Valentine's Day

Make the Choice NOT to let Valentine's Day Define Relationship for You

So, the big V-Day is tomorrow. The question is - what are you focusing on?

To find gratitude and presence in the relationships we DO have, we have to let go of society's definition of "being in a relationship" and embrace the truth. The truth is that we ARE always in relationship. There is no "one" relationship with a person that makes this Valentine's Day special. There are MANY relationships we have had and DO have that show us the abundance of love we have received. But we have to make the choice. We can either believe the hype of "being in a relationship" on this holiday and therefore measure ourselves against it and risk feeling like we aren't enough. Or, we can recognize that we ARE in relationship, it's just not how we (or society) wants it and we are MORE than good enough.

Really, you had to make the choice right now - would you rather believe society's definition, that always makes you believe that you aren't enough? or would you rather realize how lucky you are to have the relationships you do have? (It may sound corny, but honestly, when I get stuck in the letDOWN thinking this week, I'm going to need to make that exact choice.)

So my friend, YOU get to choose how you are going to be this Valentine's Day and the way we're going to do that is we're going to look at our #relationships. Drop the societal focus on "the relationship" and think about the bigger picture for a few minutes here. 

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On Monday, I mentioned in a Facebook post a few different types of relationship - the one you can choose (or choose not to have) with God, the one with yourself (added) or significant other and family/ kids, and your family and friends.

I don't know about you, but all of these play a role in every single day of my life. Every single one is in a different place of process, but every single one has a role in my life. It is NOT just about my husband. It's about ALL the relationships I cherish in my life. These relationships are not all wrapped up in a bow and joyous every time we connect. No, cause that's not what relationships are about.

Relationships are about connection, apartness, togetherness, individuality, growth, and change. They are messy, much like life and sometimes when you see them for their value, you see how worth it all the mess really is. But like everything in life, relationships are a process. In that process, we learn that they are EXACTLY what make life worth living.

So let's get down to business.

Relationship with God. It IS the most important relationship in this life. 1 John 4:19 says it simply, "We love because he first loved us." 

 If you don't know HOW much this Creator loves YOU, I recommend doing some soul searching. Drop everything you thought you knew about Him and imagine that He has, is and will always love you MORE than any significant other you could possibly be dreaming about right now. If you are wondering why your current significant other isn't meeting your every need - it's because THIS guy is the only one who CAN.

 If you aren't quite sure about it, think about it the next time you hear a love song this weekend. My Spotify radio that I'm writing to, literally just had THIS song come on. Play it while you read... It was very popular a few summers ago. Listen to the lyrics and imagine it's God you are singing it about. It's not the love of your life. It's HIM. If you need to, read the lyrics or sing this song for yourself out loud. (Btw, not sure on the imagery in the video, just focus on the lyrics and singing it out.) Add it to your driving or workout playlist for this Valentine's weekend to remind you that HE loves you, even when you feel like giving up. If you choose to receive His love, and it is a choice - you will never feel lonely again. If you do know him - this is a reminder. HE loves you.

Relationship with yourself. This is not an easy one my friends. I know there are lots of people out there trying to teach this. But you gotta dig deep and want this. It's an inside job that can't be taught. Relationship or not, we all need to be reminded that we are absolutely enough. I know I struggle with self-doubt and self-sabotage. In fact I was just writing about it this morning and you know what's behind it? Fear. Fear. Fear. I'm not going to choose fear. I'm going to choose faith. It seems simple, but seriously, when you are struggling with a piece of your life? It will FREE you. You still feel the fear, but you do it anyway.  Don't be so afraid of yourself. You've got more awesome in you than you know. (Another reason to have a relationship with God - cause He doesn't want you to have so much fear!) Quick scripture...

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
— 1 John 4:18, NIV

Relationship with your husband (or boyfriend). For those if you who DO have a significant other, you know this is one of the BEST and hardest relationships in your life - simply because God gave you this person not to save you or fix you, but to mirror you, to walk with you and be there for you every step of the way. That's some pretty intense stuff - so intense that sometimes it's hard to take a step back and realize how amazing it is, and I'm not talking all roses and romance. I'm talking about how this person sees your every beauty, imperfection, and broken crevice at the depths of your soul and still loves you. I'm talking about when it gets tough and you see each other hurt, grow, struggle, and you still LOVE. If that's not the love of God I don't know what is. I learn every day from my husband how much God loves me and is rooting for me. Marriage is tough, especially for this girl who was terrified for so long because all I saw was a broken one, but it is BEAUTIFUL and I am SO glad God chose me to walk the journey cause it isn't easy! But it's worth it.

