Sunday, September 9, 2007

I don't want to get married until…

…I learn to be patient. Seriously. People who know me not only through my blog can attest that I'm terribly quick-tempered and easily annoyed when something doesn't go the way I want to. Sometimes I lash out on people. Realizing this caused me to nearly rip my hair out. What a terrible character trait for anyone, especially for a woman who sees marriage and family as her goal!

Alright, alright, self-flagellation over. I know I'm not perfect. I will never be. But I can improve, and become, God willing, a good wife and mother. The aforementioned quality is a good place to start. Flexibility, adjustment and patience are so important for a marriage that I can't help but think God gave me extra time so I can prepare.

I also feel I should praise Him for all things – including trials. Including things that test my patience. Without them, I wouldn't be the person I am today. Without them, how could I be shaped and molded according to His plan?

Anyway…
Here are some things I thought I could do:

* When I feel I'm going to lose my temper, I'm going to remain silent. If I can't say anything nice and peaceful, better say nothing. Even if it looks foolish or unfriendly, it's preferable to scathing remarks.

* I'm going to practice doing things that frustrate me; and I'm going to try to do them with a smile on my face! Examples: washing dishes, standing in a line in the supermarket, waiting for the bus.

* I'll do my best to be pleasant to others, even if they are unpleasant to me, and even if I'm tired, nervous or busy.

Any advice on how I can better accomplish all of this? I will also deeply appreciate it if any of you are willing to share your personal challenges about your character that you felt you had to overcome in order to become a better person, especially during the season when you were preparing to become a wife.

32 comments:

Shannon said...

Hi Anna,

There are some major things I have had to work on. One of the things I struggle with is depression. Now this in itself is not really a character trait, but it affects a persons demeanor and reactions to others greatly. Some of the things I do to help cope with this is to work with my hands. Whether it is writing, or crocheting or doing my artwork, it seems to focus my thoughts elsewhere and not into the depths of sorrow. I also struggle with mood swings which has some to do with the depression and I do take medicine for this, (although I could write a book about that subject.)

Much of our actions have to do with our thoughts. In the Psalms it says that as a man thinketh, so he is. Thinking, like many things, is a habit. It can become one full of good, productive thoughts, or dark, self-pitying ones. So for me, the key is to try to do things that bring on good thoughts. The bible-I believe it is Philippians- tells us to think on good, lovely things. I know that I even feel better physically when I think happier.

Coming from our childhoods that lacked a positive father figure and witnessing the struggles of a single parent, has affected the women we have become. Now I don't say this collectively, as there are reasons and then there are excuses. Yet, when young girls grow up under a stressed out, impatient single parent, authority figures flying off the handle (sometimes violently in my case), and not knowing what it means to carry out biblical roles because they've never been shown as example, have a heavy impact on a young lady growing up.

I think what you are doing, holding yourself accountable and confessing your faults is both biblical and shows a lot of good character. Things do not happen overnight, and we can't change overnight. It is with God's grace and hand in our lives that we truly change because we know we cannot do it alone,

Thank you for sharing your struggles. I feel that God is using you to do good things through this blog.

Anna S said...

Shannon,

I didn't even realize how profoundly I've been impacted by being raised by a single parent, until I grew up, looked around me and saw that the way we lived wasn't healthy. I don't want to blame my father's absence for all my troubles, but it's certainly a challenge and was a strong influence on me. However, I believe that in a way, it was also a blessing, because it allowed me to fully understand the devastating effects of forces that acted to destroy the family unit.

L said...

I hold grudges. It is/was so bad that on a performance review at the restaurant where I used to wait tables, one of the managers actually wrote that down. When people wrong me I can easily hold on to it for years. I'm struggling with it right now. The person said they were sorry. I thought that would help but I still feel sad/angry/frustrated. I want them to hurt as bad as they hurt me. I guess it comes down to it is hard for me to forgive some people.

When I logged on just now I had ever intention of writing a mean email to someone. I still might write it, but not send it. Just to get my own feelings down. Maybe I can find the root of why it is so hard for me to forgive people.

Mimi said...

we all have personality traits that could stand improvement...and the only way to improve is to be conscious of what effect our actions has on the people we are dealing with... and say a silent prayer that God will help us in this particular situation to be a blessing to him in our actions... this like all things is done One Step At A Time

Lily said...

Anna,
I, too, have struggled with this patience issue. It does go hand in hand with patience. I have no 'quick fixes' to offer, just some experience. I'm older than you...by about 20 years I'd guess. I have always struggled with tremendous patience issues. If I was making something I couldn't stick with it enough to finish...I was impatient. If I had a medical test done, I'd about go out of my mind waiting on results. All sorts of issues, daily, would make me impatient...lines, etc., as you describe.

