Last night my wonderful husband Bryan and I watched The Great Gatsby for the first time. I’ve never read the book (I know I know, it was soooooo much better than the movie-blah blah blah) so it was a whole new story for me. If you’re a literary slacker like I am and don’t know the plot, I won’t ruin it for you, but it’s a doozy of a love story. I doubt I blinked the whole time, and my heart slowly rose into my throat as I fought back the inevitable cry-baby tears that were most definitely coming. I remembered exactly why I don’t usually do the sappy love stories. You can have your Jane Austen, your Nicholas Sparks, etc. I. JUST. CAN’T. HANDLE. SAP. I realized that there is an important lesson in all of this for me, and probably a few others.
The scene of our watching experience is pretty much the picture you can paint for most of our nights: both of us in sweats (If you can relax in jeans, I don’t think we can be friends), various junk food sitting between us on the couch (we are not cuddly people, y’all), a basket or two of laundry that is crying out to be folded, the list goes on, but I believe in my heart that we are on the same page. I was watching J. Gatsby in all of his shining glory stare into Daisy Buchannan’s eyes with such intense love that it made me squirm a little. I jokingly asked Bryan if he loved me that much, knowing he would very quickly say “yes of course!” because I married a brilliant man. I get so swept up in emotions. Looking around at our less-than-perfect life and comparing it to all the big, colorful, Baz Luhrman-y pizzazz is stupid, yes, but reality in my less-than-perfect state.
I am so easily swayed by whatever “awesome” thing is in my direct view that I often miss the changing, growing life that God is fashioning in me RIGHT NOW. Trust me, I have a rolodex of very important lifestyle related issues going on at any given moment. My favorite mental distractions are fashion, food choices, working out, wanting my house to be pristine, and of course, my TV-watching obsession (Ask me about any show you want and I will give you an extremely detailed and I’m sure welcome opinion of it). Not to mention the actually important stuff in my life like work, my marriage, budgeting (Dave Ramsay, thank you very much!), both of our small businesses, family etc.
It’s too much! I like to pretend a lot of other people have it figured out and that I’m the only one faking it, but I logically know this isn’t true. I think a healthy step is at least admitting this to myself. Don’t let me fool you, every stubborn bone in my body is still in the “not admitting this” phase, but I’m trying. Ultimately, I like our kind of love. The sweatpants and candy kind, that is. I like the fashion-sense that comes naturally to me (The SO NOT daring sense-I’m just now getting comfortable with bolder lip shades, you guys). I know deep down that the grass is rarely greener, but I am resolving to work harder at admitting this to myself on a daily basis, and not beating myself up when the dogs have tracked grass all over our kitchen floor, Bryan forgot to wipe down the counters last night, and the laundry basket was apparently just too far away for
his our socks.
I am learning myself, my true personality, and my identity in Christ. This is not super duper easy, and I can’t do it alone. There are a few main things I am trying to fill my life with that make it easier to be raw, genuine, joyful, me:
My mentor: I think it is so incredibly healthy to have a wise person in your life who will listen and give you kind, painful, challenging, complex advice and will REALLY listen and seek to know the person that sometimes likes to hide beneath a shiny smile. I meet with a wonderful woman of God often once a week BECAUSE I JUST NEED EXTRA LOVE SOMETIMES OK? (And definitely not because I have a flair for the dramatic.)
Spending actual time with God: I am slowly learning more and more what it looks like. I’ve decided that it does not look like me skimming the Bible and then scolding myself because I am so easily distracted during prayer as I sit there forever, getting back on track for the 5th time, trying to formulate “a good prayer.” I’ve been trying to pray shorter, more meaningful prayers throughout the day and not one long, admittedly less meaningful prayer at some random time. It also looks more like me reading a shorter section of the Bible and then reading a commentary on it and taking notes on my handy-dandy Evernote app, because otherwise I would lose whatever notebook I was using to take said notes.
Lastly, and this is a new development,
Recognizing and developing friendships with people who love me for me and are uplifting: It has historically taken me a long time to exit an unhealthy (in general or just for me) situation, whether it be a romantic relationship, a job, or a friendship. Once I make a decision, however, I am done with no looking back. I desperately need to find a balance here. Giving grace to those who hurt me, while distancing myself and not touching the metaphorical flame again. Sometimes it takes writing these people down and seeing their names in front of you, in truthful black and white.
So that’s what’s on my brain currently. And I encourage more people to take a step back and tell the nasty comparison-voice to take a hike. Not that I am doing this perfectly or even well right now. This is a how-you-say daily struggle. But it’s a struggle that will get easier with some work…or so help me I will freak out.