REPOST: Believing in Him

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Image found here

For some reason the other morning I found myself reflecting upon the people in my life who’ve ‘believed in me’ throughout the years.

I thought of my Mom and her never-ending encouragement over art projects or creative ideas, or for listening to my class president candidate speech for the hundred and fiftieth time.  I also pictured my little brothers cheering me on before my seventh grade cheerleader audition.  (Yes, one of them even would take pictures of me with his newly beloved Polaroid camera as I practiced my toe-touches).  Or my Dad for all the times he said, “Baby, you don’t need to be worried about (fill in the blank), you can do anything, you can stand on your head for two weeks if you have to.”  Not sure of that logic but it always sounded encouraging…especially when I had two weeks left to finish an exhausting thesis project and no more belief in myself.

I thought about our family friend Lisa and how she trusted me with her kids as their first babysitter when I was still a kid myself.  I gained so much courage from being trusted in and believed in by her and her children.

I thought of my friend Katherine and how she believed in me during college and trusted me with a platform to use some of my creative gifts and thus gave me a chance to blossom and shine in what I was created to do.

I reflected on my first employer Doug and how I truly wouldn’t be who I am today if not for his belief in me and the opportunities he offered me by hiring me to help him start a non-profit.  I never dreamed of doing some of the large-scale events I was able to do for him.  He had tremendous faith in me, and I was given a chance to really flourish.

I then started to think of my husband.  I could picture faces of people who I knew had believed in him and shaped him along the way.  His mother, his old boss, his camp counselor, his master’s thesis advisor, and then….you guessed it…my face came to mind.  (At least I hope he has felt me believing in him). And then the incredible challenge and joy of getting to ‘believe in him’ really hit me.  We as grad wives have a profound mission of encouraging and believing in our husbands during this season of grad school.  If we aren’t there for them, encouraging them, supporting them, cheering them on, who is?  If we aren’t the ones offering to take Polaroid pictures to make sure toes are pointed, then who will?

I realized that maybe some of the darker/harder days over the past few terms could have been helped if I had just believed in my husband better. Not just in my head, but in my heart and in my actions towards him.  I started to think through opportunities to show how much I believe in him and how much I trust him. In the world of PhDs confidence among students is rarely encountered (as many of you know), and I began to think about how I could remind and encourage that confidence in him.  I started thinking about how people ‘believed’ me into flourishing…believed in me enough for me to shine…and how I could do that for him.

I read a quote recently about the bestest of friends being the ones who don’t necessarily have all the answers to offer you, but are the ones willing to sit through hard times with you, the ones willing to reach out and touch your pain, and the ones walking beside you in it.  I realize that maybe that is what ‘believing in him’ looks like right now.  Not trying to ‘believe’ in him in my way…micromanaging his work or our timetables, but trying to simply walk alongside him.  Letting him know all along that I trust him and support him and am on his team.  Believing in him enough so that he can believe in himself.

What do you think?  How have you lived out your support and ‘belief’ in your husband?  How do you do it?

-M.C.

Believing in Him

Screen shot 2013-02-07 at 9.07.43 AM

Image found here

For some reason the other morning I found myself reflecting upon the people in my life who’ve ‘believed in me’ throughout the years.

I thought of my Mom and her never-ending encouragement over art projects or creative ideas, or for listening to my class president candidate speech for the hundred and fiftieth time.  I also pictured my little brothers cheering me on before my seventh grade cheerleader audition.  (Yes, one of them even would take pictures of me with his newly beloved Polaroid camera as I practiced my toe-touches).  Or my Dad for all the times he said, “Baby, you don’t need to be worried about (fill in the blank), you can do anything, you can stand on your head for two weeks if you have to.”  Not sure of that logic but it always sounded encouraging…especially when I had two weeks left to finish an exhausting thesis project and no more belief in myself.

I thought about our family friend Lisa and how she trusted me with her kids as their first babysitter when I was still a kid myself.  I gained so much courage from being trusted in and believed in by her and her children.

I thought of my friend Katherine and how she believed in me during college and trusted me with a platform to use some of my creative gifts and thus gave me a chance to blossom and shine in what I was created to do.

I reflected on my first employer Doug and how I truly wouldn’t be who I am today if not for his belief in me and the opportunities he offered me by hiring me to help him start a non-profit.  I never dreamed of doing some of the large-scale events I was able to do for him.  He had tremendous faith in me, and I was given a chance to really flourish.

I then started to think of my husband.  I could picture faces of people who I knew had believed in him and shaped him along the way.  His mother, his old boss, his camp counselor, his master’s thesis advisor, and then….you guessed it…my face came to mind.  (At least I hope he has felt me believing in him). And then the incredible challenge and joy of getting to ‘believe in him’ really hit me.  We as grad wives have a profound mission of encouraging and believing in our husbands during this season of grad school.  If we aren’t there for them, encouraging them, supporting them, cheering them on, who is?  If we aren’t the ones offering to take Polaroid pictures to make sure toes are pointed, then who will?

I realized that maybe some of the darker/harder days over the past few terms could have been helped if I had just believed in my husband better. Not just in my head, but in my heart and in my actions towards him.  I started to think through opportunities to show how much I believe in him and how much I trust him. In the world of PhDs confidence among students is rarely encountered (as many of you know), and I began to think about how I could remind and encourage that confidence in him.  I started thinking about how people ‘believed’ me into flourishing…believed in me enough for me to shine…and how I could do that for him.

