Lately I have been reflecting on my single years, and this thought has been lingering:
“I didn’t always know who I wanted to be with, but I always knew the type of woman I wanted to become.”
When I was in college I dated a few people and looked for my joy to come from them. When those relationships ended I found myself empty and frustrated and unsure of who I was. I remember making a list of all the characteristics I hoped would one day describe me. I found the list recently and have been inspired again to be a woman who defines these words in who she is:
kind, caring, faithful, classy, graceful, witty, clever, thoughtful, elegant, happy, loving, energetic, intelligent, and wise.
Basically I wanted to be Kate Middleton (#stilldo). But I made a choice the day I wrote this list. I decided to stop pursuing things that would make me happy or bring me temporary joy, and decided to focus on who I wanted to be as a woman. I started reading articles and books about these qualities and did my best to surround myself with others who I felt these characteristics described. I looked for ways that my thoughts, speech, and actions could be categorized by one of the above adjectives. I dedicated my life to being better, rather than to finding love. Less than a year later, I met my future husband.
I have found that the way to joy and contentment in all aspects of life is through seeking the woman that God created you to be. It involves a lot of self reflection, prayer, finding your strengths, determining what you love and why, learning more about who God is, and allowing God to lead you towards confidence in the woman that you are.
I played soccer with my old teammates from college recently and I felt more like myself than I have in a very long time. I was reminded of my passions, my strengths; pieces of me who I had lost or forgotten about. Being married has shifted my focus to my husband and making him happy, but I think God has been reminding me lately that there is someone else who needs my attention: me.
I don’t know if I’m the only one, but I’ve found that in marriage it is really easy for me to get caught up in my spouse’s needs and how I can be supportive of him. I prioritize his needs, and don’t realize that some of the choices I make with him in mind are actually burdensome for me, and cause me to put my passions and desires on the back burner when they do not need to be. While it is absolutely vital to support your spouse and love them unconditionally, love does not always have to be sacrificial. At times either spouse will need to make sacrifices, but there should never be a time that husband or wife sacrifices the person God has called them to be; the person God wants them to pursue daily.
I didn’t realize how important it is in marriage to not only pursue your spouse, but to continue to pursue YOU. Pursuing you, means pursuing and knowing God. A way to start is through His word:
22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
The Bible tells us the ways to joy and happiness. It has been my greatest resource for becoming a more loving, kind, generous, wise, and thoughtful individual. But the trick is, you can’t just read it. You MUST do what it says. And there lies the challenge of pursuing YOU. Pursuing you means turning from an old life of sin and selfishness, and focusing on who Jesus is and how you can be more like Him. We were created in His image, but are constantly straying from that. To find yourself, your joy, your peace; you must first find who He is. Pursue you, by pursuing Him.
Start by reading one of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John). You will be introduced to who Jesus was. In learning more about Him, you will find that any positive characteristic you hope would describe you, has been used to describe Him first.
In reading more about God, I encourage you to also reflect on what brings you the most joy. Have you spent any time recently doing those things? When was the last time you treated yourself to time of refreshment, whatever that means for you: drinks with girlfriends, reading that book you’ve been wanting to read, taking a trip, joining a sports league, getting a pedicure. Please take some time to enjoy the little things that bring you peace and happiness as well.
Don’t get so caught up in your love for your spouse that you forget that God first called you to know Him, and know yourself. I look forward to hearing what you learn about God through pursuing YOU.
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