Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Selfish Marriage?

This morning I read a blog about marriage by Dr Kelly Flanagan. Which can be read here. It started me thinking.

It should come as no surprise to most of you that I am a bit marriage obsessed. I use the word marriage, though sometimes it’s the wedding I fixate on, I know the colour of the dress of my six bridesmaids, I know which songs I want to sing, I have even started noting things to add to my gift list.

This morning’s blog made me wonder if I want to be married for the right reasons. I’ve found a man who makes me happy, who makes me feel safe, who I think is very sexy, and I want to spend my life with him. When written like that it does sound selfish.

Debbie Macomber is one of my favourite authors currently, it’s her fault I’ve become obsessed with knitting. (Yes I get obsessed easily). She uses social media to continue the conversation in her books – I’ve blogged about her before on the MWiB blog, here. She recently shared a love story that of her parents and invited others to share theirs. They basically went, we met in a place, something happened, we got together and are still married so many years later. Now I could tell you how me and boyfriend got together, the first year of our friendship ended (a year and a day after we met) with us become boyfriend and girlfriend. But that is not really the love story. The five years since are more the story of us, than the time before we were together. The stories of the first time each of us said the L word are more romantic. Just so you know, He first told me he loved me when I’d driven for 5 hours to surprise him at the Methsoc Christmas Meal, and as I was preparing to drive off the next noonish time and he said those powerful, scary three. I remember being shocked, but am not sure my actual response. We said goodbye, I drove to the next village and rang my best friend! It was only a week or so later when I said it back. We spent time sitting on my bedroom floor, sharing secrets, and when I felt he truly knew me and still liked me then I knew I loved him.

Being long distance for most of our relationship has pushed and challenged us at times, but I believe has brought us closer together. We talk more, as that is our way of showing our love to one another  (love languages author Gary Chapman has things to say on that here). I believe it has made us stronger.  We did live in the same house for three months when he started his OPP job and hadn’t found anywhere to live. 

Though only just over a year ago it seems ages ago, and long distance during university –as it lasted longer – feels more of who we are.

So why do I want to get married? Dr Kelly talks about letting your walls down to let someone else in. For me that was how I knew I loved him, when I was vulnerable and knew he would still give me a cuddle and tell me he loves me.

I want to get married as I’ve found someone who loves me for who I am, who lets me be vulnerable, who cries when I cry and who goes all health and safety about cables as he knows it bothers me. [I’ve been informed that isn’t romantic it’s the law!] Someone who makes me want to be a better person, as that is who he deserves to be with. He thinks I’m beautiful, and gives me confidence. I know I do the same for him.

Is that selfish?

I’ve also made lots of big grown up decisions recently,  sometimes it would have been really lovely if I hadn’t had to do that all by myself. I also hate washing up, and am rubbish at cooking for one, but really loved cooking for both of us. 

What is a marriage about? Two people, deciding to love one another every single day. Through the ups and downs. My favourite part of the wedding ceremony is the promises made with the rings –
I give you this ring
as a sign of our marriage.
With my body I honour you,
all that I am I give to you,
and all that I have I share with you,
within the love of God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

How beautiful. Giving all that you are, and sharing all that you have.

I don’t have answers. Maybe I am being selfish, maybe I’m obsessed as I think marriage will make me happy. Do I idolise marriage? I don’t think I’ve got rose tinted glasses on. I understand living with anyone isn’t always easy. I know that Boyfriend’s happiness is what I need to strive for, rather than my own, though in the same way he is striving for mine and nothing is really totally altruistic.   

Dr Kelly has an ebook. Maybe I should read that! 

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Stop and apply handbrake – review of 2013

When you learn to drive you are taught the difference between give way and stop. The best way to show the examiner that you know the difference is to apply the handbrake at a Stop sign, to show you have come to a complete stop. Whereas at a Give way you pause, look and if it’s safe go.

At the moment life feels a bit non-stop. It might not be the case it might just be I’m focusing on different things and in my spare time I’m now knitting (something I learnt in 2013) rather than blogging and in my new job I’m driving less, and driving was my thinking-of-blogs time.

Looking back, each year is that bit different to the others, I’m not saying on December 31st things stop and January 1st other things start but there are definite treads in each year.

2010 was the year of five addresses, I graduated, went full time, and at the very end lived on my own.
2011 was the year things started. I got my passport and went to South Africa, MWiB came into existence.
2012 was the year of interviews – well eight weeks of it was anyway, with seven interviews squished in them.
2012 was the year I challenged myself to run 5K to complete my Grade 5 Music theory.

Then there was 2013.
                A year in two halves, the first eight months were saying goodbye, packing up. It was about half way through those eight months I was offered my new job. Subsequently the final four months of 2013 were hellos, fresh starts, and new challenges.

It was the year I left the first place I’d chosen to live. That beautiful little city where I went for university will always have a place in my heart. I loved living there and miss it and it’s people.

2013 I grew up. I bought a house, I got a mortgage, I learnt what a damp proof course, a retainer on a mortgage and all sorts of other jargon was.

2013 has also been a year when I didn’t go to things. I missed Spring Harvest due to it clashing with MWiB weekend – and actually my job interview. I missed Greenbelt because I was bridesmaid at a friend’s wedding. So both good reasons! Then I missed 3Generate – as I’m too old – but I was on local radio that Sunday morning. That weekend was also five year anniversary of me and boyfriend! That is a long time! Much of 2013 was spent as a short distance relationship, which meant dates to the cinema, art gallery and a new found love of Chiquito’s popcorn. (We also went to a very beautiful wedding with lots of driving as I didn’t realise how big Yorkshire is). Boyfriend has now moved far away – sad face. My best friend has also moved far away – in her case to the other side of the world – very sad face. I did get to go to the weekend of Conference in London, and Soul Survivor with my young people – playing the animal game almost constantly, was really lovely when they wanted me to play. The other great moment was when one of my young people mentioned my passion for participation – “you always let us decide together” - win!

One of the most impressive things of the year was the fact I managed to do my journal every day, something my Brother and Boyfriend both thought was way beyond me.

2013 was also a year of travelling. My trip to Italy to help plan the seminar there this June was a great time –well despite having my purse stolen. I got to go to Northern Ireland for the Irish Methodist Conference– something I didn’t blog enough about, but the President’s sermon about Joshua 3 has reoccurred in many of my own sermons. I got to see the theological college which is a beautiful place to study in. The whole Conference was God centred and prayer was a key aspect. I also got to see Irish Helen Kim Memorial Scholar J.
Soon after that I ran 5K in 36 minutes – 6 minutes faster than the year before and much helped by the Youth President’s fitness regime while I was in Ireland.
Then there was Paris. Part of my new job is helping with the Churches’ Scout group and in October half term we got to go to France and meet Minnie Mouse, we did get the ferry in the awful storms. Other parts of my new job include a toddler group, lots of different styles of worship and a very busy advent.

You will now realise that it is February, and we are already 1/12 into 2014. What does it have in store?  So far I’ve been trying to set up my pension, I’ve knit two snoods (one for me and one for Mum) and visited boyfriend in his brand new exciting job – see his blog here for more on that.

2014 will be another year of solitude evasion - finding ways of building community. It will hopefully me the last full year that I’m single, (like I had to put on a form the other day). It’s a year of more new experiences, running an international conference in Rome, and so far a year of three weddings, every year has had a different number recently – very clever of you my friends.

I think I need to pause more, to put on the handbrake, reflect what’s happened. So bring on 2014! Let’s hope it’s not as manic as 2013 but just as fun and action packed.