If only I learned this years ago….

14 Mar

It’s a common phrase isn’t it?  We’ve all said it.  We’ve all heard others say it.  And we’ve all contemplated how our life would be different if we only knew then, what we know now.

This has never been more true for me than in my marriage.

If I only learned years ago, like 12 years ago, that unconditional respect was a command in Scripture and how to speak and act in a way that was obedient to that command…. my marriage would have been SO different the first 10 years.

Maybe, I wouldn’t have felt like I married an un-romantic dud.

Maybe, I wouldn’t have treated my husband like he was my child.

Maybe, I wouldn’t have thought I was just as much the head of this family as he thought he was.

Maybe, I would have submitted with joy to his ideas instead of insisting that I was always right and so much smarter than he was.

Maybe, my husband would have listened to me more if I was more careful with his feelings.

Maybe, my husband would have talked to me more intimately if he felt safe enough to be vulnerable with me.

Maybe, we would have really been “best friends” instead of just trying to say that we were because it sounded right.

Maybe, my husband would have met more of my needs because he would have felt more fulfilled too.

Maybe, I wouldn’t have been tempted to entertain emotional attention from anyone else.

Maybe, I wouldn’t have been so jealous.

Maybe, we would have had lots and lots of hot and passionate sex.

Maybe, we would have learned to enjoy each others hobbies and looked forward to doing things together instead of him appreciating his time away to do his own thing so frequently.

Maybe, we would have served each other selflessly instead of expecting our feelings to trump the others.

Maybe, my husband would have helped me more around the house because he wanted to instead of digging his heals in and ignoring me.

Maybe —- this list could really just go on forever and ever and ever.

This isn’t just the case with my marriage.  I feel this way about a lot of things in my life.  I’d love a time travel machine to do it all over again.

But.

I don’t think entertaining “if I’d only learned this years ago” is where Jesus wants us to camp out with our thoughts.

I certainly won’t take credit for this phrase because I didn’t come up with it… but it’s incredibly true.

Everything we face will either make us BITTER or BETTER.

We can wrestle with the shoulda, coulda, woulda’s in our mind and maybe we don’t feel like at the end of the day we feel “bitter” about it.  We just feel like it would have been such a different life if we’d only known.

Bitter does seem like a strong word when reflecting, however, what if it isn’t as strong as it sounds?  What if, it really does trap us with negative memories when we reflect like that.

Secretly, do we kinda resent some of those situations still? Do we still feel like it was a negative time in our life?

I know that even though I love my husband beyond belief and have totally forgiven him and been forgiven by him for the mistakes we made in the beginning of our marriage— if I sit and really think back on some situations that were really hard in our marriage, I can start to feel hurt again.

There is one memory in particular of a time when I felt devastated.  And this one really bothers me because I didn’t feel like I “deserved” it.

You know what I’m talking about…. there are memories where you can see why he said something mean because you said something mean first.

This wasn’t like that.

In fact, we’ve talked about it numerous times over the years and he has even said the phrase “if that happened today, I would NEVER do it like that again.”

I know he wouldn’t.  And yet, if I dwell on that memory for ANY amount of time, the hurt tries to push back in.

Christianity is all about being intentional.

We don’t “accept Christ” accidentally.  We don’t just miraculously grow closer to Him just by being alive.  We don’t stumble over an open Bible and learn.

And we don’t become BETTER without being intentional either.

What if…. it was a good thing that we didn’t have marriage all figured out before?

Please don’t misunderstand what I’m about to say.  I don’t think we should keep engaged couple uneducated so they can live the wrong way for a long time because that’s better for them.  Of course that is not better at all!!!  We’re crazy if we keep this knowledge to ourselves and do nothing with it to benefit other believers!!!!

But – God wastes ABSOLUTELY nothing when it comes to our lives and experiences.

Walking through failure, especially in marriage, gives us an irreplaceable way to learn patience, forgiveness, mercy, grace and self-control.

Not only does this further our understanding of what Jesus has given us, but it grows our characters in a way to advance the gospel that can be some of the most powerful testimonies ever!

Of course if we never sinned in our marriages, we’d be an awesome example of getting it right and that God’s way is perfect and beautiful.

But getting it wrong gives us the chance to be BETTER and reach couples just like us who also got it wrong and need the truth.

Practical Application:

If only I learned this years ago….. I wouldn’t know forgiveness like I do today.

If only I learned this years ago…. I wouldn’t be able to relate to wives out there who have blown it big time just like me.

If only I learned this years ago…. I wouldn’t be nearly as aware of just what it took for Jesus to take all my sin to the cross.

Of course, getting it right in the first place is best.  But getting it wrong can lead us to a beautiful place of BETTER.

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12 Responses to “If only I learned this years ago….”

  1. Renee March 14, 2014 at 8:07 am #

    Although I am not currently married, I was 15 years ago and may be again one day. I think these words ring true despite marital status. My path to the Lord has not been smooth, but was paved, I’m sure, deliberately tailored to the lessons I’ve needed to learn. Thanks to my freedom of will and my stubborn nature, I’ve needed my bumps to redirect back onto the path, not from it. I feel as though today is a new day to correct my course, because if I truly repent for my potholes, I will be forgiven and the way will be revealed to me by the light.

