Updated: Aug 1, 2019
If you happened to catch this post last week, you are privy to the fact that my husband, Dan, and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary on July 23rd. And it was far from magical.
We argued all morning. And all afternoon. I took some space--went to the gym, the mall. It was a long day. And it wasn't until about three in the afternoon that we finally came together to turn the day around.
The last three anniversaries (7, 8, and 9, respectively), have not been exciting for me. For reasons I'll discuss in future posts, I have not been looking forward to our anniversary for quite some time. Or, if I had, it was somehow ruined by outside forces.
So, that's three years of disappointment. One-third of our celebrations. Sixty-six percent have been happy. Thirty-three percent have been rough. That's nearly a failing grade. And I don't fail (that's my inner perfectionist talking.).
I'm not writing this for sympathy. I'm writing this for honesty. Sometimes, you don't like the person you married. Sometimes, that person is the last person you want to be married to. But just because that's how it is today, or this minute, or this second, that does not mean that your future--the next second, or next minute, or next day--is already predetermined.
We have the power to design our futures. We have the power to change our thinking. We have the power to not simply choose joy, but to choose HOPE.
I'm no expert. And I often suck (and fail) at this. But I am experienced in trying to choose hope, and I'd like to share that experience with you.
That day, on our 9th anniversary, I repeatedly told myself the day was ruined. Scratch that, I told my husband the day was ruined. I told him to cancel dinner. To cancel our babysitter. I told him he wasn't the person I wanted to be married to and that there was no point in celebrating when I'm not happy.
That sounds harsh when I type it. And it is. It's super harsh. But it was coming from a place of hurt and anger and pain, and I meant it. But I also didn't mean it. And it's that little bit, that teeny tiny part of me that knew that I didn't totally mean everything I was saying, that crept up even as I was speaking those words. I really did want to go to dinner. I really did want to be married to him. And I really did want to celebrate our marriage, even if it stunk that day.
It would have been so easy to scratch our plans. To sit in our anger and let it fester. To spend the evening apart or in separate beds. That would have been so very easy for both of us. But that's not what we did.
It's so much harder to do what is right than what is easy.
I feel like we know this as children--our parents, if they were the type of parents who wanted us to work hard to be our best, constantly told us that doing what's right was always harder than doing what we wanted or what was impulsive or momentary. But implementing that concept as an adult, to our own lives, often sucks. It's hard. There's no parent talking you through those hundreds of daily choices that you must make along the way. And for me, it's nothing short of the Holy Spirit that helps and guides me. Whatever leads your moral compass must point you to North, and following your North as an adult is trying and often painful. But you and I both know it is also incredibly rewarding.
So how do I do it? How do I stop those voices in my head, telling me to stay bitter, resentful, and spiteful? First, you need to know that I don't always stop the anger. I'm not always successful. But this particular day, our 9th anniversary, I made the conscious effort to choose hope.
I chose to stop myself. I chose to give my husband opportunities over and over. I chose to forgive. I chose to love. I chose to believe that there was more for us than this day, and more than the past two years. I had to make the conscious choice to swallow my own pride and stubbornness and allow my husband to care for me when nearly everything in my body was saying, "Do not let him in. Not today." I did what was right and hard and painful and trying and very much not remotely easy.
I chose hope.
I chose to hope in our future, and not focus on the pain of our past.
You need to know that I do not do this alone. I have spent the last fifteen years building a support network of women on whom I can lean when I feel weak and need encouragement. I have developed an inner circle of female friends who know the depths of my heart and who keep me accountable to myself and my goals. And, most importantly for me, I have a God who loves me beyond all measure, who accepts me at my worst, and who listens to me whenever I feel weak.
I do not know your struggle. I do not know your heart and your daily battles. I can only speak to my experience and hope that my decision--my often daily, hourly, momentary decision--to choose hope encourages you to know that you are not alone, that there is hope, and that joy is found at your compass's true North.
Lots of love this week,
And because it feels right, here is small trip down memory lane...followed by a few things helping me get through this week.
P.S. Seeing these photos makes me incredibly grateful for the improvements in digital photography over the past nine years. I tried making them full-screen, but the pixelation (definitely not a word but I'm not a techie) was not pretty. ;)
A FEW THINGS HELPING ME GET THROUGH THIS WEEK
By chance, or providence, or fate, but most likely God, a social media post led me to purchase this book. Its focus is joining science and faith to teach and prove that the mind is malleable. It's fascinating and I'm eager to learn how to switch my habits and detox my brain.
I thought we would be done with the SoCal heatwave, but it seems we have only added high humidity to the mix. When it's this hot, I don't want to layer my face in serums and creams and sunscreens and then makeup, but I still need to protect my face every day. This awesome product gives me antioxidants and sunscreen in one, dries quickly, does not leave my face feeling sticky or tacky, and it's paraben- and fragrance-free.
I have been on a quest to find the best waterproof mascara. I cannot stand when my makeup transfers underneath my eyes and effectively makes me raccoon-y. And then I constantly have to wipe under my eyes to make sure I'm good-to-go. After too many trials, I found the one. And, my mama always taught me sharing is caring. So I'm passing this gem on to you. This mascara gives volume, looks natural, and stays put all day. Win!