I read a quote recently about the bestest of friends being the ones who don’t necessarily have all the answers to offer you, but are the ones willing to sit through hard times with you, the ones willing to reach out and touch your pain, and the ones walking beside you in it.  I realize that maybe that is what ‘believing in him’ looks like right now.  Not trying to ‘believe’ in him in my way…micromanaging his work or our timetables, but trying to simply walk alongside him.  Letting him know all along that I trust him and support him and am on his team.  Believing in him enough so that he can believe in himself.

What do you think?  How have you lived out your support and ‘belief’ in your husband?  How do you do it?

-M.C.

Pilgrim Call

Written by Judy – a former graduate wife

Today I open the book of readings my husband gave me over 26 years ago—before we were married—and the author’s dedication reminds me of who I am: ‘For every pilgrim who yearns for God’

I am a pilgrim, though an unlikely one. When I was growing up, my family rarely traveled. We lived in the same house since I was four years old and the furthest we traveled was to a nearby campground for our vacations. We did not suffer from wanderlust.

So I think it came as a surprise to all of us when, at the age of seventeen, I became convinced that I was meant to go away from home for university. Far away. Three thousand miles away. And though I have been back for visits, and even married a man from the same state, I have never lived there again. In fact, I have never lived again in any of the nine cities (in three different countries) in which we have lived since getting married.

I could say I blame my husband for my vagabond state. He was a graduate student when I met him, and three graduate degrees and a job in academia later, all of our moves have been related to his career. But it wouldn’t be true to say that it is his fault. I knew before I met him that I was not called to stay in one place; I was called to ‘go’.

One of my favorite passages in the bible comes from Psalm 84. I can still remember reading it, before I had ever met my husband, and knowing that there was a message there for me: ‘Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage…They go from strength to strength…’ The Cambridge dictionary defines a pilgrim as ‘a person who makes a journey, which is often long and difficult, to a special place for religious reasons.’ I have made a journey, which has been long and sometimes difficult (and often amazing), to many special places because that is what I believe God has called me to do. I have set my heart on pilgrimage.

I say this, not because I think I am special—I believe we are all called by God to an amazing journey with Him—but because I think that unless you have a sense of calling, it is impossible to live the life of ‘sacrificial support’ that is the life of the wife of a graduate student.

I love that term, ‘sacrificial support’. I think it precisely embodies what it means to be the spouse of a graduate student. Because providing the support that a person who is pursuing a graduate degree needs does require sacrifice, often on a comprehensive scale: sacrifice in terms of career, income, children, family, home-making, personal pursuits, even attention and affection. It is not for the faint (or the selfish) of heart. And while in the early stages love for our spouse and a love of adventure may propel us along, there comes a day when the newness wears off and we begin to feel neglected and unappreciated and we wonder, ‘Is this what I signed up for?’ It’s then that we have the chance to truly understand the sacrificial part of the equation; it’s then that we have the chance to dig deep to find what we didn’t know we had.

Or not. I’ve seen graduate marriages fail, and others take a severe beating. This can be a very difficult road to travel. And while I don’t believe there is a formula for success, I do believe that it is essential to have a shared sense of call and vision, something larger than merely what this means to the interests and career path of the one who is studying, and something larger than the attitude ‘I’m letting you have your turn now so that I can have my turn later.’ There is no 50/50 in marriage. There is give and take; there is negotiation; but always there is sacrifice—on both parts, because that is what love is about.

So here I am, twenty-six years of marriage, fourteen moves of house and three (mostly) grown children later, looking back at the beginning of this adventure in ‘sacrificial support’. I had no idea what I was in for and it has not turned out anything like I’d expected. And I’m sure the adventure is not over. There have been wonderful experiences too numerous to count, and there have been difficulties I couldn’t have managed if I had not believed that this was all part of a bigger plan, part of a pilgrim call.

So I am very thankful for my pilgrim heart. I think it has helped me negotiate this sometimes difficult road. It has helped me to keep the big picture in view—that we are on a journey and that each stop along the way is just that, a stop; it is not the final destination. It is not the point at which I can say, ‘Well, that’s over. Now I can begin my life.’ Life is in the journey.

Words from a Michael Card song that I love:

There is a joy in the journey,
there’s a light we can love on the way.
There is a wonder and wildness to life,
and freedom for those who obey.

May we all experience joy in the journey; May we all experience the wonder and wildness of life and the freedom that comes from following our call.

As a graduate wife, did you ever feel ‘called’ to begin this graduate journey with your husband?  If so, how has that ‘call’ helped with your transition into this season of life? 

My Mantra, My Prayer

During the season of our lives that was a Master’s degree, I struggled daily with where God had placed us. Because of my faith, I never doubted that we weren’t supposed to be there, but I did doubt that God was around, walking the journey with us. I smiled through my frustration, cursed through my fear, and let my heart cry silently as life moved ever so slowly by.

For my birthday, I asked my husband for The Message Bible. (Secretly, I wanted it because of the psychedelic 3D cover. I have strange taste in art…..ask any of my friends).  He granted my wish – hooray! – and as I read through the New Testament I stumbled on this verse:

So if you find life difficult because you’re doing what God said, take it in stride. Trust him. He knows what he’s doing, and he’ll keep on doing it. 1 Peter 4:19

I literally felt the verse lift off the page, as if it had been written for me. I made several copies of it, placing them in my car, my bathroom, and my office. It became my mantra, my prayer.  It encouraged me.  My head and heart repeated constantly, ‘Trust Him. He knows what he’s doing, and he’ll keep on doing it.’

I have walked around with that verse for the last 5 years.  It will always be meaningful to me, even when this season we are in passes.

What verse, quote or book has carried you through this season of your life?

Mandy
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