Since I’ve been dating the same guy for 8 years, I definitely have this whole relationship thing figured out— HA I wish.
To be honest, although I am beyond grateful I have gotten to learn how to love deeply and selflessly and light-heartedly beside Jack for the last 8 years, I often find myself asking, “Are we doing this thing, right?” And you know what I have found? Often just the simple answer of, “Well are you loving out of your own ability or out of Christ love for you?” And yeah, that looks really different for each couple and each season, sometimes it is hard and complicated but oh so sweet to fight for, other times it looks like belly laughs and staying up late with your best bud that doubles as your husband, but Jesus has to be in it and around it at all times for it to work.
So here we are, eight years down the road from that awkward conversation Jack and I had in yearbook class where he basically asked in a whisper, “Would you wanna, like, go out with me?” Although, I will never pretend to have things figured out, I will always and gladly share our story— So on our 8 year dating anniversary I thought I would jot down what I have learned in each season of our story. For you, maybe, but maybe mostly for me.
High School: Don’t overthink it.
If I had overthought things I would have never given Jackson a chance. He was younger than me, sillier than I thought I wanted, had nothing in common with the “it guy” I had dreamed up. To put it lightly, I had majorly friend-zoned him— in denial that he could have feelings for me. But! By the grace of God, it crossed my mind that at the very least, dating Jackson Graessle, would be a whole lot of fun, and in that season of life I needed the sweet reminder of what an impact a light-heart could have. So I gave him a chance and here we are.
All that to say, I think a lot of high-schoolers make dating a make or break thing. Your identity becomes a relationship status, and if someone doesn’t check all your boxes they are considered an outcast in your life— drama central. Don’t get caught in the drama, walk toward the true lover of your heart, aka Jesus, and if a guy starts walking next to you, then hey: maybe you should give him a chance. ‘Cause you know what, I think some of His sweetest gifts come in the most inconspicuous packages.
College: Yo, You don’t have to choose between friends and a boyfriend!
I am so so so thankful that Jack and I were on the same page from the very beginning, on friendships. First and foremost our relationship was built on friendship with each other and with Christ and then came all the gushy stuff. So welcoming others into that friendship was no big deal. We were able to be friends with each others friends and make them our own.
ESPECIALLY in college, friends become family, so to have family surrounding your relationship is HUGE. You gotta have those buds, who can keep you in check, and hopefully running towards Jesus— Not a “perfect” relationship or marriage or anything else. Hear this, ‘cause gosh darn it I have struggled with this: Your relationship cannot be your idol, where you find your significance, or where you are “safe”. Jesus has got us in all of that and more. (Thank you friends who reminded me of that again and again.)
Engagement: Get real comfortable with who Jesus says you are.
When we got married last year, I honest to goodness went through an identity crisis. All of a sudden I had a new name, new living situation, new job, and I had no idea how to reconcile who I thought I was and should be to who I actually was. Maybe this was just because we got married young and A LOT of life happened in a matter of a couple of months, but I firmly believe that getting married is a huge paradigm shift for any woman. If I could go back to our engagement season I would spend that time digging into who my Spiritual Groom says I am, and get really really comfortable with who He says I am. That way when I faced the questions of am I good enough wife? Do I matter now that I am married and the wedding is over ( I know so self-absorbed and annoying, but a real question)? Who am I to my family, now? And so on…. I could’ve pointed confidently to I AM and say He is it, and he called me whole and beloved and remembered, and purposeful and His child.
There is so much more to dig into there and actually walk out— but that’s a lifetime of work to be done, I just wish I had started the work before I started a life with Jack.
Welp, here we are. I’m not sure I am qualified to give my two cents here but ya know what, I’ll just tell you where I am at.
So I have this problem where I think I know everything, anyone else? ‘Cause you know, we know what our husband / boyfriend / friend / family members / even God, is thinking and what they need and want. Ha, no…. and I have to think that heaven gets a good laugh out of my “let me take care of this” mindset. But you know what? It’s really a trust issue and a need to be in control of our own security. Man, and if you didn’t realize security could be an idol in your life, in and of itself, let me tell you: it most definitely can.
But why don’t we just ask? Why don’t we use the mouth we’ve been given to speak our insecurity and the ears on our heads to hear the truth of the matter rather than just letting our minds talk at us and urge us to fix and control the not enough parts of our life.
So I’ve been asking. “Hey Jack, do you think I’m a bad wife because I suck at doing dishes?”. His response: Uh no, I like doing them for you! and “Hey Jesus, Am I even qualified to be writing this right now? His Response: Girl, testify of my goodness towards you! (Mark 5:19). And I’m like, okay! Let’s do this!
Here’s the thing, at some point we all go through stripping seasons, where all the things we thought we controlled and found our security in will be sweetly swept away and all you’ll have to press into is Jesus. Yet, I challenge you to start now: start pressing in and asking what He thinks, so when earthly security fades, you’ve already made your home in the stronghold of Christ.
Start asking, bud. Pass the mic, instead of assuming and controlling and picking up burdens we were never meant to have. Ask things like: Jesus what do you think of me? Jesus what is standing between you and me? Husband, how do you see Christ in me? Husband, how is this whole marriage thing going from your end. Don’t make up the answers on your own.
So there ya go, that’s a snapshot of our story— and what a gift it is to learn from each other’s chapters.