just been healed from thousands of demons wants to follow Jesus, and Jesus tells him instead to “go home” and tell his family what God did for him (Mark 5:18-20). It may seem like being Jesus’ disciple was the more “glamorous” of the two options, but God had other plans for this healed man and his community that were just as important and meaningful.

I hope God will continue to teach me this lesson because I am so guilty of comparing myself to others, and also of being hurt or offended when I sense that people don’t fully approve of my life or my decisions.

I have to say, comparison can even be a problem in marriage. Dayne’s and my spiritual walks are not the same; we don’t learn the same way or grow the same way, and we’re not called to all the same things. We’re different people. For some reason, this has been more of a struggle for me to accept than for Dayne. I keep wanting us to always be on the same page, which is just impossible and a bit ridiculous.

Why does comparison steal our joy? Because we were created and designed to live our lives, not anybody else’s.


Where Have I/We Been?

This blog almost died. In fact, if it weren’t for me having today off of work, this blog would definitely be in the ICU. I’d love to tell you I haven’t written because I am busy and life has gotten in the way, or because until now, our contract on the house we’re buying hasn’t been finalized, or that we are just so happy that I have no time in the midst of our newlywed bliss to sit down in front of my computer and write a blog post.

The truth is that I have been struggling with major depression and anxiety. I haven’t been able to focus on any one thing, I haven’t had an optimistic outlook on anything, I have been crying more than I think is healthy, and for the life of me I haven’t been able to figure out life. Over the past few weeks, this mood monster has driven me away from people and hobbies and activities into desperate isolation. I have had racing thoughts, stomachaches, tearfulness, and the inability to order things in my head.

Something I tried blogging about several times but never published was my worry that these huge mood swings and lack of control over my thoughts and feelings were related to birth control pills. I have been consistently on hormonal birth control for about 15 years. When we got married, I got very serious about staying on them and taking them regularly. Since then, I noticed increasing anxiety, more frequent tremendous, foggy bad moods with no source, and spontaneous irritability, among other things. There are days when I feel incredibly, deeply depressed for no reason, and there are days (like a couple of Sundays ago) when I have anxiety attacks that last hours.

I was genuinely worried about leaving the house. I could find a reason to be fearful of anything, and I often dwelled on those fears so much that I couldn’t enjoy anything.

I’m talking in the past tense because this past week, I decided to take control of my health: mind and body. I talked with my OB-GYN for years about going off of birth control with little feedback or support. After doing my own research and talking with many women, I started to believe that those little pills of hormones may be the root of my wacky, out-of-nowhere moods. I was genuinely tired of not being happy or enjoying anything, and freaking out about my job and marriage and how overwhelming life felt all the time.

So… two weeks ago when I was on the “no-pill” week, I re-filled my prescription just in case, and I made two appointments: one with my doctor and one with a therapist. To my great relief, my doctor completely supported my decision to go off of birth control pills, telling me my beliefs were not unfounded and that he thought, if I was ready for it, it was a good idea to stop taking them. He also suggested some possible solutions to my anxiety through medicine, which I am not quite ready for but happy to learn about.

I am waiting to be matched with a therapist through a local counseling service after my evaluation last week, which went well. I am confident that therapy is really going to help me sort through any lingering fears or bouts of depression.

In the meantime, though, I have been off of birth control for over a week and I feel incredibly different. One factor that may be playing a role is my extended Easter break from work, but I feel like myself again. If I am upset, I know why. I don’t feel overwhelmed by my to-do lists. I can choose to spend time with Dayne and put tasks aside, and I have regained the ability to pick my battles. I actually have been wanting to leave the house and looking forward to activities with my spouse and other people. Just because I have the day off today and I am alone hasn’t made me feel sad and lonely, but rather excited to read, catch up on some household tasks, write in my blog again, and maybe even get to other projects I don’t usually have the time for.

Today, I wanted to write in my blog and be honest. Everything is not perfect, and I haven’t been able to write for weeks because I haven’t been able to get my thought life or emotions together. Now that this entry is out of the way, I am hoping to have the freedom and time to write about our journey to our new house, our current phase of marriage, what I’m learning from my daily walk in the Bible, and other happenings of life. It feels like I have thrown a huge weight off my shoulders, and I am optimistic for what is to come.


