Sometimes I get possessed with an overwhelming desire to write down my thoughts. This urge used to come to me on nearly a daily basis in years gone by, but the busier I've gotten with less time to actually write, the urges have dissipated. But release of thoughts still comes to me through writing.
This might be long. I don't expect anyone to read it, since I usually find reading long blog posts of just cramped text to be something beyond my patience or even interest. Pictures are my captivation. But sometimes my thoughts just have to get out, out beyond the confines of my own mind, broadened out into a large scope.
Ideals. I'm a believer in fairy-tales, magic wardrobes, and sunset endings. No, not literally, but in truth, I'm a hopeless romantic at heart. I look for the fairy-tales around me. I expect to find them. Not fairy-tales with princesses, evil witches, and prince charmings. But rather, fairy-tales of perfection. Because perfection is indeed just a fairy-tale.
When I ended my second relationship, in obedience to God and defiance of my own feelings, I thought that I'd given up on fairy-tales. For a long time I stopped believing in happily ever after, since my knights in shining armor had all been sent away to ride off into the sunset without me. I became a cynic. A doubter. A disbeliever. It took a long time for be to even want a happy ever after. To even want a relationship or marriage. During that time, a necessary mindset change took place. I began to see that fairy-tales, indeed, aren't realistic. Even the best of marriages has problems. Life really doesn't end in a happily ever after, amen. It was a healthy mental change for me. Yes, love stories do take place and relationships really can end happy, but none of them are a fairy-tale ending.
But incidentally...I didn't stop believing in “Prince Charming.” I still had a long list of must-haves, must-does, must-be-likes to which I held up every man I met. Each and every one of my ideas were good, godly, right ideals. I held high standards. He must think this certain way about God. He must not struggle in this area. He must be never-failing to have a daily quiet time. He must always be spiritually leading. He must be the godliest of godly men. He must have this view on child-raising and schooling. He must. He must never. He must always. My ideals were high ideals of simple, basic....perfection. If he didn't match my expectations, then I looked down on him. He wasn't good enough.
As I began to be open to relationships again, I naturally began looking at the men around me. And nowhere did I find any man anywhere any how who came near meeting my standards. And truthfully, I held fast to my standards. People have always told me to never settle for lest than best. Don't compromise. Wait for that perfect guy. Wait for your true love. Don't give up. Don't settle. And with all the conviction my perfection-seeking, idealistic heart, I held on to that Prince Charming idea. And thus, as I never found this paragon of perfection, I grew hopelessly despairing of ever getting married.
I'm not perfect. I don't always respond to situations right. I don't always spend time with God every day. In fact, I'm a pretty lousy Christ-follower! I'm the rebel-child in God's family, often deliberately doing my own thing, even when I knew it was contrary to God's will for me. All the while, still in my pride, patting myself on the back for being a good Christian girls, for having such high standards for a husband. I looked at the guys around me and felt than none of them were spiritually up to par with me. None of them loved God as much as me or in the same way that I do. I still expected a perfect man to be my husband. That right there is a prime example of hypocrisy! But as I wanted God's best, I self-righteously stuck to expecting much out of men, while cutting myself slack when I didn't always keep the faith.
A few month ago, doubts into the rightness of my high ideals began to creep into my mind. Somethings began to just not sit right with me, particularly the hypocrisy of my double standards. Was I right to expect Mr. Super-Christian for a husband? And to expect him to overlook my own obvious faults? Was I right to hold guys up to a standard that I myself didn't and couldn't live up to? And the other big question....is there really such thing as the perfect husband? Is there such thing as a man who is ALWAYS gentle, loving, caring, leading, guiding, praying, patient, mature, without blame, forgiving, forbearing? Despite how good my standards were, was there really any human hope of anyone ever meeting ALL those standards ALL the time?
I began peppering my best friend, who is newly married, with all my doubts, questions and confusions. She shared candidly with me about her marriage, including her and her husband's struggles through expectations and leadership, etc. She told me something profound:
We measure others by their actions, but we measure ourselves by our intentions.
For the sake of simplicity, I'll bullet-point what I got from that:
- I have looked at myself and indeed have always measured myself by what I wanted to do and what I intended to do. Thinking about spending time with God was somehow misconstrued in my mind as being equal to actually doing it. I have a hundred and one good, godly, spiritual intentions...but probably only a dozen or less of them actually take place. But I've still be measuring myself up to the hundred and one.
- I can't see the intentions of a man's heart. A guy I see every day may truly be desiring after God, desiring His will above all else, wanting to spend some time with God in prayer...but not having the time, not making the time or for whatever reason, it just not happening as often as he desires. His heart is to DO right. But as I would only see his action, I would most likely totally miss out on his heart to do it.
- I need to cut people some slack. Stop being so judgmental. Stop being so selfrighteous about my walk with God. See my lack of follow-through for what it is, and see their desire to follow-through for what it is. Neither of those being perfect, but rather, merely human.
She also told me, through her new first-hand experience, that no husband will ever perform perfectly all the time. He will fail to spiritually lead. He will be the one to crumble and walk away from the Cross. He will be the one to stubbornly refuse to see truth. He will be the one to not be upholding his part of the marriage. Her husband, as much as she loves him and knows he's God's best for her, even he fails his wife. And she fails him.
Hearing it so personal like that really began driving it home for me. I've begun to actively examine my heart, deliberately taking myself down from my lofty pedestal, and evaluating what are priorities and what are, truly, only preferences. What are reasonable standards to look for and what is simply a too-high expectation. And it's felt sooo good! There's nothing like knowing you're believing the wrong way, but unable to strike that blow against it. That's how I'd begun to feel about my husband expectations. Realizing my future marriage didn't have a chance as long as I had a death grip on Perfect Pete. My expectations themselves where destroying any potential marriage before I even had a boyfriend. Yah. Crazy.
The final blow to my ideals is probably too hard a one for me to write. Maybe because it's not my story, but someone else's story. A stranger to me, actually, but someone I have come to respect IMMENSELY on the blog world. You can go to www.xanga.com/resolved2worship.com to see her blog, and go to her archived posts back to February 2011 to read the 12-part series on her love story. Really. Whether you're single or married, go read it. I linked it to my above mentioned married friend last week and she herself was impacted by it tremendously.
So, this total stranger totally impacted my life. After reading the last part of this lady's story...I felt like an ocean of tears were spilling out of me. I was gripped by emotions so strong that I felt totally incapable of any more than putting my face in my hands and weeping. Strange that it effected me that way. But I think I was so moved for two reasons:
2) Because in the final breaking down of my life-long perfect ideals, I realized the lies I had been believing...and that the man I'd imagined all my life, the man I'd watched for, held-out for, waited for, imagined so clearly.....had never even existed. He was a phantom. I would never meet him. I grieved.
2) But because as that phantom had dissolved into ashes, I saw that I was set free from a big righteous-looking lie that Satan had been feeding me about husbands, marriage and myself. False expectations become heavy burdens to carry and I had been buried under this one for so long. To be set free from it was like seeing hope again. I was no longer holding myself up to a false expectation. Neither was I holding a fallible human guy up to a false expectations. Inhibitions were were gone.
As I heard somewhere recently....let God be God and man be man. So strange that something seemingly so small could have changed my life so much. Because I believe that my foundation has shifted, the core has been taken out and replaced with something more solid. Expectations are being kicked out and Christ replaced instead.
Congratulations on reaching the end of this post! Of course, what I've written doesn't even half describe this journey. But I guess the whole point of writing it was more for my own mental logging anyway. =)