I can feel the seasons changing and it excites me. I am a Fall fanatic. It goes deeper than the PSL craze of our generation (not that that isn’t legitimate). My love of Fall makes every other season seem dull and bleak. Fall is my lifeblood. Cool Fall nights with the windows open speak to me. Staying home on a Sunday to make my homemade pumpkin chili and sip afternoon coffee. Going for a run in the infancy of morning and having a moist forehead with cool cheeks. These things mixed in with Pumpkins, the magnificent colors of the surrounding Mid-Michigan Foliage and the smell of the air off the lake touches my soul like nothing else. It’s mid September and as Summer struggles to hold on to the last claim it has in the spotlight of our minds, Fall is slowly stepping into the spotlight, quietly walking to center stage and humbly reaching for the mic. The change in weather has me thinking about change: present, past and future.
In the last year I’ve made some very big changes in my life and how I choose to live it. Now, while I’d like to step forward and make a big spectacle of myself taking credit for each and every choice I’ve made, I can’t. It wasn’t truly all my doing and I’d be ignorant to claim that it had been.
One year ago today I made the decision to be baptized. I went to the last service time at my church and surrounded by my fiance’ and the loving members of my small group I gave my life to Christ. I can’t explain the feeling and I’m not sure anyone truly can. I think it’s a different feeling for everyone. This was the first decision in a long list of many that has changed my life in a way that makes me know that I will never go back; this single decision was the foundation to the metaphorical house I was building.
Don’t misunderstand me, this was not a “quick fix”. I view this as a first step to a much longer process. I made this decision based on me wanting God to act in my life, on my heart and to walk with me through the good and bad of my everyday. I didn’t stroll out of the water with wings on my shoes in cartoon fashion and suddenly now I can do no wrong. That is most definitely not how this goes. I was Stephanie: Flawed human before I was baptized and I am still Stephanie: Flawed human after. The biggest difference is this: I have surrendered my life to trying to live as closely to God as I can. I have made the decision to bring Him my troubles instead of carrying them around with me all the time. I have made the decision to keep an open line of communication with Him and to do my best to live as he wished for us to live. I am not perfect and in a raw moment of truth, I will tell you; no Christian is. That’s what makes us Christians. This is a path that I have decided to walk. I chose to develop this relationship with God. To build a community around myself of people who will support me in my goals of understanding His word and in acting as a true Christ follower in my actions and my words.
This is the biggest and brightest change I have made in the last year and it is something I am so grateful to Him for. He put it on my heart to bring me back to the path he had carved for me. The path that he knows and knows well enough to guide me through.
Another aspect of my life I’ve been working on slowly changing is my ability to recognize those around me for who they are and not to strive for idealized relationships with them. I am learning to accept people at their face value. In the past, I have never been good at building boundaries for people I love. I am self-destructive in that way. I will bend over backwards for the people I love and there have been times I’ve bent over to the point of snapping in half without so much as a reciprocal forward toe tap from the person I love. Did that anger me? Yes, of course. But the change here that I am thankful for is the change that has allowed me to realize that the only person I should be angry with is myself for allowing it. Boundaries are not always negative, despite whatever “takers” have told you. Boundaries can be healthy, if acted upon in the right way. This is a continued effort in my life. Building the healthy kind of boundaries from the people in my life that know no better than to be takers. I can’t change them but I can protect myself. I can guard my heart while helping them. I can lead by example.
Now for a physical change. I am now working on becoming a runner. Last year at this time I couldn’t run for more than 3 minutes without being winded and quitting. Steve would encourage me to run using the C25K program with him just to help motivate me. And while it did (for a short minute) I quickly got discouraged. I’m a curvy lady and I’ve never been good at running, though it’s been a longtime goal of mine to accomplish. I had chalked it up to the fact that my body type isn’t built for it. Well, after months and months of working at it, I am now up to running 2.5 miles 2-4 times a week and building. My goal is to run in a 5K sometime this Fall or Winter. I can truly say that in running I find peace, motivation and it’s my quiet time that I use to center myself in a conversation with God.
One of the other biggest “life” changes in my recent past is my engagement to my loving fiance’. He is the man who was always meant for me and I know that without a doubt. Looking down the barrel of commitment with him has changed me from the inside out. What people don’t tell you when the shiny new ring goes on your left ring finger is this: that “newness” wears off fast. It becomes a blatant reality that all of your person’s annoying (and not) habits will be something you work with for life. And no amount of sugar-coating will change that. Being in a relationship with a man like Steve is something that has been so good for my soul. He is kind, loving and patient. He is genuine. He always tells you the truth, not just what you want to hear. I needed that more than I realized. He has taught me to be more patient. He has taught me to laugh, really laugh. He has taught me to love myself on a different level than anyone has ever taught me. He has shown me what appreciation looks like. And even more importantly, he has taught me that it’s OK if I ask him to please pick up his socks, do a chore or run to the store for me. I am not a machine and despite what I think, I can’t do it all. He is my other half and if we’re being honest, on the bad days my other 3/4’s. We can’t all always give a full 50%. That’s why we have partners. That’s why God is present in our lives, relationships and every breath we breathe.
And while these have been the biggest changes of the past year, life is ever-changing. As I discuss becoming first a wife, then a mother my opinions on so many things are changing. As I grow more mature and deeply rooted in faith, my perspective changes. As I work on myself from a physical and mental/emotional standpoint I recognize that change is good and I will continue to pursue it and test my comfort level with Him beside me.
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress”
– Frederick Douglass