The Blessings of Compromise
My husband, Mike, and I have a unique situation. We've been married for two years. We're both in our second marriage. We each bring two daughters along with us and we're approaching the ½ century mark of our lives. We're blending a family of four pre-teen and teenaged daughters and are mystified by the abundance of hormones that can race through the house on any given day and quite frankly, we're both tired: emotionally and physically. We are two families becoming one, and there have been many difficult struggles in the process.
Blending a family can be a game of tug-of-war. What is fair, what is right and just sucking it up are all part of the negotiations of daily living. We've consoled our children through whining, crying and fit-throwing while trying to keep our eyes on Jesus and guide our girls in His ways and His Word. Because of the strain that family, ministry and work can bring, we find it helpful to get away and relax with each other and with the Father. We recently went on a trip to Ouray, Colorado. We needed this vacation and time alone to regroup and to just have fun together. While the children were visiting with their other parents for a few weeks this summer, we decided to take a road trip.
Mike and I are quite different. I could hike, bike, swim, etc. all day long, but he likes to take it easy on vacation. It can feel like a weight to sit still when you are a driven, Type-A personality. To sit on the patio and watch the sun go down when you want to get protein bars and boiled eggs ready for the next day’s adventure can be a challenge, although I love a good sunset as much as the next person. On the flip side, when you are of the laid back variety, it can be very annoying to be pressed and pushed through a long list of activities and a detailed, planned schedule. There are differences in the way we approach vacation food as well. Mike likes to relax and let someone else do the cooking, while I prefer staying in VBRO rental properties where I can cook all of the meals and keep the calories and fat content down.
In efforts to make a vacation work, we both have to be willing to bend a little. This is where I get transparent … I secretly hoped for lots of movement during our time in Ouray, but as the Father always does, He orders our steps and sometimes what we expect is not exactly how things turn out. The day before we arrived I decided I needed to humble myself and ask the Lord to make me joyful no matter how much hiking, kayaking or sightseeing I got to do … after all, this was my husband's vacation too.
As we headed out to divide and conquer a waterfall hike and part of the Perimeter Trail, we were starting to question if this really was the stuff that dreams were made of. We huffed sweated just to get from the trail head to the waterfall viewpoint, but when we arrived, the beauty and glory of God's creation so astounded us that it took our breath away again.
After stopping to take a few photos we continued up the trail. As we walked along we took in the view of the beautiful woods on the left and the panoramic view of Ouray and the surrounding mountains. The signs on the trail directed us to take the road, yet I felt sure the “true” hiking trail continued up the hill. We pushed ahead and after 30 minutes of walking we found out what every other person who takes that less traveled trail finds out … it abruptly ends and the only way down is to cling to the tree branches and bushes. We were brave at first, but after a few minutes we decided to turn, climb up and go back to the road and do as instructed.
Our hike did not go as planned, but we walked back through town looking at properties for sale and daydreaming of what it would be like to own a getaway home there. We even looked at a lot that was for sale that had an amazing overlook of the city. We continued on through town and stopped by the river to eat the picnic that I had packed. The sound of rushing water is so soothing, it was the perfect way to relax after our hike.
Next we took on kayaking. The guy we rented from told me on the phone that when we arrived he would have two kayaks and a soft side rack to put on the car to transport to Ridgeway State Park Reservoir. When we got there, he had two blocks of Styrofoam and some straps to mount one kayak at a time, which would require us to transport them one at a time. Mike had an amazing level of patience for this circus act unfolding before our eyes.
Mike does not enjoy the water and it was a stretch for him to get in the kayak and paddle out. He preferred to stay along the edge of the shore where he could see the bottom while I wanted to charge out into the deep water and get to the other side to explore. I took off for the other side while he rested and sunned near the shore. When I got back, I went up on the shore and met a gentleman who told me that the river feeding the reservoir was a natural habitat and nesting place for the Blue Heron, Osprey, Eagles and all type of ducks and water fowl. I was all about going up that river, but was Mike? He was feeling more comfortable with the water and the kayak and we headed up the river. We didn't spot many birds, but what I did see was a willingness on my husband’s part to try something new. This touched my heart deeply and made room for him to do an activity that was not my cup of tea the next day: Jeeping.
