I've been thinking a lot lately about how much I have changed since this picture was taken.
I think I had a pretty good grasp on what to expect with marriage. I wasn't under the impression that it was going to be always easy and full of laughs. I don't think Kanyon and I ever went through that "honeymoon" phase where we were just obnoxiously excited to be newly-weds, only to crash down off that high later. Kanyon and I had known each other so well by the time that we got married. So we were pretty down to earth from day one. Don't get me wrong.. we were so happy to finally be married! But we didn't have misunderstandings that the other one was totally perfect and would never annoy us. I count that as a good thing.
This first year of marriage has pushed me to grow and humbled me more than I ever thought it would. I love Kanyon so much more than the day the above picture was taken. But that is because we had to go through some trials this year to peal off some layers that were stopping us from knowing each other more deeply. I'm not trying to let on that we had a hard first year or anything.. by most people's standards, our trials are laughable. And we would agree. We know we came out easy. Especially considering it could have been so much worse if I hadn't taken well to moving to the country with nothing familiar besides Kanyon and his family around me. And I mean nothing familiar. No classes to attend, no deep friendships (again - besides him and his family), not even a Starbucks! But thank the Lord (and I do) that instead of reacting how I could have, I fell in love with Welch and the people immediately.
But we did have to learn a lot about ourselves and each other that we could never have learned before because it took being married. And by "did".. I mean we still are. I know you older married couples are probably shaking your heads at how much we still have to go. I know we do. But if it feels this great to be on the other side of a trial together this time, I'm willing to keep going.
My relationship with God is stronger than it has ever been.
I have had three constants in my life up to January 23, 2010 (our wedding date) besides my parents and brother. That was school (I loved school), Young Life, and my relationship with God. All three vacillated between the number one spot in my life (just being honest). I found my identity in them. I was a straight-A student, an extremely dedicated Young Life leader, and a Christian. I had my unwritten resume ready when people asked what I was involved in. When I moved out to Welch, I had God and nothing else. My identity became being a Christian and "I just moved here, I'm Kanyon Brown's wife."
My relationship with God was weaker than I realized. Because most everything that I found my identity in was gone, I struggled to not let Kanyon be more important to me than he should be.
What I mean by that is I struggled to not expect from Kanyon what only God can adequately give me. Before we were married, it was so much easier to let God be the one who gave me my sense of confidence, told me I was beautiful, told me I was special. Because no matter how independent a girl looks, we all need to hear and know that. But then we got married and all of a sudden, Kanyon became much more important than he ever was to me and I let myself slip. But Kanyon is a human. He can't read my mind. He's learning how to be a husband for the first time, too.
The funny thing is I knew that it was something I would struggle with, even told people I was determined to not let that happen. But it came in waves. I had to strengthen my relationship with God before I could have a strong and healthy relationship with Kanyon. And Kanyon had some struggles of his own that He needed to strengthen his relationship before he could deal with. I thank God we've come through that season now.
When we first married and moved out here, my college friends would call and say so what are you doing out there?, excited for my new life. But I could feel a little disappointment in their voices when I would still say "oh you know, just working on the house, looking for a job" after I'd lived here for 3 months. It seemed it got even worse when I got a job. So what do you do besides work?, they would say. Um.. we hang out with our friends? While they were jet-setting off to Africa for the summer (seriously 5 of my friends did that), I was in Lamesa starting my new job at a church as a ministry assistant.
Let me clear something up though - I was not and am not jealous or wishing I could spend the summer in Africa. I was happy for them. While that was my desire at one time, I was sincerely loving the way my life had turned out and would not have it any other way. I was just wondering.. when's my turn to do ministry going to come around?
God very clearly told me "not yet." Not that I didn't try, though. I called the Young Life office several times, went to their huge fundraiser, signed up for Committee, e-mailed the office.. only to not hear a thing from any of the staff. I didn't understand it. People encouraged, even asked me, to start Young Life in our area. But without God helping me do it, that would be so hard. Its hard enough to be a YL leader, but to try start it and not have God behind you orchestrating it.. I never wanted to go there.
Eventually God did bring me back into ministry through my job at the church and through my first time working a Walk to Emmaus and a Kairos Prison Ministry. But not like I had planned. I had envisioned myself getting back in the throws of ministry, spending every day with a non-believer, living life with them like I did in college. I have a different outlook this time around. A very humbling outlook. God is not putting me back in ministry because He wants to use me as His tool (although I'm not saying He's not). He's putting me back in because I'm the one who needs ministered to. I'm the one that needs guidance from more mature believers. I'm the one who needs to be stretched.
I really can laugh at how much more I thought I was "stretched" than other Christians because of the experiences I've had. "Honey, no... you're not. Not even close.", says God. My own version of comfort zone was outside of some people's zones so I figured.. hey, I'm not in one! But no. Being different than the majority was my comfort zone.
I honestly never would have thought that Walk to Emmaus would be something I would do. Forgive me, Vaughn and Kalith, but it seemed a little too church-y to me. That's not my type of ministry, I told myself. I like the un-churchy types. (What does that even MEAN?!) That viewpoint changed a little after going on a Walk, but not completely. It wasn't until I said yes to working one and left my first meeting did God slap me in the face and say who do you think you are?! (in His loving way, of course). I was so wrong. My faith felt so inadequate compared to the giants of faith in that room in that meeting - not in a bad way, in a good way that made me think "thank you God for showing me how stupid and prideful I was!"
I went through college as a Bible major in the group that we self-labeled as the para-church group. Meaning we don't want to work in churches, we want to work in Christian non-profits or even non-Christian non-profits. But not church. That's just not us. We'll go to church and be involved, of course, but we minister to the un-churched!
Give me a break.
At least that's what God said. And then he hands me a job that is so ridiculously perfect for me that I couldn't have created it better myself. Except for one thing. It was at a church.
What have I learned through all this? I don't know that I could put it into words. I could say the usual phrases like God is so faithful or that He stretched me out of my comfort zones but I think you already knew that from my rambling above.
I think a better question is how have I changed? Which brings me back to my original reason for writing this post. And its so simple. My identity has become closer to being in Christ alone. Not completely. I won't kid myself and say that I'm even close. But its closer.
And yes, He is faithful to never give up on this prideful human. And yes, he has taken me out of my comfort zones. So I guess I did end up saying those, too.