25stories: beth


At 25 Beth was busy preparing for the birth of her first child. Due to a ruptured appendix a few years earlier she'd been warned that she may be unable to have children, and was so grateful the doctors were wrong. She was focused on a healthy pregnancy, safe delivery, and transitioning from living on two salaries to just one. From the outside Beth seemed to be living a good life with a happy marriage, but she knew better. Struggling with discontentment in her marriage, Beth had begun to resent the faults she saw in her husband and blame him for the mediocre state of their relationship. She was consumed with the ways in which her life and marriage were falling short of what she felt would make her happy.

When her daughter was born things began to shift in Beth's heart. She started to pray daily for her daughter, her future, and the man she would marry. Her view started to move away from her own personal happiness. Instead she looked around and saw how immensely she had been blessed with her husband and daughter. For the first time she began to really grasp how generous and merciful God is, how incredible it was that he sacrificed his son, and that life is not about her happiness. Where before she'd seen hindrances to her happiness, she began to see opportunities to grow in her faith.

Armed with this new perspective, Beth looked at her marriage differently. Rather than it being a vessel for fulfilling her desires, it became the place where God trained her for holiness. Her relationship with her husband could teach and grow her unlike any other relationship. It allowed her the chance to live in unity, forgive without limit or expectation, love and serve sacrificially, and to embrace difficulty. The faults she'd once seen and resented in her husband she now saw as valuable differences. Beth understood that God knew her infinitely better than she knew herself, and he'd given her the perfect husband. Though their differences often caused conflict, they were the ways in which she and her husband could balance and strengthen one another. After so many years of focusing on how marriage was not making her happy, Beth was beginning to see it for what it truly was. It was an opportunity to reflect Christ's love for his Church. So far from being a means to personal happiness, it was a chance to live in faithful humility and glorify God.

In the years since, Beth has taken these lessons about God's grace and learned to appreciate the blessing of living a life that honors him. She's focused on loving and serving her husband, slowing down to soak up time with family, and pursued Christ more wholeheartedly. Beth has learned to look beyond her own pride and selfish desires. She's seen her need for God's grace and guidance and for her husband as a companion and partner. She's loosened her grip on her expectations, and found rest in the abundance of God's perfect provision.

*****

It's easy to fall into the belief that life is about finding as much happiness as possible. When things come into conflict with that pursuit it's tempting to get angry and push them aside. If something isn't easy and pleasant then it's obviously not right. That's what I want to let myself believe, but it's not true. It's the challenges, the times of suffering, the relationships with rough edges. They reveal my strengths and weaknesses, highlight my reliance on God's graces, and push me further into community. But for that to happen I have to open myself up to it. My natural tendency is to shut down, to resent the hard parts of life. When I do that I'm losing out on the chance to move past them and see the blessings on the other side.

Life isn't about eliminating all challenges to my happiness. It's about looking past my desires and seeing the life God has for me. A life of peace, joy, and complete satisfaction. One lived to point away from myself and glorify him. God knows me completely, and he will provide everything I need. Contentment comes from knowing that everything I have is a gift and that every day is an opportunity to cherish it. Real happiness comes from knowing that every single part of my life was purposely put there to strengthen me, and being grateful for that truth.

In my 25th year I will remember that happiness is found when I look beyond myself. 

25 Stories is a series I'm writing as I prepare to turn 25. I'll be talking with twenty-five women and then sharing their stories. I don't have much figured out about life, but I know that I learn some of the best lessons by listening to the stories of those around me. See more here. 

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