Follow your map and no one else’s

1534289_10151799014316573_1371136033_nWe grow up believing that we’re each given the same map. It tells us where to go and when, and we believe that if we don’t follow the map, all hope is lost and our lives aren’t “right.”

The basics of the map are this: birth, happy childhood, elementary school, high school, college, marriage, babies, retirement.

But the truth is, our maps aren’t all the same. For someone like me, who assumed my map of life was the “normal” one, it took me years to learn and accept the fact that we’re all given different maps.

I haven’t always been pleased with my life map. There were times I begged God to give me a different one. For more than two years I begged Him for the heart of a man who I eventually found out was full of false promises and other lies. I begged God to move me to Indianapolis. I begged God to send me a man to marry.

And it was just a few years ago that I not only accepted the map God gave me, but I embraced it. These days I’m thanking God every single day for my life map. Why? Because it’s MY map. MY life. MY experiences. My map of life was tailored just for me by the one who loves me most.

It still baffles me that if I haven’t seen someone in years, and the first questions they will ask are, “Are you married? Do you have any children?” Then I sound like some sort of failure because all I can respond with is, “No. I just travel the world going on mission trips, lived in Uganda for a year, volunteer at a homeless shelter twice a week and have a job that I love at a nonprofit. But sorry, no husband or babies.”

I remember having a conversation with a few of my female students in Uganda. One of them was already fearing she wouldn’t get married. It sounded like a matter of life and death to her, although she was only a teenager. It killed me that she, like I had, felt that we all had the same map, and if you don’t find someone to marry by the time you finish college, all hope is lost.

All hope is lost? Although I went through years of feeling inadequate because I wasn’t married, I wouldn’t trade my life for anything. Now that I’ve fully embraced the life map that God gave me, everything has changed. Hope hasn’t been lost, it’s been restored!

Maybe you’re in the opposite position that I’m in. Maybe you did get married and start a family, and you haven’t done all the other things you wanted to do in life. I encourage you to embrace what God has given you, and pray that He will provide you with the opportunities you desire. He can make a way! Or, He will put your heart and soul at peace with not attaining the things you desire.

If you were going on vacation and driving to Texas, would you go to Google Maps and punch in Florida as your destination? Of course not. That map isn’t for you. That map won’t lead you to the happiness that awaits you in Texas. Stop trying to get somewhere that God doesn’t have as your current destination.

We’re all given different maps. Follow your map and no one else’s. We only find happiness when we follow it how God wants us to. Trust the map He’s given you.

“I will instruct you and teach you
in the way you should go;

I will counsel you
with my loving eye on you.”

Psalm 32:8

“Marriage sucks!”

Years ago I went out to eat with a male friend not long after the end of a relationship. It wasn’t just the end of IMG_1674any relationship, it was the end of a relationship in which after our first date I called my mom in tears and said, “This one is different. This is different.” And it was after our second date that my gut told me: he was “the one.”

I knew he felt the same way, because only a month or so into our relationship he told me, I remember exactly when and where and the tone of his voice, “I can’t wait to make you my wife someday.”

He never did make me his wife. In reality, he isn’t sure he ever even wants to get married. This was all made evident when we broke up. I was heartbroken and confused as ever.

But on a cold January night when I was out to eat with my friend, everything became clear.

We ran into three of my ex’s best friends. His “boys.” The guys he talks to on a regular basis. All of them are married.

Somehow my friend and I ended up at a table with these guys, and we got to talking about marriage.

“Marriage sucks!” one of them said. “I love my wife and family, but being married sucks!”

“I’m so sick of having to constantly report to her,” one of them said. “It’s terrible. I’m a grown man! I can do what I want!”

One of the guys kept pretty quiet, but did chime in at one point after one of the other guys said, “Women are crazy. Hands down. They’re all CRAZY.” He piped up and said, “Did you ever think that maybe we make them that way?”

The conversation shed so much light on marriage for me. Men hate marriage. As one of the guys said, “Marriage sucks!” No wonder my ex wasn’t excited about the idea of getting married to anyone- most of his friends and a lot of society tell us that marriage isn’t a wonderful thing. It isn’t about love and companionship; it’s more like a prison sentence.

