Uncomfortable Me

February 24, 2001

Today marks eleven years of me as a Mrs.

My first few weeks as Melissa Brotherton were confusing. Despite practice and planning, the name sat uncomfortable on my shoulders. The taste of it rolling off my tongue was strange.

Now I snuggle down into it like well-worn pajamas and slippers. I’ve embraced it as my identity.

Not once in my recent occasions to introduce myself have I said, “Hi, my name is Melissa Brotherton. It used to be Melissa Redmond, but now it’s different.”

Because that would be weird, right?

No one really cares what my name used to be, and there’s no point in them knowing. If I introduced myself that way people would walk away wondering what is wrong with me.

However…

I am kind of doing that.

Not with my name, but with other parts of me.

Because “me” is somewhat uncomfortable right now.

The Melissa I’ve always been is very different from the Melissa God has been shaping over the past year (or more). Last year I wrote about feeling pregnant with expectation, and the birthing process that would follow. I wrote about all those things and then forgot them as I labored.

Let me tell you, after four kids you’d think I’d understand the birth. This delivery was nothing like any of the others. It was painful; no one was there offering me an epidural or reminding me to breathe. It seemed never-ending; each stage had me worrying that I wouldn’t live through it.

And now that I know I’ve come through it, I’m missing that moment of connection. In movies the expectant parents always seem to wait until the delivery to discover the sex of their baby.

Birth is accompanied with a declaration of identity:

“It’s a boy!”

“It’s a girl!”

I have yet to make that declaration. God has shifted my world-view and altered my very being. The thoughts, reactions and behaviors that once came so naturally to me are missing, and the replacements are unfamiliar.

As I’m introducing myself to new people I’m met over and over with the same statement, “Really?” As I describe myself to people, they don’t see the person I’m describing. That person doesn’t really exist anymore.

Instead of boldly declaring who I am now — because it feels strange — I’m grasping for the comfortable that was. How confused Josh would have been if I had continued to introduce myself as Melissa Redmond after our wedding.

It’s time to start properly presenting myself as I really am.

Jacob wrestled with God, and walked away with a new identity.

Is there a time in your life where you have walked away from an encounter with God and known you were different?

Was it uncomfortable to acknowledge that new you?

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Five Minute Friday: in real life

Sometimes weeks, all I’m able to grab are these Five Minutes on Friday to link up with the community at Lisa-Jo’s place.

This has been one of those weeks.

Yesterday, my Baby Squishy Face turned three-years-old! We celebrated with chicken nugs, ziplines at the park, and ice cream! I’m so glad God gave me an Ezra!

Ezra - 1 day old

GO

Love stories end with a first kiss, proposal or wedding.

Babies are born in 30 minutes, and the new mom always look serene and beautiful.

Drama creates intimacy and builds passion in a relationship.

The tide always turns, the underdog always wins, the check always arrives on time.

This is not real life.

Real life is what happens beyond the first kiss, the ring slipped on a finger or the toss of a bouquet. When the shine comes off, the breath stinks, the legs go unshaved, the underwear is left on the floor and cupboard doors remain open. Pet peeves and personal quirks sting like mosquitos. At first you try to bat them away, but once you’ve been bitten you can’t help but scratch. Red bumps turn into open wounds and you have to learn to keep your hands off so that things can heal once again.

Babies grow and develop for months inside. They come on their own timing and never as quickly as you want. It’s painful, raw, gut-wrenching reality. There is beauty; there is calm and joy and love. There is also blood, sweat, tears and a really worn out lady. 

Drama, left unchecked, will not result in intimacy, but rather  in division and withdrawal. Life is about learning to be content in the calm, and discovering that adrenaline is fun, but will kill you if you maintain it at all times.

Real life is learning that TV and the movies have it all wrong. We have it much better.

STOP

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Standing at the Chapel Door

{source}

It’s my wedding day, and the idea that everything will be different from this point forward terrifies and excites me. Three years of dating had taught me a lot about Josh, but I knew marriage would be an entirely new experience.

Those years of dating were full of questions:

  • Was he the one God had for me; the one I would spend my life with?
  • Did we have similar ideas regarding marriage, family, finances and our futures?
  • Would he make me happy?
  • What if we got married — committed ourselves to one another — and then discovered some horrible secret or character flaw?
  • What if I was wrong?

Talking out our fears and anxiety, we wrestled with each question together and privately. Praying, seeking God’s direction, and believing that if we genuinely desired His will God would not steer us wrong.

So we arrived at our wedding day.

Curled, powdered and covered in satin, standing at the doorway to the chapel, I recognized the importance of that first step inside; there would be no turning back. Confidently walking forward, my arm looped through my dad’s, I welcomed the commitment ahead.

Over ten years have passed since that day, and there have been surprises and trials for us to work our way through. Not all the surprises have been bad, and the trials have made us stronger and closer. Never once have we given ourselves the option of running away from our commitment or doubting the path God has led us on.

Normally these types of posts are written on wedding anniversaries or birthdays, but mine is prompted by the similarities I am experiencing on the brink of a new commitment.

Over the past few months Josh and I have been wondering what God was bringing us to Washington for, and where we would serve once we were up here. We felt pressure and anxiety to find a new church right away.

Like my dating experience, the questions in my mind regarding our decision were all about me: 

  • Do I like the worship, preaching style, decorations and children’s programs?
  • What kind of opportunities do they have for me to use my calling and giftings?
  • Are they welcoming and friendly? Do I see people I’d like to get to know better?
  • What if we start going here and it turns out bad? What if they just want to use us?
  • What if we’re wrong?

We believe we’ve found our church

Today, I recognized that once again I am standing at the door to a chapel. The time for fear and anxiety is past, and my questions need to change.

On the day of my marriage, the only thing I needed to ask was: “How can I be a godly wife for Josh? What can I do to serve him?” No longer could it be all about me, because I was now one with another.

In committing to a church, much like a marriage, the question needs to be: “How can I serve the leadership and congregation of this church?” No longer can it be about what they do to serve me or feed me. We are told to be more concerned about the needs of others than ourselves. That we will be known by our love for one another.

My marriage has lasted over ten years because of my commitment to Josh and to God, and trusting Him to work in my relationship. If I had based it on my feelings and personal ideas of happiness, there might have been a few times I would have chosen to bail out. Today I am wiser, happier and a better person because of the things Josh and I have been through together.

I believe the same thing can be true as I commit myself to the leadership and fellowship of a new church family.

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Eight Ways to Keep Your Marriage {and Children} Alive

Last week, two of my close friends delivered their firstborn child within days of each other. Overwhelmed by the amount of cute baby pictures being tossed around on Facebook, I also remembered how overwhelmed I felt as a first time mom. Suddenly I was responsible for keeping another human being alive!

What if I dropped him?

How much should I feed him?

Would I ever sleep again?

There are many books out there that talk about caring for a newborn. I want to talk about caring for your marriage as you care for a newborn.

::

Jaime Hess @ Six Bricks High invited me to take part in the Family Life series going on at her place. Check out my tips for new moms (and dads) on ways to keep your marriage alive as you try to do the same with your newborn child…

I know some of you don’t have kids, or they’re older, but there are some good marriage tips in general {if I do say so myself, which I do}. 

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