Well, what finally taught me patience? A combination of two things...faith and illness. Someone very close to me was sick, and eventually died of the illness. What was I to do when a test was ordered? Wait. What was I to do when the person was near death at too young of an age? Wait for recovery. What was I to do when there was a bad turn in the illness? Wait. Because I loved this person so much, I learned how to wait.

What got me through the waiting...a quiet acceptance of the fact there was nothing, not a single blessed thing I could do to change anything, make things happen faster, etc.

How did I learn this quiet acceptance...faith, leaning on my faith. My Catholic faith taught me all things happen for a reason, and that illness happens for a reason. There is in fact quite a lot of information the Catholic church puts out about redemptive suffering. It helped me. I refocused myself on God, and I got through the worst thing I've had to get through in my life.

Now everyday things like losing your temper, being impatient, etc. are easier for me to cope with because I learned (the hard way) to accept that there is much in my life which I cannot control. I cannot control the traffic that makes me late, even when I leave extra time to get to an appointment. I cannot control the number of people who got on line before me. I cannot control the number of chores that need to be done now instead of later. I could stress over all that, and I have in the past, but I've learned through this horrible experience that it isn't worth it. Why get an ulcer or ruin my health? Things are out of my control. I find things to entertain myself and distract myself from my irritation over my impatience.

Always have things to do with you. If you are on a check out line you can read. You can make lists of things you need to do. You can balance your checkbook standing on line, etc. Think about your next blog topic. Pray. Repetitive prayer is very useful for patience. The rosary lends itself well to this. If you are not Catholic, I'm sure there is some prayer which would lend itself to the purpose. It turns your heart and mind to God. I've found offering to Him my irritations, it just takes them away.

Silence...that is the absolute best policy. Another technique that works in some cases is to just say, "Hmmm, that is an interesting point of view, where did you get the information you based that opinion on? I would like to research that some more." I find it works quite well. If the person is talking out of their ear, they cannot tell you where to get more information, it makes them think without you needing to say a curt word.

This is long enough...too long...if you want to discuss this further you can contact me through my blog. There is a link to my email addy.

You are an impressive young woman. God bless you,
~Lily

Karen said...

I agree with the above comment to always have something with you to keep you busy. I tend to try to avoid stressful situations as much as possible, but waiting for the bus and doctor appointments are much easier when I bring something to read. It just flies by then. That is a great key with raising kids, always bring something along for them to do. Like, my daughter tends to act out restaurants so I try to take her to ones that offer little toys or crayons. Sometimes you have to be really creative with that, and if you forget something you can invent a game. If they aren't busy, they're looking for trouble!

A read a book on anger management that really helped me a lot... it just basically said that other people have the right to free will, and you can't force them to behave. You just have to accept you can't control what other people do. All you can control is your own behavior.

Laura H. said...

Anna,
I too have struggled with that. I am not going to get married until..., but you know what, you will be learning things all your life, and sometimes it is better, to go into life, knowing you have those flaws, and he knowing you have those flaws, and you working together on the results!
I have often said, " I am not going to get married until I can keep a better house! Well, as far as I can tell, I keep a house relatively clean! Just not picture perfect! The man who marries me, will have to be understanding. I love to cook, and sew, so I am fine with those. I do not know how I will be as a mother. I have only been a sister, and a helper to my Mom, with the baby diapers and such! I know that in all things, the Lord gives me strength! And that is what we should be turning to, the Lord for the strength to know, we will not be perfect, except in Him!

Enough of my rambling! I believe in this strongly, and I hope this is helpful! God bless!

Anna S said...

Laura, I think you're right; it's not like I'm going to put my marriage off (not even for a day!!) until I'm some sort of perfect bride-to-be. But since I've already been given this period I have to wait, I want to work on certain character traits. I believe this is an important investment for the future.

Kelly said...

Anna, I'm in the same boat with lack of patience. I can tell you that from my experience marriage will teach you to be more patient. And babies will REALLY teach you to become more patient. Nothing like a husband who won't pick up his socks or a crying baby who needs you NOW to teach you patience. I too still need to work on things like that.
For me the old advice of counting to 10 really works for when I'm losing control. A few deep breaths and a simple, God help me out here always works when things are close to out of control.
And dealing with things that make you upset because of your impatience, like waiting in line, it's really just practice. Doing it over and over. I sometimes ask myself why am I upset? Do I really need to get out of here that quickly?
I've improved over the years and sometimes when my hubby, daughter, and I are stuck in traffic. (This past week several times) And I calmly say, hey we're in no hurry here it's okay. Let's talk about something and use this time effectively.

