Just As I Am

When Nick and I went on our first date in high school, you would have never pinned us as a couple. In fact, many people didn't think it was such a good idea. I was pretty wild and loud and assertive. Nick was warned to keep away. With good reason, because he was a straight-laced star student who was rooted in faith and had a quiet demeanor. I mean, you couldn't have put two more opposite teenagers together.

My main goal the first few times we hung out was to get him to loosen up and have some fun (insert parties and bad decisions). I believe my Grandmother's first words after she met him were, "Aw, that poor boy doesn't even know what he's getting into." We spent a good portion of our dating season attempting to change one another. I was convinced he would join my crazy and he was desperate to tame me. After a year of going around on that dysfunctional merry-go-round, we encountered one of those times in life that just change everything. We were expecting our first daughter.  

Becoming a mother (like most women will attest) changed me drastically. All in all, I molded myself to mimic the behavior of Nick and all the good Christian people I saw around me. Nick took a long time to think through decisions, so now so did I. Nick was quiet, and now so was I. Nick was reserved and modest, and now so was I. Nick was never too much of anything to anyone, and now neither was I. I wanted to be with Nick forever, I loved him so deeply, and I wanted to be a good mother for the most precious bundle of joy I now held in my arms. In my mind, both of them deserved a quiet, meek, submissive woman who did all the good things and was never too much. I bought cardigans and swore off "who I used to be." Oh, the satisfaction that not being "different" made me feel. Now we were a couple, a family, of all "good people." 

Fast forward eleven years later of being together and seven years into marriage. I have recognized and now embrace that as a couple, Nick and I are very different people. Through the process of molding myself into being just like him because I thought it was the right thing to do, and would make up for who I was when we met, I've learned a few things:  

There's no one way to "christian." 

The differences between two people in a relationship don't make one person bad and one person good.

You can't maintain yourself as something you're not for too long. 

Life experiences will change who you are.

The longer you are with someone, the more opportunities you have to meet who they transform into next.

You cannot change your partner. 

If you allow yourself to be different, you will more easily see how you are also very similar. 

In order to grow as a person, we need to surround ourselves by those that are not like what we already know.

Nick and I started out as opposite teenagers attempting to control and change the other to be more like ourselves. I then viewed Nick's personality as the right way and mine as the wrong way. I did everything in my power to change to be more like what I thought I should be like within our marriage.

Through long talks, Nick has reassured me that I am wonderful just the way I am. I have finally taken the truth of God's intention to heart, that when making me this way, He had a purpose in mind for my life and in my marriage. These days, my husband will attest that I'm not as submissive or meek. I have strong opinions and every single emotion I have is felt deeply and passionately. My laugh is extra loud and my personality is "in your face." Most of the time, I say what other people are thinking but deem inappropriate. I've grown within our marriage to be more me and less Nick. What I thought would be hurtful to our relationship is actually what makes us both strong as individuals and as a couple.

Now we acknowledge that we are similar in some ways. We are both fiercely determined and passionate. We both love God and our families intensely. We don't mind hard work or adversity and we strive when put to the challenge. We both have high standards and expectations for life and success. 

Along with the similarities, we've been able to embrace our differences. I'm still a bit more loud and silly and wild, and he's still quiet and reserved. We are still one family full of good people, but one that allows both of us to live into just how God made us unapologetically. 

This is Candace. She hates long walks on the beach and would prefer a short drive to get a doughnut. Her creative spirit leaves her husband constantly guessing which room she'll decorate next and her kids requesting elaborate birthday parties. She'll tell you the truth, even if you don't want to hear it. But don't worry, she'll make you laugh to soften the blow. Her heart longs to share the realness of her life and provide someone else a "me too" in a moment of isolation. Words are her thing; she writes to heal. God grasped a hold of Candace as a teenage mama, and she's been desperate for His love and sensitive to His voice everyday since.