Why Not So Happily Ever After?

Not So Happily Ever After

 

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails…” 1 Cor. 13:4-8a

When in a dating relationship, we’re quick to fight hard for the other person, for their happiness and well-being.  We’re conscious about being kind, polite, patient, and we give of ourselves until exhaustion forces us to surrender to our pillow for a full nights rest.  We think good thoughts, dream good thoughts, and speak good thoughts over the other person as we believe in them, hope in them, and endure with them.  “There Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” that will keep us from trying to make sure the other person is happy.

“I Do!”

After the wedding, we often shift from a selfless servanthood attitude to a selfish mentality that’s more demanding.  With all their imperfections, we longed for their time, their attention, and their love, before a commitment was made, only to allow our spouse’s imperfections to dictate our level of love after the wedding.  What happens to grace after the honeymoon?

Back to real life!

The awesome and the ugly things of life were present before the week on the pink sandy beach, so why are we surprised when both the good and bad continue after?  Real life with our jobs, family, friends, and hobbies was happening before the wedding too.  So are those more beautiful than ever sunrises and sunsets that we enjoyed through the eyes of new love.  They’re still happening, even when work resumes, when the babies come, and when the in-laws show up.  So, why do we stop enjoying time with the one we pledged our heart to?  When does the shift from selfless to selfish happen, and why?  When is it that we decide not to be each other’s hero anymore?  It’s as if we can no longer be best friends once we take on the title of husband, or wife.

It happens to all of us.

Step by step, one accusing thought leads to another, and so begins the dialog in our mind.  Instead of taking the thoughts captive, we feed the attacking whispers until they grow from an accusation to a guilty verdict before the other person knows they’re even on trial.

I don't remember you looking this way before the wedding, and you smell funny!

I don’t remember you looking this way before the wedding!?!?

AND YOU SMELL FUNNY!

The rose-colored glasses get traded, not for glasses that give us clearer vision, but for ones that distort with a darkened cloud of the “What about Me?” syndrome.  The more we listen to the whispers, the more our eyes get clouded by lies.  Little by little we begin to close our heart off to the one we said we would love for a lifetime–for better or for worse.  Did we really mean, “For as long as you make me happy.”?

Could it be that we’re placing an unrealistic expectation on another person to ensure our own happiness?  That’s a lot of pressure to demand from another imperfect human being.  If we’re willing to be honest, we have to admit that we ourselves can’t even live up to some of the expectations that we demand from others.

I think unmet expectations contribute to a lot.  We build a fantasy world in our mind about what life will and should be, and then we choose to live there instead of in reality.  After all, we always get to be right in our personal fantasy land.  Getting real with ourself will most-likely be the first unmet expectation that will disappoint us the most.  It’s easier to look through a microscope at someone else than to look into a mirror.  If only we could step into the messiness of reality by surrendering selfishness to embrace the adventure of living life together–with our own spouse.  If only we could find the enormous amount of courage that it takes to lay down the facade of our internal world and allow ourselves to be exposed for who we really are, a work in progress with equal amounts of imperfections as the other person.  Only then can we truly live in the land of “Happily Ever After” with the one we chose to partner our life with.

If they really knew me.

I also believe that many of us are fearful, not so much to love another person, as much as we fear being vulnerable to being loved.  The fear of letting someone get so intimately close that they can peer into our deepest thoughts and emotions scare us.  Many of us can’t accept ourself.  That leaves us fearful that no one else could either if we truly let them see us.  “I struggle with acknowledging my own shortcomings to myself, so how in the world could anyone else truly love me if they find out about…(fill in the blank)?”  We wrestle!  “If people really knew the thoughts I had to take captive, the things I get impatient over, and the things I’ve done in my past, they would never want me.”  Fear causes us to lock up our heart.  It causes us to demand the position of control.  Fear is a deadly enemy of trust and is a dark smoke-screen to truth.  Sadly, there are many marriages that exist only in the smoke.  They never come to know the freedom of living in the light of truth and trust.

When fear screams at us to run and hide, to push others away or control the boundary lines of how close they can get, let’s remember that it is satan that is the accuser of the brethren.  He not only accuses others but he is also the one who is reminding us of our own past mistakes and shining the spotlight on our own personal flaws.  This is the very moment we need to draw strength from God to face our past.  Remember, Jesus has already redeemed it.  Once we can accept God’s love and forgiveness, we will be free to acknowledge the areas we are still needing to grow, and grow we will, like a flower fully exposed to the sun.  If the accuser can’t get us to self-loath, then he will do his best to blind us to what others do for us by shining a spotlight on what they don’t do.  But, if we can come out of hiding from ourself, then we won’t be so quick to push others away as they work through their own imperfections and fears.  Grace can abound after the preacher pronounces two people “Husband and Wife”, and Ever After can be happy.

