What We Don’t Love About Marriage Enrichment Seminars….Giveaway Winners…and Humbling Thoughts on Expectations

Congrats to the winners listed below. Please email me your address and I will ship your items. Also, if you are a baby lost mama, and have not received a Dreams of You Memory Book and Comfort Bear from Sufficient Grace and would like one, please let me know in the email and we will include that with your “prize”.

Gift of Time Book Winners
Melissa
Teresa

Love Post Giveaway Winners
Beauty Will Rise CD – Deanna
When I’m With You (JJ Heller) CD – Kristin

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Just a little heads-up. I’m going to be honest in this post. Hope you will still love me when I’m done. Truthfully, that matters to me much more than it should…more than I would like to admit. We aren’t supposed to care what other people think. But, I do. I’m weak like that.

First…I’m going to share a little secret. Tim and I are not marriage enrichment seminar people. Don’t get me wrong, we’re glad they exist. Obviously, we think marriage should be encouraged and enriched. I’m not sure what it is…or why I feel compelled to search out the deep mystery of it at 4:00a.m., but we struggle with marriage enriching activities. Even the movie Fireproof, which I have recommended, and even gave away on this blog….we didn’t feel encouraged by it. I’m grateful the movie exists and wholeheartedly embrace and endorse it’s message. I think it is a wonderful movie, with a much-needed message that honors God and marriage beautifully. But, we didn’t feel closer after watching it. We felt as if we had already walked through that time of struggle in our marriage…that God had brought us to a different place. And, frankly….call us shallow…we thought we would rather spend our time laughing together. Honestly, we’ve cried plenty over the years…we’ve searched out the deep things…felt the depth of them…we’ve done hard. And, in some ways…we still are. Life isn’t perfect or easy.

Marriage enrichment seminars are often not our favorite thing, either. And here’s why…I think. They can be a great encouragement to some and have wonderful value. But, here’s the danger. They can also point out flaws in one another we weren’t looking at before. They can plant expectations in our hearts and minds…that lead to disappointment when one of us does not meet that expectation for the other. Love doesn’t put expectations on another. Love lays it all down…the expectations, the selfish wants, the “what about me’s”, the rights we think we have. Love lays it all down. And, love doesn’t look at the flaws. Check out I Corinthians 13. Perhaps I’m writing all of this as a reminder to myself, because we are going to a marriage enrichment thing at church tonight. And, quite frankly, it’s on my mind.

Most of the time, I’ll be honest…..Tim and I would rather go to dinner, walk around The Guitar Center, and laugh together. Play music together. Hold hands and pray on Sunday morning. Or, in the summer…soak in the beauty of God’s creation on the golf course…and laugh some more. Those are the moments that enrich our marriage. That feels like time well spent. Time appreciating the simple gift of one another. Not dwelling on all the ways we may or may not measure up. Right or wrong, that’s how we often feel about marriage enrichment….like it’s a measuring stick. I know it’s not meant to be that way. Not at all. We may, or may not be the only ones who feel this way. I’m doubting we are, if we’re honest. ;) Anyway, tonight we are going. And, I’m secretly hoping for some laughs.
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O.K…last uncomfortably honest revelation and then I’m going to make some tea with honey and start this day.

We’ve been sharing posts on the Lies Women Believe Study. I was determined before I started it, not to grow discouraged if I posted each week, and heard nothing in reply. Remembering previous studies, when I thought others, who showed enthusiasm at first, would join in and encourage one another on the blog…that we could discuss and pray for each other on each week’s topic. I was disappointed when that didn’t happen. Like marriage enrichment….I had expectations. Expectations are never good. They always lead to discouragement. Because at some point, none of us will measure up.

I prayed about the study, telling myself that I was doing it to serve the Lord, to be an encouragement, and because I needed to do the study. I needed the accountability…the commitment. So, I purposed in my heart…stay focused on the Lord. Just do the study each week. Pray. Write the post. Don’t look at whether or not anyone is participating. Just obey. I sent books out to those interested. I was exciting to see that several of you were interested. I launched in with enthusiasm, and then it happened. Slowly, less and less people joined in to add their thoughts. I shared my heart in the posts, but the discussion I hoped for where we all encouraged one another didn’t happen. My expectations…no matter how I tried not to have any…weren’t met.

Along the way, a few ladies have shared that they are reading along. And they have been blessed by the book. Instead of just being glad they were getting blessed, I wondered why they hadn’t joined in on the blog posts and Blog Frog, encouraging each other more in the study. I was grateful to know they were joining in and grateful for the conversation it sparked in that moment. Their input encouraged me to continue, knowing that others where being encouraged. But, as I continued and heard from less and less from my blogger friends, I grew discouraged again. Frustrated by my own expectations, I missed the blessing. I missed the true point of why God laid it on my heart to do the study in the first place…to encourage other women in the areas we struggle. What does it matter if it’s not happening the way I pictured it? What matters is, it’s happening. Women are reading the book and getting stretched and thinking differently about a few things. God is speaking truth into their hearts. Isn’t that the goal?

Yes.

But, for a little while, I was small and hurt. Feeling lonely after pouring out my own heart and getting little to no response. This week, I wrote about the struggles many women face with priorities and the difference between condemnation and conviction. A topic I thought might be of interest…even if some aren’t reading the book. Something I thought we all struggle with to some degree as moms with various roles in a busy world.

And…crickets.

 I wondered…should I keep going with the study? Is anyone out there? Is this helping? Is it relevant? Is it being a good steward of time?

