Lisa Pulliam . . . oh, friends, where do I begin? She’s a woman of faith, a friend of truth, a mentor with wisdom and purpose and great, big GRACE. Not only does this woman know the Gospel, but she communicates it all over these Internets. Mentoring, young women, the real, live God . . . through her More To Be ministry, she’s connected with me. It’s a joy to call you my mentor, Lisa!
Seventeen years is a long time. For teenagers, seventeen years can’t seem to go fast enough, with a longing for the days of independence and a desire to live the rest of their lives on their own terms.
But what teens don’t realize is that life is never really about “your own terms.”
As a child, your parents rule the roost. That’s a given. As a college student, you feel some freedom, but the reality is you still have to answer to roommates, teammates, and university rule-makers. Finally, you enter the “real world” only to find out that rent doesn’t pay itself and a boss isn’t happy if you don’t show up on time. Those are terms with significant consequences.
When it comes time for marriage, well, that’s where the lesson takes on a whole new level, as you discover that “your own terms” is nothing but a fallacy.
Before you can grab the TV remote, it’s clear that “I do” really means “I give up my own way.”
On July 20th, my husband and I will reach our seventeen year milestone in our marriage. If you could peak inside our story, you’d see that this journey has been marked by an ever-present decision to give up our terms for the sake of our marriage, children, testimony, and commitment to God. I’d need 50,000 words to tell you the whole story, but our former counselor sums it up best, “You could write a book with a chapter dedicated to every life issue and how you emerge from trial after trial by the grace of God.” If it wasn’t a personal challenge, like healing from a legacy of dysfunction, it was a present-day trial spent walking with friends through cancer, adultery, and prodigal heartbreaks. None of these situations were on our terms, but it’s been the story God has weaved into our lives.
When it comes to a matter of terms, the greatest challenge upon our marriage has actually been our own God-given wiring. We are opposites, which is probably why we were so attracted to each other.
I’m a loud, emotional, visionary. He’s a quiet, reserved, servant. I’m a passionate fighter. He’s a stoic peacemaker. We see life from different perspectives — different terms — which makes every decision, every moment a point of potential conflict. Until we learned and applied the principles of love and respect, so wisely taught by Emerson and Sarah Eggerichs (http://loveandrespect.com), we were destined for a long-term disaster. Our points of conflict have not changed over the years. We are constantly intentional about communicating in the language of love and respect, and have seen the way God has poured out His grace on our efforts and brought peace and even joy into our marriage.
Ephesians 5:33 — However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
Pursing a life built on your own terms, especially in a marriage, will leave you with nothing but tears and frustration.
Counter to the world’s mantra to “make yourself happy,” choosing to giving up “your happy” for the sake of the one you love, will actually bring you joy. I can testify to this fact, especially after seventeen years of trying it both ways! Our belly-splitting, face-hurting moments stolen in the wee hours of the night are a reflection of the way we’re living throughout each day.
The habit of giving up our terms, especially during times of conflict, in place of responding with grace and mercy, paves the way toward a healthy marriage — and an emotionally healthy family, too.
As we stand together, two imperfect sinners with Jesus as our strong foundation, we’re determined to follow Jesus’ example in His obedience to His Father’s terms. Our hope and prayer is that by giving up our own terms, we will leave a lasting impact on the next generation. If we’re passionate about reversing a legacy of dysfunction that has marked our family line, it starts with giving up our terms in exchange for His.