Happily Ever After starts today.

In the middle of the dishes, the house repairs, the screaming babies, and the hard to please bosses, we can choose to find the beauty of real life.  Sure, life gets hard, but in the hardships let’s not fail to see the truth.  We are a part of a great adventure.  We are laying a legacy for future generations.  Our actions and reactions today can cause a ripple effect that will last for many lifetimes to come.  Today, I can choose to love all the wonders that are before me – today – or I can slip away into my internal world and live a lifetime of lies.  If we live too long affected by the “What about me?” syndrome, we will die never knowing the elation of true intimacy–to know and be known.  The legacy we pass on will be a cloud of fearful smoke.

The choice is mine.  I can leave a legacy of love and commitment, or one of selfish ambition and deceit.

Married or single, let’s thank God for His love and for teaching us to surrender to Him.  If we can open our heart to God and allow Him to love us intimately, we’re more likely to love deeply and have the ability to receive love when it’s offered.

You never know when your part of this adventure will end, so purpose to take some time during the next sunset to reminisce about the day’s crazy adventure.  Give thanks for the one God allowed you to walk this journey with, as imperfect as you are.

God’s mercies are new every morning, so let ours be also.

~Shannan

Purpose to be each other’s happiness, then you can live Happily Ever After in both the awesome and the ugly things of life.

Wilted Hope – Is She Wrong To Dream?

The man sees her, then lays wilted flowers at her feet as payment for her.  Will she accept his minimal offer?  Will weariness cause her to relinquish hope?

Is it so wrong to dream?  Is it such a crime for Ruth to long for a hero?  To envision her knight riding in and rescuing her from the emptiness in her heart, and the black void in the back of her throat that swallows her breath before it reaches her lungs.  If only she could be the one to captivate him.  If only she didn’t bear the shame of a once has-been.  Oh’ she was radiant next to her forever love.  Since death’s sting, she’s now dirty from the fields and darkened by the burning day’s sun.  Her hands are no longer lovely, but callused from the chaff she has to weed through.  Years have passed and her eyes have witnessed society’s corruption.  Hope of obtaining anything more than her present circumstance is thin.

But there is a thread of faith still coursing through her blood. If she can just press on one more moment, one more hour, one more day, then maybe change will come.  If she had completely given up, she would no longer get up in the morning and taste a morning meal.  If she allowed the internal switch to flip to off, she would not even permit her eyes to open, but she does.  She gets up.  She stands to her feet, grabbing her aching heart as she forces air deep, deep, deep into her lungs.  Ruth tunes her ears to listens for the voice that’s been comforting her in this long winter season; and He speaks, “I walk with you.”  As long as she can hear Him, she knows she will be ok.  She whispers back, “Please guide me on the perfect path You have for my life.”  Then Ruth proceeds to live.

I’ve been told that because my standards are so high, the field of possibility for a “hero” is narrowed greatly.  Maybe so, but to broaden my standards would mean accepting the serpent’s lie spoken so long ago in the garden.  “Did God really say…?”  “Surely you will not die.” (Gen 3:1-4) To settle for what society says is good enough would make me like Sarah, who offered her maid Hagar to her husband Abraham to obtain her promised son.  Sarah tried to manipulate God and therefore planted tainted seed, and we are still paying a high price for her action today.

Ruth waited eleven years for Boaz to find her, to be her hero.  She waited and let God work out all the details that would turn her broken and tired heart into a heart that danced with joy again.  Even after she and Boaz met, there were still obstacles to overcome.  Before Boaz could rightfully marry Ruth, he had to get the first “close relative” in line to forfeit his right to her.  Boaz was a man of high honor, so he did so according to custom and law – he legally bought her.  She captivated his heart so much that he paid to support both Ruth and Ruth’s mother-in-law, Naomi.

Not unlike today, Ruth lived in a time when immorality and corruption infiltrated the land, but she remained a woman of virtue.  Though I’m sure her wait seemed long, and she witnessed many other widows being blessed with new lives, Ruth remained faithful to Naomi’s God and He blessed her far beyond what she could dream.

This story tells me that I’m not wrong in praying for a hero to rescue me.  My definition of “hero” is not like what Hollywood depicts.  I don’t believe in their “Happily Ever After” stories.  There is real life after the honeymoon and that life can be made wonderful.  My hero is not perfect, just God’s perfect for me.  He is not a reincarnate, nor a replacement of Warren.  He is his own man and he seeks God the best he knows how.  He recognizes that God is his source of courage and strength.  Because of this, he is courageous and strong – as he taps into his source.

