“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17
I wrote a few weeks ago about the time I get to spend with the guys from my Men’s Development Program community and how valuable it is to me. Time and time again these guys have proven to me the truth contained in the verse above. They make me a better man by holding me to a high standard, confronting me in love when I fail, struggling through the tough times with me, and encouraging me in my success. They are a critical part of my life, and I’m starting to learn that they are a critical part of my marriage.
Tonight I spent several hours after class with my group of guys, and it was such an encouragement. Laughing and joking around is fun and a great way to unwind, but these guys also pose tough questions. They push and probe about what I think and say. They don’t let me off easy. They hold me to account, and want the best things for me. Nights like tonight are like water to a thirsty man for me. They are not negotiable.
I think every married man needs to have a community of men around them like this. I can truly say that my marriage is in better shape because of the counsel and correction that these men have given me over the last seven months. Their help and love for Lindsey and I is invaluable.
So, married men this is my piece of advice for the day, if you don’t have men like this in your life, find them. Wives, if your husband does not have this, lovingly encourage him to seek it out. We are not prompted to change on our own, its too comfortable. We need to be challenged, and that is what a strong community of men can do for each other.
I’ve mentioned my Missional Community through the Women’s Development Program before. They are dedicated, intelligent, beautiful, loving, and crazy. And they have invaded my life in the best way possible.
We group text a lot. We’ve had some group texts that I’ve had to edit on my phone because other eyes should never see them. We share our trial and triumphs, our needs and nuttiness.
Yesterday, we had another epic group text fest. I was home taking my temperature every half hour, so I got to participate at a level that I am not able to while teaching. What I loved most about it was that we went from the girls praying about my health, to dessert recipes, to hair stylists, to Super Bowl parties. It was wonderful and random and perfect– a lot like our group 🙂
These pictures are from our Winter Retreat in December. The second one speaks for itself.
These women invaded my life, but most importantly, they invaded my heart.
Today we drove out to Driftwood for Salt Lick barbecue. It’s Lindsey’s favorite BBQ joint, and it’s in my top 5, so we have been looking forward to this all weekend. Lindsey can absolutely demolish a plate of ribs, it’s her favorite thing in the world.
We drove out there with our friends to celebrate the three day weekend and an early birthday. It was a good end to a very relaxing weekend.
In addition to just being a good time, it really reminded me that having a community around you is important. Time spent with friends, talking about the ups and downs of life with them, and simply being part of a loving community is extremely important for our marriage. Honestly, days like this make our marriage stronger, because of the people around us who care about us and invest in our lives. Our friends are invaluable.
So, we’ll share a few pictures with you (click through the jump to see them all) from our day. Note, there are guys in our group, but we were too focused on the all you can eat BBQ to take pictures like the girls. Continue reading
Brian and I have been racing around for a couple weeks now.
Tonight was our missional community group, so I couldn’t stay at the school until late (though, I just now finished my lesson and it’s almost midnight– ugh). We had just a few moments to throw together a meal and spend some time together before we went our separate ways (guys and gals met separately tonight), and what did we do with those moments? Well, we got upset with each other.
I kept thinking about it afterwards and it just made me sad. It was all a result of not communicating well with each other. Again. And I feel like I so rarely see my handsome husband these days– so I hate that we squandered some of that time.
Now, we both rebounded quickly and moved on, but I haven’t stopped thinking about it. Brian is on my side– he’s on Team Lundin and so am I. So, why don’t we act like that more? And on a day where I said multiple times that I really need to be intentional where I’m spending my social/free time (since there’s so little of it), why did we waste those moments today?
I know married people do this. I know friends do this. I know that this is normal. But I don’t necessarily want to be normal, here. I would like us to be atypical in this. And the only way I can see that happening is through a lot of prayer. We’re both tired and grouchy, and have brains that are thinking about work when we’re looking at each other. It’s going to take something outside of us to change what’s going on between us.
On this blog we talk a lot about the word “community”. Specifically we talk about “our” community. This usage is not very common, so I want to explain it and why it is so important for us.
Honestly, this is one of those words that Christians of our particular variety tend to overuse and maybe even misuse. You don’t typically hear people say things like, “I want to live in community” or “my community group is really important to me.” It’s just kind of odd to be honest. When most people hear the word community they tend to think of either a really great TV show1 or their town/neighborhood. So I’m sure this is confusing.
So when we talk about community we mean two things. First, it specifically means our missional, community group at church. These are people meet with regularly, study the Bible with, share the deepest things in our lives and love each other like a family. In a real sense this small group is very directly our church. Second and more broadly, we mean the general call we have to cultivate a group of people around us who we love, are involved with, share the ups and the downs of life, and grow with. For both of us this second group is broader, but just as dear to us as the first.
