Monday, July 22, 2013

Cowgirl Up!

Howdy! My name is Halllie and I have never blogged. I am excited but scared for you to expect something life-changing out of this post, but that is where God does His "thang", He takes ordinary people to do His exceptional work, right?! So, I hope you can take a break from whatever you are doing right now, read this, and know that though we may have different lives, but we are created from the same Maker and struggle with the same sins.

A mom of a hilarious (I don't use that lightly) and clever 2.75 year old boy, 8 months pregnant with baby number 2, and wife to John for 7.5 years, that's me on paper! I tend to ramble so going much deeper than that would result in your lunch break being over before we get to the good stuff. I love to work in the yard, stroll through nurseries and new/under-construction homes, do projects with my man, workout, be on the water, mow grass, eat Cheetos, bake but not cook, make sure people have a good time, and having people in my home are a few of my favorite things. I was born and raised in church, strayed a hair in college but never left my roots, then met my lobster in a singles group at a church much like Crosspoint after moving home, jobless, with a degree, into my old bedroom, and being 100% certain my life had ended right when it was supposed to begin. :)

I've totally put off writing this in hopes that through prayer and maybe hearing God's loud audible voice for the first time ever, the topic would be sent down to me on a jagged stone or maybe 6 different women would ask me about the same thing over a 2 day period and it would be CLEAR. Crickets....nothing. So, I dug deep and tried to sort out this last year, the last few, then ultimately my marriage for some tough lessons or anything that I could share that may illuminate a mind bulb or pluck a heart string for a sister in Christ. Rather than any one situation or event, a concept comes to mind....We've done some great studies as dating, engaged, then as a married couple. We've been to A Weekend To Remember (awesome!), some counseling during a particularly tough time, and both read many books. I walk away feeling extra "ready" each time and hopeful that we won't sink into the same rut or argument. Most recently, a study called Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs taught a concept that I knew...but didn't really embrace as often as I should. RESPONSIBILITY.
Responsible...that is something I've been called most of my life. I did my chores, gleefully, completed my homework early and over the top (yes, nerd here) , baby sat kids until I could drive then got a real job, was involved in many things in school, went to college where I worked the whole time, graduated early and at the top of my class, and have worked pretty much ever since then. That is responsibility to the world...but what does responsibility look like with emotions? What does it look like in marriage? Socially?

The very root of the word is RESPONSE...meaning how we act because of something. All it takes is one call to a good girlfriend to explain our side of something and be reassured that we were "totally right" for how we felt or how we acted and how terrible the other person must be, yes? That's all fine and dandy until we realize we don't win by being right, we don't win by being wrong, we win by being Christ like. In friendships and in marriage, I've never consciously thought "I MUST WIN HERE!" and fought to the bitter end, but I sure have dissected who said what and why and how I only reacted to them and them to me and before you know it yeah...it’s too late to un-speak. The common thread is reacting on the reaction of others. What a terribly confusing and dizzying way to live! Dr. Emerson taught us to believe, practice, and accept that "My response is my responsibility". Sounds simple enough....but boy, it’s tough. The good news is it's very liberating! Stop and REALLY consider that...how you react is YOUR responsibility. Let me put it simply, you will not stand on the rolling clouds in front of our Savior and say "He made me do it!" You cannot explain away why we did anything on earth by telling Christ "what had happened". This may sound silly and obvious, but really let that sink in. Whether your husband, boss, friend, mom, or kids really push your buttons or say the one most hurtful thing possible...all that matters is how you react. Will you let their reaction dictate yours? Don't REact, just act...like Christ. God did not make us to be tossed about by this cruel and fallen world, but to be a LIGHT to it. You may not win every battle with your adversaries, but together we can win the war for Christ and grow closer to Him. Sure, when things are spinning and our tears are real and the pain is fresh, growing closer to God seems far away...but these are the moments I've learned the most. If you've ever met John, you know he is a mess :), a fun, crazy, passionate goofball mess. Makes for a fun and lively marriage but can make for rambunctious and lively arguments, I'm no wallflower myself. I have finally learned that maybe our reactions feed each other, and I can literally stop the madness myself, by not reacting, just acting...like Christ. There are layers to people and marriage (buy the book) but really stopping to think "God won't care that I was provoked, He will only care how I treat my mate" was eye opening to me.

My mother in law has recently been through something I would never wish on my worst enemy. All you need to know is that she has been questioned, talked about, turned on, judged, isolated, and had to be a rock in some very sloppy and murky waters she was dumped into at the hand of her husband. I found myself doubting her mental stability or wondering if she literally hears from God and He is holding her hand because she was either crazy or cosmic. Then this study struck a chord. No matter what her spouse did, she made a promise to honor God in her marriage and love him like Christ would...NO...MATTER.....WHAT. We'd all like to say we'd do the same, but some very "Christian" women and family members have suggested otherwise. In my immature brain, I have played out scenarios for her (and myself during some tough times) of what she deserved, how Christ would WANT her to be fulfilled and happy...that is a slippery slope. God does not promise us happiness, He promises eternity with Him after doing His work here on earth. I cannot think of anyone else at this point in time doing more of His work than she is...and to think....so many church going people have abandoned her for doing just that. How trivial and small are my hang ups? How crazy must I drive John at times and thankfully he doesn't treat me how I deserve?

God is kind enough to let us enjoy this beautiful place, have meaningful relationships with friends, our spouse, and our kids. He blesses us with jobs to have and do things many in the world can't afford; however, that is not our ultimate purpose. Our purpose is to be like Christ to everyone we meet. I have been convicted and challenged to take full responsibility for how I act and react, regardless of the way I am treated. Turning the other cheek was not Jesus being a door mat, he was letting them physically abuse Him but by turning to offer the other, He was making the choice, not being the victim. No one can cause us to act a certain way, they are merely revealing the way we are....we have to choose to be better and learn how to submit, and serve others to honor Christ.

 In my first job at the Houston Astros, I had a very career driven single "cat lady" of a boss who told me one time to "put on my big girl panties and deal with it". I'm thankful to not work for her anymore but in that moment, she was right. We need to "cowgirl up" (a little shorter and sweeter way to say the same thing) and stop letting others steal our joy, steal our grace, and steal our mercy that Christ gave to us to be EXTENDED to those who need it most. We don't get to choose the mission field, we are in it! Do not be of the world.....Love you gals!

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