Earlier this year, a friend at church blessed us with a wonderful gift. They signed me & Craig up for Intimate Encounters. Intimate Encounters is an 11-week marriage study designed to strengthen your marriage by putting God in the middle of it.
Craig & I have been wanting to do this for quite some time now, but always found excuses. Once we had someone sign us up for it, we no longer had valid excuses.
I'll be honest (as I try to always be here), I wasn't a fan at first. Not that I wasn't enjoying the study, but I felt as though we weren't really 'connecting' with the others in our group. They weren't our 'people'. I pressed on because there was some GOOD stuff.
The major lesson that I learned was where my irrational fear of Craig leaving was coming from. I have had this overwhelming fear that one day Craig will wake up and realize he's made a mistake by marrying me and just leave. It's not that we don't have a good marriage - we do. It's just this fear. Because of this fear, I've really held back with opening up to him. Allowing him to truly be my best friend.
So, what did I learn, you ask?
Before I write my lesson, please understand that I, in no way, am placing blame on anyone. This isn't going to be a bashing of how I was raised or anything like that. It is simply what God has revealed to me.
As I've said before, growing up was pretty rocky. My parents didn't have the best marriage. I can remember several times when I was younger, that Dad moved out a time or two. I can't remember why or the length of time that he was out of the home. I just know that there were several times he was gone. Over time, my relationship with him became one of just tolerance. I tolerated his presence when he was at the house. Eventually, even though he lived at home, I viewed my family as myself, my mother and my 2 younger sisters. I just never knew when/if Dad was going to be home. I didn't really care.
Eventually, my parents did separate permanently. Mom met someone else and decided to leave Dad. While I wasn't necessarily thrilled at the situation, I thought for sure that Dad would move out and that would be that. We would all get on with our lives. That did NOT happen! Dad dug in his heels and refused to move out of the house. Therefore, Mom moved out. Even though I was 21 years old at the time, I saw this as my Mom abandoning me. You have to know, up until this point, she was my BEST FRIEND. She moved out, didn't take us with her, and left us with this man who was a stranger. I was SO angry!!! Not only did she abandon me... she replaced me. You see, the person she met reminded her SO much of me. Being young in my maturity, I saw it as though she replaced me.
The 2 people that I loved most in the world.... Dad was in and out of the house all the time and Mom eventually left and replaced me. I had a fear of abandonment.
I write all of this to say, that while I may have felt alone in my earthly family, my Heavenly Father never left me. He never abandoned me. He will never abandon me. He blessed me with an amazing man who loves me so very much. One that promises that he loves me, 'til death do us part.
It's been a slow process. 39-years of holding things back is a hard habit to break. But with what I've learned in Intimate Encounters, growing closer to God and growing closer to Craig is that some things are worth taking risks for. My marriage is certainly one of those things.
I love my parents and am so grateful at the life they gave me. The foundation that they laid for my walk with Christ.
I am working on myself... I am working on trust. I am a work in progress. Ever changing.