Relationship with kids. In my case, this is step kids. Whether your kids are your own, your spouse's or their adopted, relationships with kids are an absolute GIFT. In my case, they are teenagers now. We met when they were in elementary school, and now they are all budding into awesome young adults. Every day I get more excited to see them grow into their own. I'm not painting some picture of how perfect family life is, or how being a stepmom is all glamorous. Of course it's not. But it's also not what you see in movies like Parent Trap. It's just real, and raw, and tough, and beautiful. I can't explain the love you can have for stepchildren, but it's special. I learn more from them every day. I cherish the little moments like any blood parent out there. I just have a different perspective on the love but there is no doubt it is absolute LOVE.

Does it seem like it would be harder to love stepchildren? Of course. I haven't had my own yet, but I'm sure glad I've gotten to love them first! I really am grateful that God didn't just give me a husband. He gave me triple that love. Were were scared to blend? I mean, duh. Was it tough for the kids for us to get married? Of course! But the beauty is that it's a journey, a beautiful, messy one, and I love it. I wouldn't have it any other way. I will take giving a ride to practice or making dinner any day.

Relationship with friends. I always refer to the phrase, "People are in your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime." I would absolutely Not be where I am without my friends. The ones I have today aren't about quantity, they are about quality. They are there for me in the thick of it. They get on the phone with me or sit across the table from me and we get to the root. We share our struggles back and forth. Sometimes one of us needs to get out more than the other. But it doesn't matter, because we're there for each other. Period. Of course over the course of life, friends come and go. We grow our families. We move. Our priorities change. Some you talk to once a year and it's like you never stopped. Others, it's not so much there. You miss that friendship. But you are grateful for that friendship, because at one point in your life - it was there for a reason and a season. The important thing is that you have them. Whoever they are in your life at this moment, they are there for a reason. Cherish them, and if you don't feel like you have real ones? Then reach out and find the ones who "get" your struggle cause you'll will be amazed at how much strength you'll get.

Finally, relationship with family. This one has been a big focus in my life recently. The past few years, has been a season of sowing and reaping in the home. We've been planting seeds, and my family life here in South Bend has been my focus. We've been through hell and we're beginning to see the light. I'm beginning to see how much God has brought us through on a whole other level, and it wasn't because I was expecting my blood family to be there, but because the people who were standing right here when my Dad died, when I walked down the aisle, and everything else - they were the ones walking with me, and I'm more than okay with that. Sometimes you need another family to help you heal your relationships with your real family. When your family is kinda broken, you feel like you don't have one - whether there's been a divorce, a death or there's just plain old family politics or strife, you need to know you belong to a family. I know today that i'm a child of God and that I belong to a church family. That has been a tremendous comfort, so has my recovering family. But today, as I finally feel myself growing up - I see the tremendous value in my blood family.

The other week I got to spend time with family - with my mom, with my stepmom, with cousins, with babies, and toddlers and aunts and uncles. I hadn't spent time with them like that since before our wedding, and it was nice. It got me excited about reconnecting in those relationships, however God intends. We're all coming out of seasons - of building families, of raising children, of fostering marriages, of career paths, of love and loss, of so many things - and it's cool to just be able to see that for what it is - a season and realize that a new season just may be around the corner if you are open to it. I sure am.

All that being said I want you to think about those how these relationships reshape your idea of what relationship really means. If you got it, you realized that the imagined "relationship" that the holiday of Valentine's Day creates, is just that - an imaginary one. Seriously, it's like our bodies. Is there one ideal one? NO. Is there one ideal person or relationship? IN your DREAMS! 

I suggest you tell society to go stuff it - Valentine or not. You ARE in relationship - with a heck of a lot more than one person. I mean I love my husband, but if he's my everything? I'm in trouble. I need every relationship I have and each one is God's GIFT!!!!!!

So I encourage you to contemplate where you are at in your relationships in this season in your life (and try not to beat yourself up). Give yourself some credit for how far you've come. Recognize the ones who've been standing by you - some in presence, and some in spirit. Get excited about what's to come, cause it's SO much better than getting a box of chocolates on Valentine's Day. I mean really, after everything I just mentioned - there is SO much more to life than just HAVING a date on the day. You want it because the world tells you that you have to have it. You've got it. You just gotta recognize it.

With that, I hope you have an awesome Valentine's Day and just know you are loved MORE than you can imagine, and ESPECIALLY more than the stupid holiday will imagine for you. Sunday will be here soon enough. 

xo, Your Healthy Voice

If yo are still stuck, watch this video:



Debunking the Myth of the Perfect "Person" for You

Pardon me for this late post. My sinuses are so stuffed. I'm finally going to the doctor tomorrow so apologies if it doesn't make sense! This blog has taken ALL day when usually they take 1-2 hours max!

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I have two questions to start off...