    • Kayla Gulick March 14, 2014 at 8:23 am #

      That’s awesome insight Renee! And so very true that this isn’t just a message for marriage. Praying for you today.

  2. howsyourlovelife March 14, 2014 at 11:46 am #

    We are walking this fine line with out small group for engaged couples – trying to show them that marriage is hard work, but worth it, and that they are on the same team. The looks we get are wide-eyed and not yet understanding what we are talking about. I think my biggest goal with them is to remember when they do mess up that we did too, and God can work through it if they will allow it.

    • Kayla Gulick March 14, 2014 at 11:55 am #

      Amen! I so wish I could be apart of that class…. it’s just, too awesome for words. I love what you’re doing and how God is gong to use it!!!!

  3. Maria March 25, 2014 at 8:53 am #

    My boyfriend and I are celebrating our six month anniversary on Thursday. One of my greatest sources of joy in reading these type of blogs/books is that fact that I am learning this all before I get married. How absolutely blessed I am. Just LEARNING about these things is going to make my marriage so much better than it would be if I didn’t know this stuff. I don’t know how I stumbled into learning this stuff because I certainly wasn’t taught it in person by anyone. Thanks so much to you and April and all the commentators who give me such great advice!! – Maria

    • Kayla Gulick March 25, 2014 at 9:03 am #

      You are going to be SO blessed!!!!! God had a divine appointment for you… and your marriage will one day be beautiful and the testimony to others will be powerful. Thanks for sharing here. It gives us encouragement to keep posting when Satan tries to convince us to stop!

      • Maria March 25, 2014 at 10:31 am #

        Thanks, Kayla! I am the only person my age (19) that knows about this stuff and it can be kinda discouraging but then again, people on campus always comment on healthy our relationship is, which is super encouraging! Please don’t ever stop writing; I literally am on either yours or April’s blog every single day, constantly reinforcing and reminding myself. Thanks SO much!

      • Kayla Gulick March 25, 2014 at 10:34 am #

        Pray about the Lord rising you up to lead a Bible Study on this material. April’s working hard on a conference, book and study material that will go along side. Take that discouragement and ask God how He wants to turn it into encouragement for you and others. I don’t ever think anything is vain. You are learning this now because God needs young leaders JUST LIKE YOU to rise up, and spread the good word. Get prepared now… you’re going to be used big time 🙂

      • Maria March 25, 2014 at 10:39 am #

        Wow, Kayla, do you really think so? I honestly never even thought of that. But I am actually in an ideal place (a solidly Catholic university). I have a TON of questions (like how do you teach something like this without seeming prideful, etc) but for now, I’m going to keep praying and being open and continue to learn as much as possible about this.

      • Kayla Gulick March 25, 2014 at 12:10 pm #

        Yes – I absolutely think God will use to share this with others.

        The best way to teach without pride is to remember two things.

        1.) You have to crucify your flesh over and over and over again (every day multiple times a day if needed) whenever it feels like you might be giving into the temptation to teach so people see how much you know.
        It is never fruitful ministry when we teach to seen for our knowledge.
        HOWEVER!! It is always fruitful ministry (no matter if it’s a class of 3 people, or 1,000) if we’re teaching because we love God and love the people we’re sharing with and want them to grow with us.

        2.) Speak honestly. When you feel tempted, be honest. When you mess up, share that. The more real you are… the more people see themselves in what you’re saying and they grow hungry for the truth.

        I hope we get a chance to talk more on this and meet face to face some day. I’d love to encourage you as you get a group started some day! 🙂

      • Maria March 25, 2014 at 1:05 pm #

        I have been thinking about this pretty much non stop since you mentioned it and am becoming more and more open to this idea. I think that I would need more time and more work on myself, though, after all, it’s my first relationship and I’m only six months into it. But I really feel like I’ve learned A LOT about this. From April, I have truly learned a love of Scripture and applying God’s Word to our lives. From you, I’ve learned the beauty of stark, honest confession. Honestly, it’s so encouraging to hear you sharing your struggles. I would definitely love to keep in touch about this. My biggest fear is that the people I know will hear about this and be like, “Maria’s teaching about relationships, what does SHE know? Who does she think she is?” As you can see, I over-think and worry too much about what people think of me.

      • Kayla Gulick March 25, 2014 at 6:25 pm #

        The truth? Many people ARE going to think that. I have very few people who know me personally who read my blog. Most of my readers I’ve never met in person before. Even Jesus had a hard time teaching in His hometown.

        And – you don’t know anything on your own. You know what you know because the Holy Spirit has revealed it to you, through insights – scripture- other women and blogs…. so those who trust that God does the teaching, will be the ones who run to your teaching.

        Remember what Paul told Timothy… “Don’t let anyone look down on your because you’re young. Be an example!”

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