I remembered that conversation from years ago after last week watching an online sermon called, “The New Rules for Love, Sex and Dating,” presented by Andy Stanley. He mentioned something about the “good side of marriage that no one ever talks about.” And I realized he was right- we rarely hear the good stories or what people love about being married.

While I was raised by a happily married couple, my parents, I realized I still kind of have a skewed view of marriage based on what I’ve heard, been through, and seen in society. I decided to turn to Facebook for inspiration. Marriage is a GOOD thing, and I knew there would have to be people who had good things to say about marriage and about their spouses. I ended up with so many responses that I can’t list them all, but here are some of my favorites.

IMG_5166These quotes come from people married for a few months to many years, Christians and non-Christians, men and women, and people from all sorts of walks of life. I hope these words encourage people who are married and those like me who are still waiting on their match:

“The love he has for me and the boys just goes to extraordinary levels when someone is sick or hurt…”

“I love knowing that she has my back in any and all situations, and even though I am her rock, she will be mine when I start to doubt myself. She will also be there to bring me back down to earth (when I need it).”

“I love being married for all the normal reasons that everyone gives, but the best reason is knowing that you never have to date again! No more awkward first kisses, dates, conversations, none of that. It’s nice to know someone loves you and has seen everything and willing to be there. For me, there’s comfort in the predictable.”

“I love that he vacuums the house and takes care of the car when it needs oil or fixing!”

“I love that God has one special person for me and that putting God first in our marriage helped our love grow and our relationship become what it is today. After almost 30 years of marriage, he can look at me and warm my heart. I still love holding hands and just being with him. And now, I love spending time with our beautiful family that was brought together through God’s love and grace. Being married isn’t always easy, but the rewards are great.”

“Just love the relationship we’ve molded over the years, great communication and understanding, the love, loyalty and respect that we have for each other. Being the young couple, people do doubt us, but it makes us stronger.”

“He knows what I am thinking or how I feel, sometimes even before I realize it myself!”

“I just love that I am with my best friend, day in and day out!”wedding5

“Love having history together. He knows why I react a certain way, because he knows the experiences that have shaped me. Also love being exposed to new things. Without (him), I would never have gone winter camping, on canoe trips, learned about identifying birds, etc.”

“I love that, when needed, you can take turns being the strong one.”

“I love that we’re on the same page about life. Where we are and where we’d like to be 10 years from now.”

“I like being married (to my husband) because I LIKE HIM. I like doing stuff with him- any kind of stuff. I like going to Home Depot and looking at faucets. I like going to the grocery store. I like going out to eat with him. I like riding down the road and talking non-stop… I just like him.”

“I love that he is my warrior. He has a heart of gold and is willing to do anything for me. He is willing to fight for me and my freedom, daily. We have our own dreams and goals, but we also have dreams and goals as a couple. I also love the little texts that he sends me every day, just to say hi.”

“I love that if he is home before me, at the end of the day I walk in the door and he will say, “Is that the love of my life?”

“I love that sometimes we can just sit in silence and just hold onto each other. It’s so powerful to know that someone gets you and sees your good and your bad and loves you anyways!”

“I love being with my best friend. I love that he is a man of God, and that we make each other better people. I love that he is such a wonderful leader and protector for our family.”

28309_396535656572_5388461_n“Sorry, it’s not just one thing. Companionship, the joy (she) brings to our marriage, and her many acts of kindness.”

“In my marriage, there is unconditional love. I was completely sighted and in good health when we married eight years ago. Since that time, we have encountered a rare eye disorder that is stealing my sight, and I’ve had to battle rare health issues (for my age). My husband married me, never knowing he would face these issues with me and that his wife would become visually impaired… My husband has sacrificed his own desires to satisfy mine and has shown me unconditional love. Simply put, he has honored his marital vows.”

“I love that my husband’s not perfect, because neither am I, and that makes us perfect for each other.”