Why would we assume that we're going to find the perfect person when we know we ourselves aren't perfect either?  

Why do we believe the lie, (however long we do) that we will achieve happiness when we DO find that perfect person?

It's like believing the myth about the perfect body. We somehow believe that there is some perfect body and we'll be happy once we get it so we go on the hunt.

Before I go any further, I want you to pause for a minute. Drop your judgements. None of this, "Well she's in a relationship, blah, blah, blah." My marriage isn't perfect. It's great, but not perfect. Neither is anyone else's - no matter how PICTURE perfect it may be. My life isn't better because I'm married. It's just different. Your life isn't worse or better because you are single. It's just different. So - approach the rest of this as we are all human, trying to walk through relationship issues. Period. End of story. I digress.

The Dating Landscape

I'm amazed at this new app #tinder (yes I'm old). I thought #match was tough when I did it. Now it's down to just a picture? And you are supposed to figure out if you like someone, by a picture when you know nothing else? Talk about pressure!! We are so much more than a picture! And seriously - what if you meet a stalker? I met some serious weirdos on match! On the other side of the coin, I also know that people find love online because I've seen it. There is no right place. It happens when it happens. The point is that today it just takes a lot of work so I give everyone out there credit.

This "Person"

As far as this "person" goes, you want the right one - not the perfect one. Once you are okay with that, you are going to have to accept this is not going to be a surface thing. Much like the profile picture not showing everything, society's ideal relationship today doesn't show everything. Getting into a relationship is a raw and deep thing. It takes vulnerability. I mean being real with yourself first.

Is it the person you want? Or just a person to fill that hole...And if you are going to get real, there is only one who can fill this hole. It's called the "God-shaped hole" for a reason. It fits His love perfectly. It's not meant for any person. It's for the God who loves us. So the sooner you get to know Him, the sooner you'll be able to meet the person who is right for you. Because let me tell you, as long as you are trying the whole hole with any person - you will be disappointed. 

Falling in love with Him first, helps bring us a healthier relationship for the long haul.  

Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
— Matthew 22:37-39, NIV

The Deal Breakers List

Do you have a list of deal breakers? What's important for you in the LONG haul? What do you value? Watch for someone coming into your life that doesn't fit every qualification on your list perfectly.  It might be God challenging you to see if you are seeking the idea of love or real love, perfect love or imperfect love.

Little story. When Mike came into my life I knew he was the right one and that little of qualifications I had went out the window. Of course there were some that stuck, but it was his character that stood. The fact that he was 10 years older, already had been married, and had three pre-teens in tow was scary as all-get-out. But the love I felt? That didn't matter. I had to let my guard (or my list) down and notice what God was doing. I'm certainly not saying every woman needs to marry a divorced Dad. What I AM saying is that you may need to budge a little. God may have a different plan and you may really be faced with looking at your real priorities. 

My husband's faith and trust in God is what drew me the most and laid the foundation for our walk today. God is the only way we've gotten through what we've gotten through in the beginning of this marriage. He's the reason we love and forgive and keep walking. The only one. So if that' important to you, then you've got to pray about it. Pray that God brings you His will, not yours in a companion. 

Trusting His Plan

You may think you want to find the right person when the truth is - until you find the right person IN you - you won't find the right person FOR you. Find who HE is (God) and who YOU are IN Him. Focus on that and he'll give you direction and do it in his perfect timing. Believe me I thank God I didn't meet my husband until after I started working on me in treatment. Before that I wasn't ready. Every rejection I got from every guy was needed to be part of the story. Every one of them taught me something about myself and brought me closer to my person. And when I got real with me, and how I was using guys before to fill a hole, I found the only one who can fill the hole and he brought me through the pain of rejection from all those guys. But I had to be willing to walk through it, let it go, and trust that He had me. In the process,  I learned that He loved me first. With all my flaws and insecurities he still loved and still loves me first. In fact, he loves me more than ANYONE. More than anything he wants me to see me as he sees me.

Now don't think I'm saying you have to find this perfect relationship with God. He will be working on you until the day he takes you. What I am saying is get your priorities straight. If he loves you that much, and it's there for you to receive it, then you can take that "person" off the pedestal and go to Him. He will give you the desires of your heart.

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
— Psalm 37:4, NIV

Parting thought...

If this blog got to you in a not-so-fun way, pray about it, think about it. Are you putting this hunt for the right guy on a pedestal? Are you putting your husband on a pedestal? Maybe it's time to take a step back and adjust the priorities. This can be for everyone. I know I'll be thinking about it all week. Relationships are the thing in life that always need a reset button and I can't think of a better way to reset than to put God first in them.

I hope you have an awesome week. Love you. Take care of you. Don't let the Newsfeeds get you down.