Lindsey and I value community very much, we believe it is essential to a healthy marriage. Without men in my life who ask the tough questions and expect high things of me I can easily slip into being a husband I don’t want to be. By having women who Lindsey is completely open and honest with she is able to grow in her faith and understanding.
Christians use code words way too much. We use them so much I am consciously trying to reduce my use as much as possible. We just end up having these weird words and phrases that no one else understands, and that is not good. And in this case it is particularly egregious. Humans are made for this type of life, this life in community. We are made to love and to be loved. We work best when we are open and honest, it brings out the best in us.
So the next time you read us talk about “community” that is what we mean. It’s important to us, it’s important to our marriage. And we hope you see the value and joy in it too.
Monday, I posted on here about meal planning and asked you all for your help and wisdom.
Tuesday, I got some incredible tips on furniture shopping from my friend Kari. I’ve been shopping for furniture all summer (with no luck!) and it had never occurred to me to ask others for insight and advice.
Tuesday evening, I posted on here about realizing that asking Brian for help isn’t nagging– it’s necessary.
Anyone noticing a theme?
I’m not always the quickest to realize things. I often tell people that God has to resort to using the “holy two-by-four” on me because I rarely hear any of the whispers or feel the nudges. I’m starting to wonder how long this whole asking-people-for-help thing has been staring me in the face and I’ve walked past it, struggling in my solitude.
Ironically, when I worked for the UT Learning Center, I would begin my public speaking sessions by informing the crowd that the number one characteristic of successful people is help-seeking behavior– knowing when and how to ask for help.
Like I said yesterday, I’m not so good at asking for help. I love to help others, but when it comes to needing it myself, I don’t want to put anyone out, to seem needy, or look like I can’t handle things. But you ladies who commented Monday helped me, Kari helped me, and Brian helps me all the time. And everyone did it gladly (or at least voluntarily ;-)).
I need the help of those who have gone before me, those with wisdom and experience, and those that see me regularly enough to know what’s going on with me. I also need the help of the man who married me. I could try to do this on my own, but the overwhelming evidence here points to much more success if I don’t.
Abby, Laura, Kari, Kerrie, Jill, Rachel, Jennifer, Sarah and Michelle,
Thank you for taking care of my wife. Tuesday night group meetings are always an important time for us but there is something special about the time she spends with you. When Lindsey comes home from her Tuesday nights with the girls to tell me about how you care for her, cry and laugh with her, are honest with her and most of all pray with her I could not be happier.
It is a humbling thing for a man to care so much for his wife, but also know that he cannot provide everything; and that is where you all step in. You girls take care of Lindsey in the ways that I cannot. You understand her emotional side and speak to her in a way that I am not able to. You see things from her perspective that I don’t.
I am very thankful for the ways that you serve Lindsey. You are all so supportive of her, of our marriage, and of me. It’s a wonderful thing to have folks like you in our lives daily.
I know that I posted about this yesterday, but today I got to see it even more clearly than before.
Our missional community group split guys and gals tonight. We did that so that we could be honest about our areas of struggle in a way that we can’t with the mixed group. I was hesitant going into tonight because we haven’t done this really well yet. It just felt like conversation stayed mostly on the surface and that we didn’t trust one another enough. Tonight, the Holy Spirit took over.
Tonight we shared honestly and openly and asked each other hard questions. Tonight we loved and supported one another and prayed over each other. Tonight was real and authentic and beautiful. I’m so grateful for these women. They bring me closer God, which makes me a better wife. I couldn’t wait to get home tonight and tell Brian what God was doing.
It was a great example of why community is essential. We are created to live life with each other. When we have people in our lives who love us, care for us, and fight for us, it helps us to keep our eyes on what is important.
In the past two weeks I have finally had time to do this thing I’ve really wanted to do– I’ve been getting to know the women in my missional community group from church. And I found out that I am surrounded by beautiful women.
I know in my head that living in community is important. I know that I need to have women in my life who share my beliefs and spiritual goals, women that will call me out on my sin and my selfishness, women that will point me back to God. But living that out is a very difficult thing.
Living that out means being honest, being vulnerable, showing how dark and disgusting you are on the inside. Living that out means loving others when their dark and disgusting bits are showing, and helping them to see those bits and ask God to change them. It’s tough. We are selfish, rebellious creatures.
During the school year, I didn’t have the time to see these women one on one, but that’s what I’ve been doing. It’s been incredible. There are women in my life who have been through serious suffering and sorrow, and they just smile. They share how God brought them through it and never left their sides. There are women in my life who have similar struggles to my own, they have the same worries or fears, women with the same questions– and now that we’ve shown each other these things, we can get through them together. We can pray together and we can pray for one another.
I just feel so overwhelmed by them; they are so beautiful! They have these hearts that just want to love and to serve, and I am so blessed to know them and get to walk alongside them.