Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Marital Adjustment

In just a couple of weeks, Honza and I will celebrate our six-month anniversary. My, how the months have flown by! This past half-year has been an adventure, filled with joys and triumphs, illness and struggle, love and intimacy, conflict and repentance. What a beautiful six months so far!

I remember hearing a quote long ago, that getting married reveals how selfish you really are... and even though I'm still a novice in the marriage field, I can agree wholeheartedly! Marriage is a unique bond, wherein we've promised to be together for the rest of our lives (whether 2 or 62 more years!): to care for the other when they're sick, to love each other even when it's difficult, to embrace and forgive after a fight. Marriage strips away our pretenses, and reveals what lies underneath: selfishness.

For me, one of the greatest adjustments to make as a newlywed was in the realm of my mind: transitioning from thinking as "I" to thinking as "We." Whether with finances, time management, chores, or communication, this was shift I hadn't expected would be difficult to make. 

After two years of living on my own, I was no longer used to telling someone my schedule, or to discuss a purchase before buying... and I'm not saying that these are a bad thing to do! After all, Honza and I have intertwined our lives, and are counting on each other financially, emotionally and with our time. (In the reciprocal way, I wouldn't be very happy if I'd planned a dinner for us, because he'd forgotten to communicate that he'd be busy for the evening!)

As married people, we can no longer live as if we were single.

This morning, I sipped on my tea and pondered these events, and realized how much it relates to a conversation we had on Tuesday's "Talk the Night Away" English meeting. We were discussing how the assignment of our paths to heaven or hell doesn't depend on our good works (having an open mind toward God, praying, going to church), but on our acceptance of Jesus Christ as the forgiver of our sins, and giving Him authority over our lives, as our friend and our King., what does that have to do with my marriage?

One of the students asked me if it's not necessary for us to do good things, then. I realize now that my response is much like how I've been adjusting to married life: Your actions don't determine whether you go to heaven or not. That lies in whether you've embraced faith in Jesus. However, this relationship with Jesus won't leave you unchanged. Just as He forgives our sins, He will also guide you and teach you how to leave this life of sin, and become more like Him: perfect, loving, holy, and selfless.

To tie this in to the beginning of my post, I think of my relationship with Honza in a similar way. We are married, and our actions don't change that: whether I cook dinner or not, whether he vacuums or not. Whether we remember to coordinate our schedules or not, Honza is still my husband, and I am still his wife.

But our actions do affect us and our relationship. Our actions can either heal or hurt our marriage. I can't live the same way as I did before we got married, but this is a beautiful thing! Being Honza's bride, and experiencing his love daily, is worth far more than all I've left behind in my singleness.

And just as deeply as Honza loves me, I know that the love of Jesus is even more perfect, more precious... and this love from God helps me to love my imperfect husband more and more, just as God loves this imperfect me.

"For God so loved the world that He gave
His only Son, so that whoever believes in Him
should not perish but have eternal life."
John 3:16

"For by grace you have been saved through faith.
And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may 
boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."
Ephesians 2:8-9

Monday, January 26, 2015

A strange new land, a strange new life.

I spent yesterday evening in the kitchen with one of my roommates. We leant against the counter, sipped tea, and our conversation about the day slowly shifted to a bottle of wine by the stove, which I'd received as a lunch-guest gift that afternoon. (In the Czech republic, it is customary--when invited to someone's house for a meal--that you bring them a small gift... such as chocolates, cookies, or wine.)

As we looked over the bottle of rosé wine, my roommate asked me if I prefer sweet or dry wines. As I delivered my ever-eloquent response, she started to grin. In our usual playful manner, I asked her what it is about my answer that caused her to laugh. She replied, "Well, if I asked you this question one year ago, you would've had no idea how to answer it!"

Thus, we began a lengthy conversation about the plethora of new experiences I've had over these past 20 months, and how they have influenced me as an individual...

I have been on adventures. 

Skiing for the first time, blueberry-picking on beautiful waterfalled hiking trails, surviving a week in a chata (cabin) with no electricity or cell service, and--heck--even riding the train without getting completely lost is an adventure!

I have learned to try--and even like!--new things. 

Saurkraut, ginger tea, mushroom soup, beer, buckwheat, rabbit, svařák (mulled wine), corn and egg on pizza, and Christmas Carp (sorry, but the last one's not a like!). I went to a wine tasting at a small, private winery. I also went to a small town's annual beer festival, complete with a Queen cover band. (Can I say, the Czechs with me were shocked to discover that they knew more of the songs than I did!)

I have grown into perfect housewife material... or, just learned to feed myself (and often 20 others, in addition). 

I've learned to bake, cook, handle a budget, and keep my house clean (well, sometimes). I've had to buy my own groceries, pay rent... well, basically learn how to be an adult.

I have made a fool of myself. 

Anyone who's ever learned to speak a second language knows that full-on embarrassment is not only normal, but it's a given. I told our youth group that I turned a sweater into "panties," asked a cashier for "meat-sauce to put on birthday cake," called my guy friends women, and spent several months consistently mixing up the words for "excited" and "furious."

I have learned. 

I've learned how to function in a different currency, to speak a completely different language, to avoid cultural taboos, read a bus timetable, speak in front of an audience (yay, toastmasters!), and prepare lesson plans for students ranging from preschool to university professors. I've learned how to say "no" when I've taken on too much, how to stay strong when I don't hear from friends or family for weeks, and how to recognize which relationships are the most important.

I've realized that a visit to the US is really that: a visit. And even if I spend 90% of that time with my family, I grieve for that 10% of time I didn't have snuggling with the kids or playing board games with the adults.

I have recognized sad truths about the state of our church. 

I've realized that those who give the most time, energy, and money to missions and ministry are usually the ones who can spare them the least.

I have also seen beauty in the church. 

I've seen how people can come together to take care of a foreigner, and help her to feel included. (**cough**me**cough**) I've seen how people from different backgrounds and denominations can get together to worship God, and celebrate the gift of Jesus. I've seen the beauty of a group praying together, using different languages, and realizing that God understands every one.

I have fallen in love. 

I found my best friend: a man who treats me as his treasure, even though he knows my flaws and scars. A man who is--miraculously--even weirder than I am! (Yet is still level-headed enough to keep me grounded.) A man who wants to spend the rest of his life with me, and is as excited to learn about my country and culture as I am his.

Traditional womens' dress for this region

I'm sure if I spent more than an hour preparing this blog, I could come up with many more examples of how I've grown and changed since June 2013... but for now, I let it rest, and ponder about...

this strange new land. 

this strange new life.

this strange new me.