Half My Life

Half my life now, I’ve been a married woman. Half my life, I have been the other half to Andrew Michael.

I will say that I prefer this half of my life to the earlier half, so that’s something.

I said “I do” just three months after graduating high school. Committed my life to a union of souls, and signed on the line, without a clue about how to really love someone.

Talking with a dear friend recently, she shared that to her, much like having children, maybe marriage isn’t about making us happy at all. No, maybe it is for our sanctification that God allows us to make such a bold commitment – maybe even an impossible commitment.  I think she’s onto something. Marriage is our refining fire: showing all of our glaring insufficiencies, faults, and sins. Sometimes that fire is too hot for people, and they jump out of the burning building that marriage can be, and limp away wounded. But each time we choose to stay in a refining fire moment –  to battle and fight for all that is good and holy about marriage – we come out more purified, humble, grateful, holy.

There are days and weeks where I haven’t wanted to be married. There are days and weeks when he has felt the same. Months of counseling that felt like it went nowhere. Ugly fights and days when I wondered why on Earth did I think I had a right to make such a life-altering decision at such a young age?

I am not the same woman Andrew married. We have both changed so much in 18 years. And we have had to bend and flex to fit each other’s changing selves. Sometimes it feels like we can’t imagine stretching further. Or maybe like we have bent and stretched for so long, and we are tired of the ache.

The years since I began nursing school have been long and hard, presenting us with one challenge after another, and we are left battleworn, hurt, confused. Going through the motions, prayer seems to have left our routine sometime last year. We have sacrificed. Did we sacrifice too much? Did we sacrifice our marriage? Didn’t we feel like this was the right thing for our family when we started this journey? We fight feelings of anger and betrayal – this is not the land He promised us.

We spend an evening side-by-side in bed, piles of papers surround us. And we take turns reading aloud love letters that are 19 years old.  We read word-for-word the passages of scriptures we shared with each other in the months before we married. And tears fill our eyes, and my throat feels tight. My heart is tired, afraid, but I feel the smallest spark of hope. I look in his eyes and see it there too.  And I decide that spark is what I will fight for.

We sit alone at the dining table, and he listens to my worries. His hand reaches across the great expanse of table between us. “Can I pray with you about it?” he asks, ever so tenderly. And my heart melts into a puddle of “absolutely” and “I thought you’d never ask” . . . and those tears are back, and my throat is tight. And there is a hope-filled spark daring us to fight.

That’s where we are today.

I have said it before and I still believe it to be true – marriage is an amazing gift, a blessing, a beautiful reflection of bigger things. But it ain’t no bed of roses. And it certainly isn’t for the faint of heart.

We have made it through hard seasons before and came out into beautiful seasons of joy and rest. The fact remains that Andrew is my person. I love him most in all the world. He knows me better than anyone and hasn’t walked away. And I have been given the gift of getting to be HIS person, the person who knows him best in all the world. Let me tell you, Andrew is an amazing person, and I am blessed to be his wife.

I believe Andrew and I are heading towards a new season of health – and I am confident that I serve a good Father in Heaven who will never let us fall so far that we are beyond His saving. The spark of hope I feel is real, and it is encouraging us to press on and fight.

All that is left, is to do what we know. Pushing beyond what we think we “deserve,” forgiving seventy times seven, running hard after our Lord because HE is what brought us together, carrying each other’s burdens, protecting each other’s spirits, rejoicing with each victory – no matter how small . . . .

We will fan the spark into flames.

Half my life.

 

 

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Not Completely Insane.

One of my favorite songs of my Junior year of high school connected with me back then and ever since… I remember when I heard Alana Davis sing “I’m not completely insane, maybe just a little bit crazy . . . ” and I felt understood. Life can make us fill a bit crazy sometimes, eh?

In keeping with my 2017 theme of Climb, my obvious work situation needs addressing.

I have been on my new unit for just over three months now. Three months of midnights, three months of beautiful babies. I am getting more comfortable.

I have so many thoughts on this topic…. and how to lay them all out without being too wordy is baffling me.

Positives: I don’t *hate* nursing so much anymore. Boy, I sure hated it last summer when I was putting up with cliques and craziness. But now….now it’s not so bad.  Being a postpartum nurse, and getting to educate new mothers all night long – it is fulfilling in a way I didn’t experience before.  And man, babies just make everything better! When I’m having a long night and just need to catch my breath, sometimes I do that by helping a mom soothe her fussy baby.

There are few things in life more satisfying than getting a fussy baby to finally get out that burp and fall asleep.

There is still so much to learn. I just began a training class, full of textbooks and lectures and tests (oy very) for my work that will end in May.  The never-ending training that Nursing entails . . . I knew about it, but it’s different to live it. Never-ending online modules, quizzes, movies, and in-house training on new equipment or protocols. I realize that as long as I am a nurse, I will be studying something.  Good thing I like learning.

Negatives: There are also days that are super hard, and things that I don’t appreciate. No job is perfect, I know. But Midnights SUCK. I pretty much want to die at 4am every shift. My body just doesn’t do it well. I am praying for a dayshift opening on my unit soon. But truly, all those awesome dayshift jobs… they are hard to come by.  The other huge negative is the schedule of a hospital nurse. 12.5 hr shifts are still brutal for me, and working weekends and holidays when all my family, friends and church are gathering… and I’m missing it…. Again, I knew about this before I signed up for it…. but it’s different to live it.  I am longing for a day job – no weekends or holidays. To get to be home for Thanksgiving AND Christmas.

Last month, I came darn near close to quitting altogether. Tired of “putting in my dues” with no end in sight. I was exhausted.  My alternative was to spend the next thirty odd years working in retail or something to earn just enough to pay for out-of-pocket health insurance. Yeah… not appealing.

I gave God one final “What the heck is going on here? Get me out of this mess!” And I felt His answer as a wave of peace. I felt the Lord impress on my heart that “until you hear otherwise, keep the course”… Yes, once upon a time I felt called to be a nurse, and so until He gives me a new direction, I will follow that first leading.  Sometimes I still feel like I am in the right field – usually it’s in the moments I am educating someone….

Which leads me to my next goal of 2017: get back in school to get my degree. Truthfully, according to the contract I signed at the time of hire I have to enroll before December or they will fire me. But as much as I don’t want the financial burden of a degree that doesn’t promise me any higher of an income, I think it may actually be in my best interest . . . because once I have that BSN I will be eligible to teach students in a clinical setting, which very much appeals to me.  I have always loved teaching others, and mentoring younger people. I am good at it and it fuels me (instead of draining me.) So that’s my hope…. Not to mention the hours would be so much better and school holidays off!

Back to school I go. Back to piles of dishes and laundry (but hopefully less fast food). I will be a working mom, in school. I must be crazy. But just a little bit 😉  Praying I can keep up with my relationships, because I know that is vital. And praying I get a day position and can go to church once in a while!

All in all, for some reason, I think I can trudge through. One more push. Will I like it when I get to the end? What if I spend all that money and time and…. Oh nevermind. That kind of thinking gets me in trouble. I am taking this baby step… following my first order and seeing where it takes me.

That little spark of hope is still there for 2017. I still believe God will work it all out.

Yeah, I knew this wasn’t going to be a short one. But I felt I owed some of you an update, however uninspired.

Love,

Amy