He Said/She Said – New Year’s Edition

I’ve been wanting to do another His & Hers for a while now, since we both enjoyed writing the first one, and we heard that our readers enjoyed it. 😉 I had written one up for Christmas, but since Christmas is over and ours was so crazy, I figured a retrospective/future perspective New Year’s Eve one was even better!

We have plans to celebrate New Year’s Eve tonight with some of our closest friends – Molly & Doug, Amy & Omar, and Megan. Some delicious food, fun games, and lots of laughter are on the way!

We also got to visit Katie & Burt in Delaware yesterday, and finally meet their baby boy, Ben! What a treasure he is 🙂

Baby Ben chillin' with Dayne!

I especially love hanging out with other peoples’ babies, since we’re not quite ready to have our own! It was very fun to be able to spend time catching up with Katie & Burt and snuggling with Ben yesterday.

Now, read on for our 2nd Official His & Hers

Again, according to the unofficial rules of “He Said/She Said”, we answered these questions completely separately, but we did do some post-editing afterwards, mostly for grammar and length.

Looking back, what has been the best thing about 2011?
Getting married of course!  I say that because I have to say that.  Actually, I’d say “Getting Married” is pretty far down on the list, but “Being Married” is number 1.  There is a big difference between the two.  One was a lot of planning (by Lisa) and a lot of stress in general, while the other has been super fun.
Lisa: Obviously, getting married was the overall best thing about 2011. I also think I grew a lot personally and spiritually this year, possibly more than any other year of my life. I feel like an entirely different person than I was in the beginning of 2011 – a little bit more complete and whole (not because of Dayne “completing me”, but because of what I’ve learned and experienced).

What have been some of the more difficult things about 2011?
Being Married.  As we say to anyone that asks us how it feels to be married, the first few months were difficult.  I can’t even tell you what it was though – just that there seemed to always be something that didn’t seem to click between us.  The first day back after the honeymoon we were fighting about something (that day it was the fact that I felt the kitchen counter was cluttered – which to be honest, was a stupid argument on my part).  It went on like that a lot with little things coming up that were borderline petty, but for some reason, we both felt very strongly about.  I think it was mostly just getting accustomed to not always being able to make our own decisions.  For me, it’s difficult trying to make a joint decision about something small.
Lisa:  Some of the difficult things of 2011 were the job transitions I went through (nannying to innkeeping to receptionist-ing) – none of them were easy, though they went smoothly. My engagement was not the easiest thing, due to a number of factors; I struggled with major anxiety and panic attacks throughout at least half of our engagement that had nothing to do with my relationship with Dayne. Then there was the baseline anxiety of losing my identity. Getting married is psychologically very scary, even though it is incredibly exciting and good! One of the hardest things about 2011 has been letting go – some friendships have not lasted through all the changes, and I also truly miss the little girls I nannied. Thankfully, I still see the girls every once in a while.

What are some of your favorite memories of 2011?
It was two things, Aruba and the wedding ceremony, in that order.  I might get in trouble for saying that, but I have to say that I have never felt as relaxed as I did on our honeymoon.  The wedding ceremony is number two because it was a big change in our lives and I thought our wedding was great (I may be biased though).
Lisa: Some of my favorite memories: every major event associated with our engagement and wedding, from Dayne’s proposal to my bridal shower to my bachelorette party to our rehearsal & dinner to the big day itself and then our amazing honeymoon.
My friendship with Erica got stronger through the whole process, and I realized very clearly how meaningful my relationship with her is.
I also loved the college girls’ reunion I had with Megan and Molly and Amy this fall! I love them and am so thankful they’re in my life, and that we can have so much fun when we’re together.

What did you learn in 2011?
 Patience.  Lisa usually gets a thought into her head on a topic, and sometimes, reason doesn’t seem to filter through to her.  While this is frustrating for me, it also has taught me to slow down my explanations on things and attempt multiple ways of explaining what’s going through my head.
Lisa: I learned what is my responsibility and what’s not – although I still have trouble with this. I can’t be everything to everyone, and sometimes it’s better to step away or let go.
I learned what it’s like to live in marriage with someone… and that it is truly difficult as well as beyond rewarding.
I learned (again) how very patient God is and how much grace He extends to us. I am learning that He is in control all the time and working things out for His good purpose, even when we can’t see or understand what He’s doing.