Just a side not here. I sometimes think that the reason God's timing was so off, in relation to when I married, compared to my own time table was my lack of patience. I spend years praying to get married and I always seemed to get the message of "wait" from God. Lot's of hard years in my 20's dealing with that. Looking back I can see why God's timing was perfect. I WAS too impatient in my 20's. If I had met, married, and had my baby in my 20's I can see how awful things could have become.
I'm not a paragon of patience now but when I finally met (age 29) and married (age 31) my husband, and had my daughter (age 35) I had not only improved but learned to lean on God a whole lot more.

Sorry that's so long.
God Bless,
Kelly

Anna write about this again about 6 months after you marry! :-)

Anna S said...

Kelly, I'm definitely looking forward to see how it will be like once I'm married and facing piles of dirty diapers ;)

I think that if we got married when we first met, it would have ended in a disaster.

AnneK said...

I think the one I struggle(d) most with is forgiveness. I hold grudges, give silent treatment, and am generally not very forgiving. But I learned that I will never learn to forgive by myself. I now pray and tell God, I am finding it difficult to forgive, I need special grace. And those prayers are always answered! I still have a long way to go. Sometimes I am put into stressful situations unaware, but when I know that I am going to deal with something stressful (e.g. a difficult conversation with MIL), I close my eyes and pray for a minute before starting to talk. It has made a lot of difference.

Anna S said...

Annie, I also struggle with holding grudges. I still pray every night before I go to bed for the ability to forgive everyone. It's much better now - at least if someone does me wrong, I'm able to put that person out of my mind soon enough.

Jenn said...

I struggled with honoring my husband. I probably should have waited to get married until I had conquered that one. Unfortunately I was holding him responsible for all the mistreatment I had endured at the hands of others, but I didn't realize it. We had been married several years before I learned how to honor him. But he was patient and forgiving with me. I am glad I didn't wait. And I agree with other commentors that I hope you don't expect to be perfect before you marry. Otherwise we'd all still be waiting!

Hugs,
Jenn

PandaBean said...

When I'm needing to "endure" something, I count. When I count to 100 really fast in my head, it takes about a minute. This is how I get thru' things that usually only take a few minutes, like a red light or DH's nightly back-rub (he has a bad back). This is also how I got thru' the first parts of my labour pains; I had read that they usually only last 90 seconds maximum, so if I counted to 90 really slowly, the contraction should be done by then, right? Unfortunately once the pain got so bad (they broke my water and gave me pitocin at the same time, now I know better!) I finally "caved" and got the epidural (praise God for pain medicine!) I couldn't get past 10! I ended up counting to 10 over and over towards the end of the painful part.

God Bless!

Brenda said...

Oh Anna, you're so funny! Do you want to know what my "season of preparing for marriage" entailed? I got an iron for Christmas, a knife set, and some dishcloths. I packed them away and started planning the wedding. We wrote love letters back and forth and counted the days. I did NOTHING to make myself a better wife. He loved me just like I was, right? It never occured to me to prepare.
I am so glad you think that way.
And the flawed character trait? All I can say is pray. He is faithful and will help. Blessings!

Kelli said...

I really appreciate your honestly, Anna. I think a lot of prayer and re-reading of this list will help you to accomplish things. I struggle with patience, holding grudges and not forgiving. When I am feeling grumpy (certain time of month) I remind myself that I need to be quiet if I can't say anything nice!
Great post!

I'm so glad that you and your mom are enjoying our magazine, thank you for your sweet comment!

Kelli

Alexandra said...

Wonderful comments, I have nothing much to say other than life is too short to get stressed out over things you cannot control. Course, easy for me to say, I have half my life behind me, so I've got the advantage of hindsight.

When you get married and have children it often teaches you to refocus your priorities. You and your needs stop being the most important thing.

I try to view life as a journey and make the best of what I have now. Hardship and adversity are just new opportunities for growth and learning.

If I think of anything profound, I'll come back. ;)

Jia said...

Great tips girl. I too have a hard time with grudges and it's an ever widening uphill battle.

Jia

www.newlywives.blogspot.com
www.semiholistichousewife.blogspot.com
www.fleetingglimpseofeternity.blogspot.com
www.fangirlrantings.blogspot.com

Anna S said...

Thank you for your wonderful input, ladies! It is especially helpful to hear from those who are already married.

