Sunday, September 28, 2008

When Shannon died, everyone seemed to have advice. But two pieces of advice stuck with me...first, you don't have to operate under anyone else's timetable regarding your healing and second, write down what you want in your future spouse and really strive to stick to it.

I came to the conclusion recently that I feel like I am ready to date. For some people this is an unfathomable concept to them..."it's only been 7 months". From that thought alone springs forth all sorts of judgment calls from other people, and judgment calls on yourself. You start to believe that everyone is judging you, that they are constantly thinking to themselves that you really didn't love your husband, that you disregard your marriage & think of it as nothing. That is further from the truth. As a widow that will always be a part of your heart that will belong solely to your first husband. Once you work through all your emotions, hurts, baggage, and memories, there exists in your mind a deep appreciation of your life with him, who you became because of him, and how special that relationship was. Even when you remarry (or if you don't remarry) there will always be that place just for him.

Personally I am still working through that place in my heart. Lately, it is developing into a deep sense of appreciation for the things I learned from him, with him, and through him. No marriage is perfect, as we all know it, but with each trial comes a deeper level of learning and character development. I loved Shannon insanely and intensely, but there were many things he did that hurt me deeply. It took losing him for me to unapck each unhappy memory, deal with it, and then focus solely on the beautiful memories we had. After practicing this excercise several times, you come to realize that you have more beautiful memories than bad ones, and that place in your heart becomes a sweet fountain of precious memories bursting forward.

When I finally settled it in my heart, that I think I have sufficiently healed emotionally, and that I am ready to dive back in to that scary world known as dating, I began to think alot about expectations. In my head I kept saying "my next husband won't do this" or "my next husband will be this way"... I invented my next husband to be perfect, without flaws, and ready to take me on as his wife and live happily ever after in our snowflake castle in the sky.

Then my internal brakes starting grinding to a sudden halt and I shouted to myself "Sarah Webb...your expectations are going to get the best of you. You need to start thinking".

Expectation brings manifestation, or so I've heard. But one thing I have learned through this journey is that unhealthy expectations, or unrealistic expectations, have a tendency to create a world that will bring more heartache than hope. Where do we draw the line though between what is a healthy expectation versus an unrealistic one? It begins by examining yourself and coming to an intense realization of who you are, where you are going, and who you want to be with when you get there.

My expectations about my future spouse were getting to the point where he was literally Superman, and we were going to have the greatest life ever. Once I discovered that I was going crazy with my expectations, I sat and really considered what I wanted in my next spouse. I first realized that he probably isn't going to be perfect and that we will have to work at our relationship. In addition, there are certain things I want him to be...I'm not by any means putting him into a box, but a few things I want is someone with integrity, someone who can laugh at me, someone who can appreciate my randomness, someone who will take care of me, etc. I also began attending a class on "Choosing Mr.Right", it outlines past relationships, expectations, and helps you to establish thought processes when considering relationships. In this class I began to think constructively about people I thought I would just "love" to date...I have an internal conversation with myself about the qualities that would make them a good husband, and then red flags that would be something I wouldn't want to deal with...and I discovered, that all these people that I would just "love" to date, I really don't want to date at all!

With all of this said, know what you want. Commit it prayerfully to the Lord, and really stick to your standards. My greatest struggle since Shannon has died has been my self-esteem, and I will not lie when I say that there are many times that I am so lonely, that I could fall in love with any guy that simply shows me attention. BUT. I know that I deserve better. I know that I owe it to myself to keep my standards high, know what I want, and simply pray daily for my future husband. Its easy to find a husband, however it takes alot more prayer, patience, and faith to find your soul mate.

"Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.
Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and
lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight."
Proverbs 3:3-6

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