Friday, October 4, 2013

A Letter to My Newlywed Self

Today I read a blog that I subscribe to called Hot, Holy & Humorous, and she had written a recent post that contained a letter that she wrote back in time to her newlywed self. She was inspired by the following letter that she'd read on another blog. This lady, Debi, wrote a letter with thoughts and advice for her 19-year-old newlywed self with the perspective she now has at age 54.

Dear Debi,
I know you are afraid of all the changes about to take place in your life–moving away from all that is familiar to embrace a new life with Tom. Having only dated for the past 8 months, it’s to be expected that you’re nervous. But God has given you everything you need to be the wife He has called you to be. There will be days ahead of loneliness and uncertainty, but God is going to use this time to draw you and Tom closer together.
You may think you know Tom, but the years ahead are going to reveal how much you don’t really know him. And he will soon discover that he doesn’t really know you either. Your romantic ideal will be tested because true love isn’t based on your ideals, but on reality. God has chosen Tom to be the one with whom you’ll share all of life–the good, the challenging and the heart-breaking moments. Be brutally honest and self-disclosing. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you into all Truth. Even when the truth you are discovering about your heart and Tom’s heart tempts you to despair.
God hasn’t brought you and Tom together to live a perfect life. He has brought you together to help you grow more in your relationship to each other and to God. As iron sharpens iron, so too, will your husband sharpen you.
Don’t neglect your relationship with the Lord. Allow Him to be the One you depend upon for all things. Your husband was never meant to be your Savior. He is your companion and the One with whom you will walk side-by-side closer to the Throne of Grace as each year passes, but only God can fill the role of Savior.
Children are going to attempt to put a wedge between you. Your time will be consumed with training the next generation, but don’t love them more than Tom. Be always conscious that your marriage is primary and lasts your entire lifetime, while the throes of parenting lasts only for 20 – 30 years. Be diligent to keep the home fires burning so that when your kids are grown you will have a strong friendship to support the changing season.
Seek others who can give you godly counsel as to how to be the best wife you can be. Read great books on marriage. Spend time praying for Tom daily. Do all you can to resist the temptation to hide your motives, your fears and your failures. Tom needs to know the real you, not the one you want him to see. Don’t worry so much about outward appearance, but focus on the heart. Let Tom teach you how to be a servant who doesn’t need the accolades of men.
You may not realize it now, but Tom will become a deep source of wisdom in your life. Don’t waste time second-guessing his leadership, but trust his ability to hear God. You may think he’s the man of your dreams, but you will discover he is much better than anything you could have ever dreamed or hoped for.
Most of all, don’t measure your marriage by the marriages of others. Love is a choice, not a feeling. Commit to love Tom more everyday regardless of how you feel, and find creative ways to express it. Be uninhibited and unashamed in your showing your love to him. Let your yes be YES, as often as you are able.
Enjoy your marriage and remember above all that it is a reflection of Christ’s love for the church. Every choice you make is meant to glorify God. Keep this as your focus, and it will enable you to do and say things that will build your marriage, instead of saying things that will tear it down.
Let God’s Word dwell in your heart richly. It has the power to lead you and guide you in your daily choices in a way nothing else can. It is the best marriage manual you will ever read. Heed it’s wisdom above all other earthly wisdom.
Most of all–delight yourself in the gift of marriage. Have fun and share what you discover with others!
If you do these things, you will be greatly blessed.
Debi Gray Walter, age 54

Photo by Daniel LaBelle Photography

I decided to try my hand at writing a similar letter... with my first wedding anniversary only two days away (YAY for a year under our belts! I pray there are many more to go!), I thought it might be a good exercise. So, without further ado:

Dear Newlywed Christi,

I may not have much wisdom to share—it's only been a year. But I will share with you what I've learned so far.

Give him grace. No, more grace than that. No, no, even more than that. No, really, stop being so nitpicky. He may not have washed the dishes or ran that errand like you asked, but he's a godly man and he's working really hard to provide for you and your child (yep!)—just because he loves you. Remember this quote by Elisabeth Elliot's husband: “A wife, if she is very generous, may allow that her husband lives up to perhaps eighty percent of her expectations. There is always the other twenty percent that she would like to change, and she may chip away at it for the whole of their married life without reducing it by very much. She may, on the other hand, simply decide to enjoy the eighty percent, and both of them will be happy.” Remove the "or-else-ness" from your attitude toward Eric. Give him the grace you've been given. You will both be much happier. Be a blessing to the husband God gave you.

Trust God with the future. Clearly, I'm writing this letter to you, which means I'm still alive. And I can confirm that God has provided all I've needed. So all that worrying you're doing? It's really a waste of the precious time that you have so little of. Eric will find a good job in God's timing. You will have food to eat. God loves you more than you love yourself, so you don't need to worry! Really! Remember you can't trust your emotions. You CAN trust God. Don't doubt Him. You can't see the whole picture.

Breathe. It's really not the end of the world. Keep a quiet heart. Let your Jesus calm those fears. He's an expert at getting His people out of seemingly impossible situations. That's what He does. Remember the manna. And the kleenex. And Ruth! And Joseph! And Daniel! And those kids in the furnace!

Don't wait to serve the church together. It might seem that you don't have time, but when will any of us ever really have time? Serving together will strengthen your marriage. It really will! You don't have to sign up for every ministry—just pick a couple and do them well! It really will bless your relationship. And let your care group care for you. That's what they're there for. Be real with them.

Let God write your to-do list. Everything will be much more peaceful in your heart if you do. I hate to break it to you, but I'm pretty sure there will not be a single day of your first year of marriage that you actually complete everything on your to-do list. LET THAT BE OK. Let God write your curriculum. Good lessons and good new relationships will come out of it. I promise.

You're going to get pregnant. And everything will change all around you. And that is ok. Less than a year from now, your friendships will change—some of your dearest will move away... some new friendships will slowly develop... some will marry or have children. You will become pregnant, and you will move to a new home unexpectedly in a bit of a whirlwind. It might feel lonely sometimes. It will feel exhausting a lot of the time. But let it all happen. Remember: let God write your curriculum. You will be ok.

Eric is the leader of your family. Also, Eric is not Jesus. Submit to him. Trust his leadership. Following his lead is trusting ultimately in God's provision. Encourage him when he takes steps of leadership. However, Eric is not Jesus. He will sometimes fail. He cannot save you. Lean on your Jesus and trust in Him always—when Eric is leading well, and when he is not. Jesus never fails, and He is the only One that can be your Savior.

Well, I've rambled on enough, I think! That's enough for one year of lessons.

Your older self,


What about you? If you could write a letter to your newlywed self, what would you write? Or what would you write to your younger self?