“Then she said, “Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out; for the man will not rest until he has concluded the matter this day.” – Ruth 3:18

I would rather go to my grave hoping, than to settle for the counterfeit before the real.  Only God knows what His best is for me, and only God can put His stamp of approval, which is His peace, on the real.  So, I will “sit still” until I’m worth more than wilted flowers.

~Shannan Parker

2011, Keeping It Real!

*Read the entire story of Ruth, NKJV.

Chapter 3 – “Lotsa Luck!”

6/29/2010
“Put Your Dream To The Test”  Chapter Three Thoughts

“Reality…is the enemy of fantasies but not of dreams.” ~Rudy Ruttiger

“If You’re Depending On Luck Then All I Have To Say Is, “Lotsa Luck!”

There’s a prayer I’ve been praying for some time now, which I have written out and placed in my car.  I have been reminded of the value of this prayer as I begin reading this 3rd chapter of ‘Put Your Dream To The Test.’

Dear God, Grant me eyes to see, ears to ear, a mind to understand, and a heart to receive all You desire for me.  Father, teach me to be a true representation of a woman of God.  Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit in me as I seek You daily.

The topics of luck vs. reality, or fantasy vs. dreams, leads me to pray this prayer more often than I have lately.  I have to be willing to allow God to purge and mold me into His image; which I might add is a lot of hard work.

There’s a long list on pages 50-51 that I am working through; Fantasizers vs. Dream Builders.  I wish I could elaborate more for you on this list, but at this time it’s still an issue of that purging and molding God is doing inside of me.  I have no doubt that as time passes you will hear from me regarding thoughts and debates going on inside my head.  What I know at this moment is, I am trying to value this time God’s granted me as a time of preparation, instead of feeling guilty for taking it.  I am trying to listen and learn as I begin to take each step along the new path that is before me.

A fatasizer will expect to show-up on race day and run a successful race they’ve never trained for.  A dream builder will train and condition long before race day arrives and actually run the race strong.

13.2 Miles! Something, "I could never do," I did! 4/24/2010

When we, The Parker Trio, would start working on a new recording project, it was a long operation.  We would start writing and picking songs for our next recording while our current project was being duplicated.  It took no less than a year for the process to be completed.  Once we had our song list, we had to work with many studio musicians to create the rhythm in which we were feeling the song.  We’d have to experiment with our voices to see who would sing which part.  Often this would change several times, and sometimes it would change again when we finally made it into the sound-booth to record.  It was nothing unusual for us to practice three hours a day for six months to get our voices to intertwine in the harmony parts.  One vocal therapist likened the method to running a marathon with our voices.

Daystar Television Oct. 2005

Over the last few months the word that keeps coming to my mind is balance.  Chapter 3 seems to be a confirmation I’m heading in the right direction with these thoughts.  God tells me that I have been created for a specific plan and purpose, (Jer. 29:11-13).  The world leads me to believe I should be able to be successful at anything “I set my mind to.”  If this were true everyone would win when they try out for the show, ‘American Idol.’  Better yet, John McCain would also be president right now, along with all the other candidates that ran in the last election.  I don’t want to just be whatever “I” set my mind to.  I want to be all that God has created me for.  I must hear from others and learn from them, but I need to weigh everything with God’s word and listen for His direction and plan for my life.

“Rose-colored glasses are never made in bifocals.  Nobody wants to read the small print in dreams.” ~Ann Landers We must acknowledge reality in order to step forward with our dreams.

I want a truly happy, healthy family and home.  I do not want the make-believe dreamland version Hollywood offers.  After all, there is life after the “Happily Ever After.”  A healthy marriage or happy family cannot be built on luck.  When the weight of daily living presses in, couples have one of two choices, communicate or withdraw from each other.  When bills pile up, when children get into trouble, or even when something as simple as one is just having a grouchy day, love and communication will keep bad seeds from taking root.  If the bad seeds are ignored or swept under the rug, they will take deep roots long before you see the sprout break daylight.  Likewise, so will the loving seed that is cultivated.

https://i2.wp.com/www.public-domain-image.com/plants/flowers/slides/sacred-datura-flower-from-anza-borrego-desert.jpg

With Enough Care, Even Flowers Bloom In A Dry Season

Luck will not rescue you from something you are supposed to face and grow through.  There must be time spent in prayer, time spent listening, then communication to figure out a plan of action in order to come out strong and victorious.  I’m not minimizing the need for God’s divine intervention through many of life’s situations.  However, there are times we have to step forward in surrendered obedience before He will part the waters in front of us. (Ex. 14:16)

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Even Moses Had To Stretch Out His Staff Before The Waters Would Part

These thoughts just scratch the surface of all that chapter 3 has to offer.  If you have not done so already, consider picking this book up and reading it from the perspective of what big dreams await an awakening in your heart.

~Shannan