Thursday, June 23, 2011

Spouse Questing 101 : Lesson #1 To Thine Own Self Be True

Some of my children are old enough to start looking around at the world (and their future) and asking questions. Here are some answers to questions they've asked (and haven't asked).

Lesson #1 - Know yourself well enough to know what you want.
If you don't know who you are, you're bound to make massive mistakes in choosing a spouse.

Learn about yourself. Write letters to yourself -- what do you want to say? Is your self-talk negative? Are you the person you wish you were? Who is the person you wish you were? Talk to healthy friends and ask them what you're like - have them describe you in phrases or single words. Are you really that person they think you are? What would your enemies or people who don't like you say? Are you really that person they think you are?

Do you feel free to dream your own dreams of yourself? If not, why not? What is standing in your way? What are the dreams? Don't worry if they're attainable, worry if you throw them away without trying for them. Is that everything you want to be? God has a plan for you, are you fulfilling it?

What about the relationships in your life -- are you truly happy (or just settling for what comes) with the way people treat you? You know you have to teach people how to treat you. What about the way you treat them? What goes around comes around (meaning you can't expect to have good friends until you ARE a good friend.)

When I was a teenager, Hamlet was required reading for English class. Even though the guy giving the advice wasn't worthy of respect, his advice was.
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
I read it. I let it become part of me. I recited it to myself during trying & unsure times. God made me with His plan for my life and He holds me with a dignity that I have to imitate in the way I treat myself.

My questions changed from 'what will make my parents/teachers happy' to 'what will make me happy?' Not the indulgence eating-a-pound-of-chocolate happy, but the healthy eating-a-balanced-diet-and-training-for-a-marathon-and-winning kind of happy. I was looking for the deep down genuinely proud-of-myself-for-accomplishing-what-I-wasn't-sure-I-could happy. The I-can-look-myself-in-the-mirror kind of happy. The I'd-be-thrilled-to-include-my-younger-siblings-and-grandparents-in-my-behavior kind of happy.

You may have to do some deep sea diving - literally and figuratively. Literally, if the person you want to be lives on the ocean and you live in the land-locked Midwest, do things to start to explore that part of yourself and see if that's who you really are. Figuratively, you may have to do some exploring inside of yourself to see who you really are. Dream some dreams for yourself an then act on a few to explore a side of you that even you didn't know about. Do you love to look at artwork? Pick up a brush and paint and see if that's who you are. Do you thrill at the way a horse runs through a field? Call several stables and see if they'll exchange your free labor for riding lessons. Do you miss the way the wind used to blow past your face when you were little on the swing set? Take up running and see if you're not more capable than you expected.

Once you find you have a knack, don't let someone else define what you're capable of doing with it. You can ask for healthy advice, but this is about your dreams for yourself. *AND* be careful with your dreams. Protect them. This is an application for the bible verse about not throwing your pearls before swine. If there is a dream killer in your life (or several), nurture your dreams within yourself and explore them a bit on your own so they've taken root and are healthy & growing inside your mind, before you share them with someone who may be a dream killer. Some of your dreams are just fanciful wishes. But some are dreams that God has dreamed just for you and placed in your mind. Nurture them and protect them before you expose them to the elements.

This activity of knowing yourself and exploring who God made you to be can take some time. I spent 1-2 years actively learning how to apply 'To Thine Own Self Be True" in many situations so I could lovingly "not then be false to any man." Stay here a while. Who are you? What are your dreams? Are you happy with the relationships & experiences in your life?

If you're not sure of the answer to any of the many questions above; ask Him -- He knows you better than you know yourself. And you're worth knowing. So get to know yourself -- well.

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