This blog is basically my monumental epiphany of the past few months, but I think its something I really need to share with other women. This blog post is probably one of my biggest "baring my soul" ones, so if you comment, please be gentle. The only reason I am sharing this openly is because I feel like its something other women in general, but particularly younger Christian women, need to hear, before they make the same mistakes I did.
I have realized over the past few months or so that up until recently, I wasn't really an authentic "me." I know that sounds wierd. It did to me too. Sure, I was me - I wasn't a liar, manipulator, con, or fake. Far from it. But what I mean is, somewhere along the line, I lost virtually all sense of myself.
When I became a Christian, I was determined to turn my life around, and hold true to my newfound Christian values. And I like to think I still do. I certainly strive to follow Christ and exemplify Him in me everyday. Sure, I have my good days and my bad days. Who doesn't? But anyway...
I think what got the ball rolling was my year at a private Christian college. I was 18, just shy of 2 years saved, on my own for the first time, still trying to figure Christianity out, and young and impressionable, and trying to find my way in this world, my faith, and my overall belief system. College is a wierd time though. Kind of stuck in between what you've always known, and the independent person you are seeking to become. And when you're a baby Christian, and surrounded by people who have grown up with it and are solid in their faith and knowledge thereof, you are just looking for guidance. I spent an entire year as a virtual chameleon, trying to figure out who could correctly guide me. Many friends stepped up and taught me so much, for which I am grateful, but it still left me trying to navigate my way through my own faith and personal development into my own belief system. I was still floundering, trying to figure it out.
Through that process, my resentment began to grow toward my parents, my upbringing, my friends back home who weren't Christians...pretty much anyone who wasn't a Christian and wasn't going to help me form the person I wanted to be. I no longer wanted any part of anyone, anything, or any piece of myself that didn't "feel" Christian to me. I began to resent much of my very core; the very things that my parents tried so incredibly hard to instill in me. Because I wasn't raised in a Christian home, I began to reject all that they had taught me about life because THEY weren't Christians, so they couldn't possibly be right about anything pertaining to who I wanted to become. Because they didn't profess to faith in Christ, nothing they taught me could be right or good. I still loved them dearly and didn't abandon THEM, don't get me wrong, I just wrote off their more open-minded views as ungodly.
Another aspect was, at a Christian college, you hear a LOT of talk about people preparing themselves for marriage. Preparation for life, education, and ministry, sure, but it was also a "pond" full of potential "fish in the sea," if you follow my drift. So when I left school for a summer, and met my now-husband, it had already been instilled in me that it was crucial to be the quintessential submissive wife.
I still believe in honoring my husband, loving him, treating him well, being the person he can lean on, fully trusting in him, and so on. I really do. But somewhere along the line, I took it to an extreme. I began to lose my own mind. Not in the going crazy sense, but in the abandoning who I was to assimilate myself into my husband's beliefs sense. I began to believe, for example, that because I was a Christian wife, and my husband is a Republican, I had to be too. I adopted all the same thought processes and beliefs that he had, and began to believe that my own thoughts and ideals were out of line for a "good" Christian wife to have. And it didn't help that at the church we attended at the time, I was also surrounded by women who seemed to have the Christian wife thing down to an art better than I did. I wanted to rise to their level of wifehood. I pretty much turned into a Stepford Wife without even realizing it. I truly began to believe, on some subconscious level, that my husband had dominion over even my own beliefs, values, feelings, and thoughts. And what's worse, I thought that was right. (Let me make it clear though, that my husband NEVER asked or expected for me to! His words and actions had nothing to do with it whatsoever.)
So here I am, at age 30, 12 years after Bible college, 10 1/2 years into marriage, with 3 kids, finally figuring out who I am and what I believe, independent of anyone else. Independent of any church, independent of any nay-saying friends, independent of my family, and independent even of my husband. What most people figure out in their 20's, I am finally beginning to figure out.
I think one of the turning points was meeting my friend, Trina. She won't know this until she reads this, but I credit her more than anyone for helping me realize that I can still be a Christian woman who adheres to the Word of God and strives to please her husband, and yet still have great intelligence and full confidence in my own ideas, thoughts and beliefs - even those that are independent from those of my husband or church - as long as they are not in opposition to the Word of God. She's taught me, without even knowing it, how to find the right balance between Christian wife and Christian self. Not all Christians - not even married couples - have to see the world exactly the same way. Nor should they. Its perfectly okay to have your own ideas, question the world around you, struggle with aspects of your faith and your own beliefs... The church and your spouse are there to help you with your struggles and point you in the right direction, but in the end, nobody else should - directly or indirectly - dictate how you think and believe.
So women, especially young Christian women, I urge you not to lose sight of who you are. Don't look back when you're in your 30's with regret over all the time you lost trying to over-assimilate yourself to the point you barely exist anymore. Follow your own heart! What you believe is something only you can and should own. Don't give it away, don't give it up, and don't be decieved into thinking that a Christian woman has to give up herself to make others happy and be more pleasing in His sight. Don't give in to pacify a church that won't allow you to think outside the box without rebuke (you should rethink any church like that), and don't give up to try and please your husband. He's already pleased! Out of all the women in the world, he chose you, right?! ;) He loves you for you, not the Stepford Wife you could be.
So please, don't lose sight of yourself. Be intelligent. Think for yourself. Be different. Challenge yourself. Never stop learning. Never stop growing. And whatever you do, don't end up with regrets! Take it from me, its not worth it.