Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Three Stages of Love

Jon and I will be married for 11 years this year, that is pretty amazing. And I have noticed throughout the years that our love has evolved and grown. Looking back I can see there were different stages along the way.

First stage - Ignorance is bliss!

I love everything about you, because I don't know you! There are things that draw me to you, there are things I see that I like, but really you are a stranger to me. It's the mystery or the idea of who you are that I have fallen in love with. I have only begun to scratch the surface of who you are and what makes you tick.

Second Stage - What did I get myself into?

Most people are married by this stage, but some hit this stage outside of marriage if they remain dating or engaged for a number of years. This is when things begin to unravel and the mysteries begin to get solved.

Now, the thing that attracted me to you is driving me crazy! Our differences are painfully obvious, and most of the time I'm convinced you switched personalities on me! The things I thought were cute are now annoying. The things I thought were inspiring now scare the crap out of me, and most of the time I wonder how it's possible that we were so madly in love at one point, wondering if we can ever get it back. This is NORMAL. A lot of couples go through this stage. This is all a part of getting to know your spouse. It is so very normal to be attracted to a man because he feels safe, and loyal, only to find out on the other side that the constraint to that strength is passivity and disconnection. It's normal to be attracted to a woman's flare and passion for life, only to find out on the other side that the constraint to that strength is impossible standards and expectations. Relationships put pressure on us all. And when the pressure is on, we get to see what we're made of. When we were single these things did not necessarily manifest in our life, because living with someone everyday in the covenant of marriage shows you what's deep down in there. And we all have weaknesses deep down in there. We all have things that need to be developed, shaped, chiseled and transformed. It's a process to work through and unfortunately, a lot of couples lose hope in this stage and call it quits. They throw in the towel because they don't know what they are going through is normal, and they don't know about the third stage of love!

The second stage of love is the stage that requires endurance, commitment, understanding each other instead of demanding agreement, and it requires hope. This is where your vows kick in and you decide to dig deep, suck it up, and move forward even though it's not really fun or romantic. This is where you pull in help - counselors, pastors, friends, parents. People who have gone before you and been successful. People who have reached the third stage of love and know what it's like to conquer the second stage. This is the stage where you don't give up.

Third Stage - I've never known a love like this before, so complete and so rewarding. True Love.

This stage is what makes love worth fighting for. This is the stage where I love you because I know everything about you. I have seen the good the bad and the ugly and it makes me want to move towards you. We worked hard, we made it through the second stage, and now we know why, and it is SO worth it. Nobody knows me like you do. I don't have to hide who I am, and neither do you. I accept you and you accept me. We don't demand perfection from each other, but we do inspire each other to be better. I know you are for me, and I am for you. I have one person to live this life with, that knows me and fights for me, and believes the best in me....always. This stage is the stuff movies are made of. This is what some would call finding your soul mate. This is intimacy at it's finest. And this third stage does exist. I bet there are more people in the third stage of love than you would have first imagined. I made it, we made it to the third stage. And I want to spend my life encouraging other couples that they can make it too! Dream big for your marriage. If you're stuck in the second stage, let hope rise up. There is true love waiting for you on the other side, if you can just hang in there and work for it!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Raising Up Protectors

I grew up in a broken home and experienced many hardships as a young woman. During my sophomore year of college I became pregnant with my oldest son, Nick. The guy I was casually dating at the time tried his best to convince me to have an abortion. Although I was wounded and disconnected in my relationship with God at the time, I knew killing my baby was not the answer. God met me in my decision to choose life. He sent me an amazing husband and blessed me with three more sons. Our boys are now 13, 9, 7, and 1 years old.

One thing Jon (my husband) and I have worked very hard at in raising our boys is making sure they understand it is their job to protect women and children. God created man as the stronger one, but not so he could dominate, prey upon, or “take” from his environment. God gave man strength so he could cover, protect, and give to those around him.

In our society today, many men have believed the lie that they need to look around them and receive identity and strength from things like girlfriends, "trophy wives", positions in sports, careers, and possessions. As a result, they become takers, sometimes even predators, looking to “get” what they need from their environment. What we are teaching our boys is they need to receive their identity and strength from Father God. When they spend time in the Father’s presence, they walk away full of love and strength. Then, they turn around and pour out protection and security to those around them who are vulnerable and in need. They are anchored into an unending love source, and they know who they are. They are learning to be givers and protectors, not takers or predators.

This cycle creates a culture of men who honor and protect the women in their lives, and a culture of men who understand what it means to father their children.

Young men, I challenge you to let Heaven invade your life and receive the revelation of going to God empty, in order to pour out love and protection into this world. Bringing strength to those around you will change an entire generation! The world is waiting for your strength.