Choices.

My friend sent me this random text the other day:

Jane the Virgin (a Netflix show) just reminded me of the part I keep forgetting. She says her parents are together, not because they’re meant to be, but because they chose each other. That’s so much more important than so many things- not the fairy tale meant to be stuff – but truly choosing once another over and over again. There’s probably God in there somewhere too, but I don’t know where right now.

I responded by saying I’d rather be chosen despite my flaws than be with someone who thinks I’m flawless. We then came to the conclusion that I’m cheesy. A big block of cheese.

Our conversation reminded me of my favorite quote from Jamie Tworkowski’s book, If You Feel Too Much:

“Love is a choice as much as it is magic.”

I’ve had people choose not to stay. And it sucked. But when I think about it that way, as their choice, it kind of takes the pressure off me thinking it was me, I was lacking the magic they needed to love me, or whatever it was that couldn’t make them stick around or see the same greatness I saw in them.

Since my parents’ divorce, I’ve convinced myself that in order for a marriage to work stars have to align, the sun has to set in the sky just right, your zodiac signs have to be completely compatible, and you have to date for 20 years to make sure this is your person.

Of course I don’t believe in all that, but you get the point. I thought there was a one in a billion chance of finding a person that the magic will be just right with. And all the happily married couples I knew were just lucky, or had done something right or good in their life and deserved to have a happy marriage.

I’ve only been a marriage and family therapist (in training) for a month or so, but what I’ve realized is this: Relationships are a choice. Marriage is a choice. Treating someone well is a choice. Happy marriages are made up of small choices daily. Not big, romantic gestures. And not magic.

People make the choice to come to therapy. They choose to come back weekly, admit where they’ve gone wrong, and apologize to their partner. They choose to change the words and actions that put them in therapy in the first place. It’s all up to them. I can show you where you need to grow, but in the end you only reap what you sow. And I’ve witnessed magical moments because of these choices.

I’ve been wondering how God really does fit into it all since my friend brought it up.

My spiritual life has greatly deteriorated since starting grad school. I moved to a city where I didn’t know anyone, and left behind a Christian community of friends and family that’s been developing since I was born. Not only that, but I transitioned during a season of grief that rocked my family, my identity, and my relationship with God.

I spent most of my first semester wondering where God was and why he wasn’t pulling me out of the hole I was in. Second semester I spent avoiding church, God, and anything that reminded me that I was neglecting an entire part of my life.

Although my friend’s text raised some questions about faith, what she didn’t know is that it answered some of mine. I’ve been wondering for months what’s been missing spiritually that caused this disconnect, this wandering-through-the-desert period. I never stopped believing in God, but I thought maybe he stopped believing in me.

God is unlike other people in that I don’t think I have to ever worry about him not choosing me. I’m pretty sure that was taken care of a long time ago. But what I hadn’t considered is that I’ve been making choices, too. I chose to sleep in every Sunday, I chose to sit alone when I did drag myself to church, and I chose not to tell anyone I was struggling. I chose to give into thoughts about not being chosen.

My relationship with God is the same as my relationship with anyone else important to me. It takes effort, choice, and discipline. And it isn’t held together by magic. It’s held together by daily acts of obedience, forgiveness (asking for it and giving it to myself), and routine that seem insignificant at the time, but add up to a stronger, more resilient relationship in the end.

With honest love,

Claire

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