Jenny said...

*smile* I relate to just about every lady here in some way or another! And I had to grin when I first read your post, becaus I was thinking, "And then, once you've 'mastered' patience, you'll get married, and learn there is a whole new side to patience! And then you'll have children, and learn another!" I have (nearly) 5 children, and my goodness. Each of them teach me a different form of patience. Long suffering seems to be the most common *grin*. But mainly, it is my lack of control over my temper (which comes from a lack of patience) that I need to work on. I think I'll use your suggestion of just not saying anything! (I can just hear my husband... "won't the house be quiet!" ) *laughs*

Gothelittle Rose said...

Everyone has something to deal with. I have some sort of hormonal bipolar tendency, with "up times" in which I can't do anything FAST enough and "down times" in which it's very hard to get anything done. After going through several different types of medication and picking up one or two permanent side-effects, I've decided to treat it through attitude readjustment, prayer, and my toolbox of coping techniques. Music does a lot for me. I'm physically a very sensitive person as well and the home environment, being familiar, decreases the load on my senses.

(I actually suffer on hot and humid days simply because our air conditioner is loud enough to be a strain on me when it's on for long periods of time.)

I have patience problems, but they aren't really MY patience problems. I've learned and accepted that there is a gap between what I truly am and what my hormones are doing to me. I also have ADD Inattentive, which is probably linked somehow to the hormonal mess. Anyways... I've learned to stop in a situation where I have to wait and am impatient and ask myself, "Why did God put me right here right now? Is there something He wants me to do?" Maybe some of what drives that thought is the video games that I play, in which if you're in for a long wait it's because there's something in the area that you have not done to fulfill part of the plotline yet. :)

Not sure if that helps you! But it's true that it will change over time. It's good for you to be working on it meanwhile. It'll change sooner and better for your efforts. People who are growing in God will naturally become more patient with age, and more unselfish, too.

Oh... something good to remember... Pile of dirty diapers? Nono, you try to never get a pile of dirty diapers. You always deal with it while you're in the changing process. Then all you've got is either a bin full of trash or a load full of clothes. A Diaper Genie (for disposable) or a specially-prepared laundry basket (for cloth) should help. :) Granted I used disposable, but I soon learned that, contrary to the descriptions of feminist alarmists, you only have one dirty diaper at a time. :D

Ways of Zion said...

If I had waited until I learned patience I still wouldn't be married, oiy I need to work on that!!!!!!!

Jessica Denise said...

Patience. They do say that it's a virtue. But, on the real, I used to be very impatient. I'm only 22 now, but back when I was a teenager, the combination of hormones and my already high maintenance personality. . . let us just say that I raged on. Getting to know God more and more helped me, of course. But . . .

one thing that helped me be more patient was having an eternal mind set. If I'm stuck in traffic, I have a few choices: 1. get angry and sit around angry for the 5 minutes or the hour that I'm sitting around; 2. make the most of the time that I have, realizing that there is little I can do to get out of it. That means instead of fuming or trying to get around the traffic (which usually makes the trip longer anyway), I just chill out. Times like these are an amazing time to pray, to sing songs to God, to call people I haven't talked to in awhile and catch up with them.

Of course sitting in traffic is only one example of times when people are impatient. But sitting at a bus stop waiting is a great place to get a good conversation with someone started and perhaps just show them love, maybe a spiritual conversation will arise, also.

My belief is that in light of eternity, a lot of things that we stress out about don't matter. Recognizing that helped me out a lot.

Now in my preparations to become a woman (which, to me doesn't only or even mostly include preparing to become a wife and mother, but also a good friend, a counselor writer, etc.), I find that I struggle more with issues of esteem - believing that I am worthy of love. I am certainly working on believing the things that God says about me.

Kristaline said...

Hi Anna,
I always thought of myself as a pretty patient, laid-back person... until I had chidren. A disobedient/stubborn/rebellious child will test your patience like no other (and if you are striving to become more like Jesus, this becomes a great way to overcome frustration/anger, etc.) So in other words, the Lord has used my children to show me that I still need Him so very much, that I still need so much change in me. It's really a good thing when we see and acknowledge our need, and we ask God to come and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9-10).

As for the overcoming part, I will share something that the Lord showed me when I was out detasseling corn (I'm a Midwestern girl). I have to be honest and say that oftentimes detasseling can be miserable work, physically speaking. The sun blazes, the corn leaves scratch, your feet and hands get blisters, etc. (The reason people do it is that it pays excellent money in a short period of time.) And it is very common to hear complaining coming out of just about every mouth on the crew of workers. I was no exception until one day it occured to me that as a Christian, I was supposed to "in everything give thanks" but all I was hearing from my mouth were complaints and grumbling.