Then, earlier today, another friend shared how the study is blessing her. I told her some of my struggle with the lack of response, and saw when I heard my words out loud, how ugly it sounded for me to be discouraged about my expectations not getting met. I was missing the fact that God was blessing her for taking part in the study. She said, “I’m sorry it’s not turning out the way you hoped, but God is blessing me through the study. He is changing me, and I just wanted you to know.” I was so humbled by the beauty of what she was saying in contrast to the ugliness of my flesh in that weak moment. God gently reminded me…it’s not about me. Even if we never see the fruit…even if there is not the response we hoped, or any response at all…our job is just to do what God has laid on our hearts to do. We never know how He may be using it to minister to someone’s heart. And…we don’t have to know.

My pastor often says, even if one person shows up to a bible study, he would teach. It is up to the Lord to do the work in someone else’s heart and life. We are just the vessel. We just obey. Just show up. Just write the blog post. Whether anyone reads it or not…whether it speaks to anyone else’s heart or not. That isn’t ours to decide…or even to know. God gives the increase. He gets the glory. We are just humbled and blessed beyond words that He is merciful enough to take us along for the ride.

For those who have shared what they are experiencing during this study…thank you. To those who are out there reading along, thank you. I pray that you are getting blessed and encouraged, as I have been, doing this study. (Also…please don’t take this post wrong. I understand getting busy and juggling many things. This isn’t meant to induce guilt. Just wanted to share something God spoke to my heart and revealed about a wrong attitude I was having…not trying to discourage…but rather encourage!)

O.K…I think that’s enough raw honesty for now…and way too much exposure. I’m going to hit publish before I think too much more about this, and sip my tea, and soak in this Saturday.

Have a blessed day! And thanks for sticking with me…flaws and all.

Comments

  1. I'm sorry the study hasn't turned out the way you expected. I imagine it's hard to put time and emotion into it and not hear responses. I'm not participating in the study so I can't speak to that, but I can say you encourage me in general. Your ministry is invaluable, I'm not sure if I've ever told you how much it means to me. Beyond myself, its nice to have a site to pass along when people ask me for resources for others who have lost babes. Have a blessed weekend!

  2. We've never done marriage enrichment stuff, and our short stint in marriage counseling we had the exact experience that you're describing – it made things harder for us. After so many years of marriage, I think we know what works for us, like you do. We know what things bring us closer and what things don't. Stealing away from the kids for a night at the movies or a walk after dinner, that's enrichment for us.

    Sorry about the study, I feel that way about my blog a lot – I would check my traffic and wonder why traffic was going up and comments were going down. Then I realized it doesn't matter AT ALL, and I stopped checking my traffic all together. Ah. Much better.

    I'm always blessed by your posts. Hugs!

  3. Kelly,

    You have been on my heart lately about your study. I want to read that book and participate and I feel like I've gotten over my head over here with trying to get ready to move. I hate to tell someone I am committing and then not do it. And I have felt really bad about that, because I knew that if it were me, I would feel the same exact way as you. And I know you aren't trying to make anyone feel guilty, but just know that I fully intend to continue to read and I know it's going to bless me so much just from what I've already been able to read. I may be months behind, but you know how much I love to read and I eventually will read it and come back to read your thoughts on it too.

    I couldn't believe it when I saw my name for the JJ Heller CD. I have wanted to buy that CD for so long and I am so excited to finally have it! Thank you SO much! Her music has already blessed me so much, especially since she wrote Your Hands because of her struggle with anxiety.

    And I feel the same way about marriage enrichment. When we first started going to bible study, they kept doing marriage ones and then it seemed every study wanted to point out the past and some of the couples actually would be reminded of things that would make them get into a fight and be mad at each other for the rest of the night! We didn't feel like it was productive at all and we felt like we had already worked out those issues and why bring them up again?! That was a big part of why we quit going to small group, unfortunately.

  4. Kelly, I am so sorry that I have not commented on the study in the last couple of weeks. We have had the flu in the house and honestly I had let it slip. I did sit down yesterday and catch up quite a bit and intend to catch up with the rest today (provided we do not have another urgent care visit). I am sorry you have gotten discouraged. I feel like I have let you down and I do not like to let anyone down. I appreciate EVERYTHING you are doing. Jumping back on board this week with the study.
    I also agree completely with you about marriage conferences and such. They have their place for some just not in my marriage either.
    Love and hugs!

  5. Jennifer Ross says:

    Oh Kelly, I love doing this study, and I am slowly keeping up. I had a whole lot of set backs this last week. Basically, I've been to five different doctors in the last 16 days and I'm going to have to have surgery on my foot and I found out some other things that didn't make me very happy to find out. I'll e-mail you the details.

    I have been so impressed at how well you have pulled apart this bible study. I couldn't believe how much you put in a post. You did pour out your heart, and I am so thankful that you have. I love how you serve the Lord, and He will surely keep blessing you every step of the way. You are doing a wonderful job Kelly!!!!!!!!!

    Love you,
    Jenny

  6. I know I said I was interested in the study but then I never got a book. Bad me!! But I know how it is not to get the response you desire and I'm sorry it turned out that way. Just know it's nothing about you, Kelly. I'm sure for many people life just gets in the way of them sharing like they prolly would like too.

    I've never been inclined to go to a marriage enrichment seminar and truth be told Anth and I started the Love Dare and quite after just day 2. lol We may be quitters but we're quitters together!! :)

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