Missed Opportunities

You know what it’s like to miss an opportunity.  Sometimes it is a small one, like the 15 or so times I haven’t gotten that strike for a perfect 300 or when I forgot about that good lunch in the fridge and chose instead the frozen meal.  Some are much more weighty.  A missed opportunity to tell a loved one you loved them.  Not saying the right thing when you’re spouse needs to hear it.  Not using that moment to teach your child about God or prayer why people get baptized.
Well, the last week or so has brought me face to face with missed opportunities.  A missed opportunity to share with a struggling friend how much they are wanted and loved.  A missed opportunity to connect with my nephew.  A missed opportunity to show being responsible with work.  These things can suck and hurt really bad.  If you let them.
The hardest thing is to let go.  Because, the reality in my perspective is that I have met more opportunities than missed them.  And yet, I focus, or more accurately, get stuck on those that I miss.  This is where that freedom and forgiveness we have in Christ becomes more important.  Freed from perfection! Freed from failure becoming our idol.
The truth is, I met an opportunity this week to be responsible in my household.  I met a number of opportunities to tell my fiancée and to be stepson that I loved them.  I met many opportunities to share what was on my heart in difficult situations and conversations.  I did thank someone at church.  Certainly, I missed some opportunities.  But I am always trying to reframe now, look at my life in a different way.  It’s easy to look at how I could have said something differently to change a visit, or how I could have done x better or said this or that when the time came.  But instead, I am constantly growing into looking positively at the life that happens around me, and being affirming where I need to be and looking for how good things have come from those opportunities I haven’t missed.  Isn’t that where the motivation to not miss opportunities comes from- when you see the beauty, or the life, or the connections, or the growth that comes from opportunities we taken on?
When I truly look at my life, I find that I am happier than I even realize.  I find that there are opportunities that I haven’t missed, and now reap incredible benefits!  My dream job, the decisions to travel, the times on mission trips, decisions to keep myself for someone else (and so skipping opportunities to have those teenage or college ‘pleasures’), the Big Brother Big Sister relationships, the residency in Houston, the joining of a fraternity (not always a wise choice but it was needed for me!),  even the mistakes I have made, and of course, asking my fiancée to marry me.  (Wow, that is an opportunity worth taking!) This is a much better way to look at life.

The Joy of Being Challenged

I love challenges.  I really do.  Some are incredibly easy and some are very difficult, but I love challenges.  Challenges bring joy to my life because of what I feel like I get on the back side of the challenge.  Challenge sounds like a hard word, but in my perspective it refers to the journey and ins and outs of that journey.  Challenges are not easy but once one understands it, it can become much easier.  A challenge is complex- it is like a glass that when looked through shows immediate beauty of colors, and in moving one spot to another, requires adjustment but brings an altogether different but still special beauty.

Being a fiancee, a husband in a little over five months, and a step-father- these are challenges, but challenges with great joy.  And they are challenges in some of the easiest ways.  It is a challenge to let someone else have a voice in my life that is as strong as my own. It is amazing how wonderful it can be to have someone speak truth into my life not from a position of friendship, but from a position of having made a lifetime commitment to love me and want the best for me.

It has been a challenge to know what love is like and to see what it looks like for us.  My fiancee and I have been figuring out the ways each other thinks, feels, needs, and wants throughout the good and the difficult moments.  And that challenge is joyful even when it is exhausting.  I mean, what greater feeling can there be outside of being loved by God than by being able to provide exactly what my spouse wants or needs and can be truly happy.  And the same goes for my step-son.  There is not much better than being able to learn and then provide exactly what he wants to be happy- a particular way to talk to him when he’s angry, a way of bringing a smile out of him…these are truly happy and great challenges that I want- I want them!

It is also a challenge to let someone else love you.  We as human beings operate illogically and out of self protection all the time, because we motivate ourselves through fear, or through self image, or with pleasure, or guilt…whatever we need so that we can avoid being vulnerable.  Being loved requires vulnerability, requires sharing one’s mind  even if it brings difficulty, requires apologies, requires wanting my spouse to know about my shortfalls and fears and concerns, and requires pursuing my spouse even when I may not feel like it.  These are challenges.  It is a challenge to love someone so much as to let someone else’s mood and feeling have consequences on my own.  It is a challenge to share myself because I love her because I (like many others) can be afraid that she will not love me with all my cracks and failures and inabilities (and there’s no such thing as comparing cracks so that the others’ don’t matter).  But the real challenge for me in loving my spouse, and the challenge that brings the most joy, is understanding and being understood.  Being understood can require effort. Understanding can require hurt.  But, in growing closer there is joy and happiness beyond belief.  I have only been engaged for a little over two months, and the joy when we understand one another let one another love each other is beautiful and brings so much happiness.

All I mean to say is that at times, becoming a husband is a challenge- but it is a challenge worth its weight because of the sheer happiness it brings. Amen to that! It only makes my love for her and her son grow every day, more and more.