on being good, thankfulness, & ugly tears

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This is my thankful tree. It came down today as we started setting up for Christmas, before I even got a chance to write on it. So I’ve been thinking about what I’m thankful for, thinking of what I would have written on the tree. Maybe “a good, challenging job” or “a warm home” or perhaps “dry shampoo.”But more and more this year when I think of what I’m thankful for, I don’t think of happy “family gathered together” or “children in my classroom with their hands up” mental pictures. I think about David and I think about raw, real moments… on our bed and in our living room… hard conversations, lots of tears. 

Marriage is teaching me a lot. All my life I’ve tried really hard to be good–be a good daughter, a good student, a good friend, a good teacher. I’m not saying that I’m anywhere near great at any of those things. But a lot of my life has been characterized by trying really hard to be good at things/relationships and evaluating my performance. And when you evaluate your own performance constantly you become convinced that everyone else must be evaluating you too. Because being good isn’t really enough… you also have to keep getting better.

We’ve only been married for six months and David’s already seen me in some pretty terrible messes. There have been so many times where I have not felt like the good/better/best wife I want to be. He’s seen me cry (…and cry… and cry), not the pretty kind of crying but the sorry-my-nose-is-running-on-your-shirt kind. He’s seen me crippled by anxiety. He’s seen me make bad choices, be selfish, and say hurtful things. And he still loves me. Instead of giving me that desired/dreaded performance review, he just loves me. He comes home. He holds my hand and tells me I’m pretty. And sometimes I’m so shocked, so utterly confused by this that that it makes me wonder if I really understand God’s unconditional love as well as I thought I did, when I can’t even comprehend it from another sinner.

So I’m learning. I’m learning that sometimes things really are just wonderful enough to be true. I’m learning that growing up isn’t about good, better, best… it’s about loving well and accepting that love in return. And I think if I’d written on the thankful tree this year, I’d have penned “love without condition” on every single leaf. Because even though I don’t understand it, even though I’m still working on accepting it… I’m so, so thankful.

p.s. love this by addie zierman: you don’t have to be good

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