What do you hope to accomplish in 2012?
I don’t really look too far ahead, so I don’t really have any things that I specifically want to accomplish.  I think I want to be more conscientious about my free time.  I enjoy playing video games, and I’m not planning on stopping that, but I would like to read more and do more side coding [Lisa’s note: “side coding” means programming; Dayne is a software developer.].  Also, I think I’d have more energy during the week if I was physically active, which I should work on.
Lisa: I hope we get a house in 2012. I hope I get better at my job and possibly get promoted (although I’m fine staying in my position indefinitely). I hope I get better at something – whether it’s writing or fitness or a new hobby. I hope I also get better at loving others (including Dayne) more than myself.
Oh, I also hope we’re able to set a good foundation for our family financially – that we are able to save and give abundantly.

What do you foresee being some of the biggest challenges in 2012?
Dayne: Buying a house. This just worries me because Lisa and I aren’t the best at making huge decisions like this together.  I think we both see it as a big investment and form our own opinions.  When we then talk it over, we both are trying to convince the other one that we are right when we should simply be working together through the process.
Also, budgeting.  I enjoy the process, but Lisa has a more difficult time seeing it in practice.  I just hope that I can be patient and Lisa keeps an open mind.
Lisa: I think house hunting and our finances will be a challenge for us. I think as we get more involved with our church, there will be challenges associated with that (just because Satan doesn’t like spiritual growth).
I think growing in our marriage will be a challenge, as well as sorting out how to embrace our differences and be sure that each of us is growing and happy. Figuring out how to make our marriage a priority as well as our family and friends… that will continue to be tough!

In what ways do you want your marriage to grow in 2012?
I want us to read more together; we had started a couples book, but only read one chapter together.  I think we can do better on that.  I do think that reading is more on my side than on Lisa’s though since I believe she’d be ready to read together if I just said the word.
Lisa: I think the biggest thing for our marriage at the forefront of my mind right now is that we need to set aside quality time with each other. We need to make date nights a priority, and try to do new things at least once or twice a month so our relationship doesn’t get stale.
I also want us to get better at communicating, and it would be great for us to spiritually grow more together – maybe doing more devotionals or praying more together. I am really looking forward to joining a couples’ small group this year.

In what ways do you want your relationship with God to grow in 2012?
I don’t know for sure, but I am very excited about our new church and I can’t wait to see how our involvement in it enables us to grow.
Lisa: I am really looking forward to digging into the Bible in 2012. I expect that will change my relationship with God in many ways. I would like to see myself become more intimate with and dependent on Him. I’d like to trust Him more and not struggle with anxiety and worry as much as I currently do. I’d like to naturally seek Him in prayer before I make decisions. I’d overall like to see myself become more consistent in my relationship with Him.

In what ways do you want to grow personally in 2012?
I’m 5’10” right now, I’m praying for 5’11” by the end of 2012.
Lisa: Oh man. This is a doozy. I want to become more patient and extend more grace, especially to Dayne. I want to be less of a people-pleaser, because in a lot of ways it is unhealthy and rooted in deep insecurity. I want to know myself and my own boundaries better.
I want to write more and grow in a hobby or skill, even if it’s just cooking more recipes and using better techniques.
I want to become better at accepting loss or change. I’d like to experience freedom in that.

If you were to make any additional New Year’s Resolutions, what would they be?
 I don’t make resolutions because I know better than to believe that I’ll keep them.  Why lie to myself?
Lisa: Um, I would like to get fit. I feel disgusting. This job is the most sedentary job I’ve ever had, and it makes me feel like a huge, mushy baked potato. I need to at least start walking regularly, if not getting involved in yoga/pilates or running. I also need to overcome my fear of having a heart attack mid-workout and just pin some emergency information on my shirt or something (I have heart palpitations and chest pain at random times – I’m told it’s benign, but it’s uncomfortable and scary… hence my fear of dying on the treadmill).
It would also be nice to use our Wii Fit more often, since we have it!

What are you looking forward to in 2012?
The Mayan New Year.
Lisa: I’m looking forward to a big trip for our first anniversary, and our first house (hopefully), and getting more involved at our new church, and growing friendships with new and old people! I’m looking forward to experiencing more of our marriage as it gets deeper and stronger. I’m looking forward to having a better, more holistic knowledge of the Bible! And I’m looking forward to some new experiences and traveling more. And Dayne promised me a puppy by Christmas 2012.