Friday, June 7, 2013

Hard Lessons Learned

Summer is setting in. Summer has always been my favorite season, and I've always enjoyed the slower pace and sluggish heat that it brings. Somehow, this year seems to have dropped the ball on the slowing down part. So far, it has felt chaotic. Maybe the same way that this past Winter seemed to keep clinging on well into what should have been Spring, the bustling of Spring has bled into my Summer. Jon and I have been keeping busy as we have tag-teamed moving, hosting family, graduation, moving in the 2014 MTR residents, wrapping up work and freelance projects, and preparing for our trip.

Since the new residents are here, we've also gone to or hosted many new resident events. We even hosted a girl's night here last night. Being on "the other side" is strange. This time around, we are the ones sitting calmly, no longer staring like deer in headlights as we brace ourselves and prepare for this unknown freight-train that is about to hit us. We are now in the "graduate" group. This new bunch has moved into our old apartments and classrooms. Like the class before us, we try our best to impart as much wisdom as we can. Some things just have to be experienced, though.

The other spouses and I were able to host an "MTR loves the spouses" night to try to welcome the new residents and their counterparts. It was good to meet and connect with so many of them. I can only hope that they do reach out to us, the local churches, and to each other as this year progresses. Community here is so important for your marital and emotional health.

Most importantly, I hope that they cling tightly to one another. The hardest lesson to learn for us was the balance of time. Wherever you are in life, do not be fooled into thinking that anything is more important than putting your spouse first, above all else except Christ. Your first and primary commitment is to Christ, and your second to your spouse. This program, your friends, your hobbies and agendas, your selfish desires, they all need to be viewed through the context of "we." Jon and I had many nights where his list of to-dos for school was longer than his list of hours remaining in the day. When could he spend time with me? We had many days when I was too caught up in my own agenda to love and support him how I should have. We had to adapt and rearrange so that our marriage stayed healthy. We found ourselves asking, "What do you do when you simply have no time to spend with your spouse, no time to pray, no time to read your Bible?" You have to realign your priorities. This was our hardest and yet most important lesson that we took away from this past year. We failed often, but the habit of the lesson won out in the end.

Some of my favorite advice that we were given was this: If you do nothing else on your agenda for the whole day apart from spending time with the Lord and your spouse, then you did not fail. Conversely, if you accomplished everything on your list but did it in your own strength, saving time with God and your spouse for whatever energy you may or may not have left at the end, you will ultimately fail.

I am so thankful that amidst the chaos of the start of summer, Jon and I both feel the calm undercurrent. By the grace of God, we are firm in our marriage and in our faith. We are moving so fast it feels like the world is vibrating, yet we have not lost track of our priorities. As we prepare for our great vacation to Europe, we look forward to more time to reconnect and explore. It is a welcome respite from the pressure of the last year. My prayer for these new residents and their spouses is that they will continue to trust and pray, clinging to the right priorities as they move forward.

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