I didn't know how to change that until I stopped to think about all the things I could be thankful for - that little, cooling breeze that just came through, for a little sprinkle of water from the pivot sprinkler system, a little cloud cover from the sun - and thank You, Lord, for the sun, blazing though it may be! And wouldn't you know, it worked! My whole attitude changed.

So it wasn't so much that I was losing my temper, but it seems to me that it's hard to be impatient or angry or frustrated if we are thanking God for the things/people He brings our way to refine us. The ugly stuff might come up, but when it's on the surface, then He can scoop it away, like purifying gold or silver. The change may not happen overnight, but if our heart's desire is to be pure, God is the one who orders our circumstances, to put us in a furnace, and He sits as a Refiner and Purifier of silver. He turns up the heat until the dross comes up, scoops it away, heats the silver again... until He can see His own image in us.

Don't get discouraged!

Elizabeth said...

Wow ... this is honesty! I have to make an effort to be patient too ... when I'm tempted to be impatient, I try to stop and ask myself, "How important is this thing I am getting impatient about? Is it more or less important than the people I'll hurt if I get impatient? How important will this thing be in 80+ years time and will it then be more or less important than the people I'll hurt ... ?" It puts the person or situation I'm tempted to get impatient with or about in perspective. Of course, I don't always remember ... but I do try! Likewise when I'm tempted to lose my temper and stuff ...

Jordin said...

Anna,

This IS honesty; thank you for sharing. It is so wise of you to begin "practicing" being patient and pleasant even when it's hard! If you're willing to work on it, God can help you--I know! ;)

I think I'll post something about what I'm trying to do to overcome my "issues" in marriage later on today. :)

Wanda's Girl said...

Patience is one of the fruits of the Spirit. It's promised to those who continue in God's will, as you are striving to do. Because of God's work in your life, you rock now. You'll rock harder with time, as you grow. :)

God bless you.

Dana

Stam House said...

very nic post!!!!
have you read "did I kiss marriage good bye from caroly mccully" don't let this title decive you! it's atuallya very nice book with practical thingto do during this waiting period also femimin appeal from CAroly Mahaney Is a very excellent book on ho wto be a Titus 2 women!!! I love those to book

PRayer is very important at this season of your life prayer for your own presonal growth but also pray that God will prepare your husband!

Lillian the Ponderer said...

Yep... I have a list (I mean an actual list on paper) of (big) things that I pray about, that need changing before I get married. There are 7 things on my list - I wrote it when I first started courting my sweetheart and I can see that 2 of the things are pretty much dealt with and the others... Well all I can say is "my life is a work in progress" - God has his own time and methods and being aware of our defects means that we can take measures to deal prayfully with them. Keep at it God is faithful (1 Cor 10:13 helps me a lot with my faults).

Kristy Howard said...

Wow, Anna, I can certainly relate to how you feel... except, I am married and still feel overwhelmed by all my faults at times!! I have always struggled with impatience and, like you, worried that my faults would ruin all my chances of being a good wife and mother!! I can honestly say that God works out our weaknesses with much patience on His part, and much cooperation on our part. As long as you remain open to correction from the Lord and aware of your weak areas (without constantly being discouraged about them), you will always grow and mature as a woman. Something about being a wife and mother has a way of rubbing off some of the rough edges of your humanity. :) But of course, the more you word on those areas BEFORE you marry, the better off you'll be... and your husband will thank you for it, too!

Clara said...

I've had a similar problem and what I've found helpful is to change the way I think about things. So standing in line is not a boring waste of time, it's a delighful moment when I can just be still and think my own thoughts without feeling guilty that there is something else I should be doing.

This doesn't help a bit with frustrating people, but maybe after all this extra soothing, meditative time you'll have had, you'll find you have greater reserves too draw on.

Good luck

Emily said...

Anna - I can relate very much to you, I am also a pretty impatient person and it doesn't take much to frustrate or annoy me! I'm glad you're trying to be proactive about this and taking steps to help.

I think the best thing that will help you is really emerse yourself each morning in the love of God - completely drench yourself. Remember what Christ did for you at the cross and really reflect upon that. Keep reminding yourself throughout the day. Because the best motive we have to combat against sinful tendancies is a passionate love for Jesus, which comes from knowing deeply how He loved us first. I know it's simple advice but it really is the key to accomplishing all your steps of action!

Blessings to you and all the best with this :)