Charles and I left New York City in a bit of a frenzy. We had abruptly lost a job and couldn’t afford to live in our Manhattan apartment. We hadn’t planned to leave New York, and we sure as hell, hadn’t planned for a move to the middle of the country.
After four hard months of job searching, we decided to listen to God’s voice and just move. We didn’t have a second job yet, but we felt stagnant.
We both were floating and knew that God had called us to Austin. We had to take a leap of faith, even if it was unconventional.
When we decided our mode of transportation, Charles was quite adamant about driving. I had never done a road trip that long and was hesitant.
Having a ton of experience driving across the U.S., he said he could handle it – in fact – he said I wouldn’t need to drive much at all.
Two days before our move, my beloved husband went to play basketball with some good friends. After a few games, he sprained his ankle and collapsed to the floor.
His friends had to carry him into his car and back to his parents’ house. He texted me while I was at work and I didn’t think much of it.
“He’ll be fine, he’s sprained his ankle before, it can’t be a big deal.”
It was a huge deal.
Charles could barely walk. His ankle was swollen and he was in a ton of pain. My normally helpful, strong husband couldn’t stand on his ankle for longer than 30 seconds.
Anxiety infiltrated me. After multiple hits this year, I was mad at God and didn’t know how much more I could take.
How are we going to do this? Who is going to drive? How are we going to carry our stuff to and from our apartment?
Filled with this anxiety, we were still determined to leave New York that weekend. Our parents were terrified. They wanted us to back down and stay a few more weeks till his ankle healed.
We got into the car with our things early Saturday morning and brought with us two things I never thought we’d pack – a grey foot boot and a pair of crutches. That morning, I sat in the car as tears silently welled up in my eyes.
I felt defeated, filled with rage, and unsure of myself. I wasn’t ready for the “in sickness” part of marriage. I had signed up for “in health” and a less tumultuous entrance into our new season.
He had promised me he’d take care of the move.
He knows I can’t handle physical labor.
My husband and I have very different approaches to life. I am boisterous, outgoing, and full of energy. My husband is stoic, careful with his words, and an incredible listener.
Throughout our marriage, I’ve struggled with his carefulness of words. I always have so much to say – overthinking and venting over the past, present, and future.
Often, in his silence I question if he’s truly in our marriage. Is he present?
Do I irritate him?
Do I truly make him happy?
Many of these questions are murmurings from a younger woman who lives inside of me.
When I was younger, I spent a lot of time trying to justify my value, worth, and position to my family, peers, and friends.
I want to be known, liked, and accepted.
And honestly, I’d do anything to have it.
And for the most part, that anything came from a good place.
I’ve allowed many to get away with not great behavior towards me.
I’ve allowed my parents’ happiness to become my burden.
I’ve been willing to adapt and change to the ever-changing feelings and needs of others at my own expense.
They were all ways in which I felt I was exercising “good friendship,” “consideration”, and “kindness”.
That selflessness didn’t come from a place of putting others above myself. It came from a place of doing anything to not lose my position in people’s hearts and minds.
When Charles experienced his injury, there were many moments when my well of care dried up. I didn’t want to take care of him.
I was tired, disappointed, and at the end of my wits.
This shook me. What happened to the selflessness I thought I carried?
I learned that my selflessness was less about others and more about me and my fear of losing position.
I didn’t want to be rejected, disappointing, and not loved by those around me. Especially, to the love of my life.
One of the marvelous pieces of my marriage, is the way God has brought Charles to rewrite pieces of my identity. My relationship with Charles is one of the few where I rarely ever doubt my position.
Charles has extreme confidence in his life choices. He always makes feel secure in the one he made of me.
But it doesn’t mean I don’t carry still this fear of loss. This fear of losing it all. The fear that I will mess it up and ruin our marriage by not doing the things he needs as his wife.
God has been reminding me that “my works” don’t save relationships.
God has been reminding me that serving others shouldn’t be about me.
In Matthew 5, Jesus addresses the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. He talks about how they wanted to be heard, seen, and respected for doing good works.
They wanted everyone to know the good they had done.
I may not be blasting all my works for others to see. But when you operate out of a place of you, you have to evaluate where your heart is.
Out of your heart flows your treasure.
If my treasure is me, my actions are questionable.
If my treasure is me, I feed my own ego.
I encourage you to examine the root of your kindness. We’ve been so conditioned to believe that kindness is enough.
Dying to yourself really does suck.
Ask yourself where it flows from. It may surprise, shock, and encourage you to fall in front of Jesus.
It will encourage you to find healing. When you bring yourself to his throne, Jesus will remind you of your value, worth, and position.
The best part of this process is knowing that the gift of you is enough. The gift of being a friend, parent, partner, sibling, son, or daughter is simply in the gift of you.
In heaven, God sees you and has already deemed you enough. Remember that. Relish in that.
Be reminded that as you read this, you are enough because of the gift of Jesus.