Now, I have been on several pass roads and I even drive a few when I'm visiting my parents in Oregon. But giving someone else control over my ride on the winding, steep roads outside of Ouray did not make me comfortable. I went into the Jeep tour office and signed us up. I'm not going to lie, I was scared, petrified really! However, the ride, although steep, slow and winding, was absolutely breathtaking. We ended at Yankee Boy Basin with one of the most spectacular waterfall views, beautiful mountain peaks and hundreds of wildflowers dancing in the wind. It was at the sight of this beautiful trio of God's glorious handiwork that I was truly thankful I had pressed through my fear and found this amazing reward waiting for me at the top of the mountain. Spouses, be willing to give and take, never forget that humility and servitude always has its rewards.
In becoming one flesh there seems to be a continual choice to make: to be stubborn and insist on our own way or to determine to give and compromise. Mike and I sometimes vary in our opinion of what vacation fun should look like, but we choose to not compromise on our faith or on our willingness to serve others as the Lord leads us. We pray daily that the Lord will allow us to be His hands, feet and voice to those we come across who are in need and we expectantly look for those opportunities to be used by Him. Our life is not our own and we were bought with a price, we want to serve Jesus daily because he willingly laid down his life for us. There actually have been numerous times that we have been on vacation and the Lord has brought someone into our lives that absolutely needed ministry at that moment. We don't want to be so fixated on a schedule that we might miss the joy of obedience in the Divine opportunity that the Lord has orchestrated for us that day. Ministering together in this way also draws us closer together.
4 SIMPLE STEPS
** Don't miss Page 2 of this story for more tips on heading outdoors together!
One of the best things about any trip Mike and I take is we plan to include time with the Father. Many individuals leave God at home when they head out for vacation, but we have made it a practice to take Him with us. If you’re like us, the enemy likes to come and cause strife and division on vacation and we are determined that he doesn't get a say in our outings. We take our Bibles along and possibly an enrichment book we are focusing on. We praise Him for his creation and often listen to worship songs while we hike or look at a beautiful mountain or a river. We also plan on sharing with one another truths we are coming to realize in the Word of God and what the Holy Spirit has been speaking to us. Because of a determined slower pace (remember, I have to force myself to slow down) we have time to include these practices that are an investment that will ultimately grow us closer as a couple. Even though we have a list of activities we'd like to accomplish we also want to remember to take time pray for the needs of others as well as being determined to pray for one another and for our marriage together, out loud, as a couple. This may happen during a picnic, on a trail, looking at a waterfall or wherever the Spirit leads.
Because we have Christ as the central focus of our lives and because we had compromised during our vacation, the long drive through Colorado, New Mexico and Texas to get back home allowed us to cover financial and business discussions in the containment of the car! No escape, no aborting the discussion, just getting down to it and getting it done. I actually found this to be quite workable because we had fun, loved, played and prayed together so these more difficult discussions went far better because of the emotional investment quality time we had given to each other.
You might be asking, “Well, how did you sort out that vacation food issue?” I have learned to lean on Colossians 3:14, Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. It is my responsibility to my husband, my brother in Christ, to seek a level of unity with him and to also have a humble mind knowing that the Father will take care of me and my body if I enjoy some fun vacation food. Upon agreement, we made all of our breakfasts at the house, we packed a lunch most days and one day bought food for a picnic and we alternated dinners out and me cooking at home. We found a little place that had delicious chocolates and ice cream, so on the days we were really active, we indulged!
The key to my success as an individual who has lost 90 pounds and kept it off for over eleven years lies in this simple truth, transparency brings transformation. The more transparent I am with my struggles in life, the stronger I become. Accountability is found in community, small groups or meeting with a mentor or close friend and sharing struggles and successes. One of the key verses in my transformation process has been Revelation 12:11, which says: “They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.” Each time I get to share a portion of my life story (good, bad or ugly) I consider it a privilege. The blood of Jesus has given me salvation and each time I have an opportunity to speak out my spiritual, emotional or physical testimony I know I am overcoming the enemy and I trust that my transparency will be encouraging to someone else.