I recently completed the A-Z Challenge, a challenge calling bloggers to post 26 days of April. I heard about the challenge a week or so before the kickoff and knew some bloggers had been preparing for months refining posts, relating content, linking material.
I had only days to prepare,
And three jobs,
And five boys,
And a slew of other stuff,
But I figured, “I post 6 days a week anyway what’s the big deal?” Blogging my way through the alphabet shouldn’t be too hard.
Besides, everybody else was doing it; I wanted to jump in on the fun!
I began proud of my posts
They were topics I knew only too well,
But somewhere along the way, something happened.
I’m not even sure where it happened or why or when I began to notice it, but blogging my way through the alphabet turned to sludging my way through.
The A-Z Challenge lost its appeal. I felt constrained, restricted. There were so many other things I wanted to write about, things happening in my life, with the boys, with our faith,
But I had committed to this A-Z Challenge!
I resented it and began to think of quitting.
So what if I just gave up?
People did it all the time.
I had done more than most!
But I kept going.
I had made the commitment. I had given my word.
I would finish the darn challenge.
But I would never commit to another restricting experience like this again!
There was some comfort in knowing I would not repeat my mistake, but that still left me bitterly scraping through the second half of the alphabet.
But I didn’t want to finish with resentment so the question became…
Could I Find Good in the A-Z Challenge?
I had to admit, it wasn’t all bad. Some really great people stopped by my blog and encouraged me. I got followers on Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook, and found some really neat blogs I enjoyed reading too.
I began thinking that maybe there was some benefit to this after all.
And I had more choices:
- I could quit the A-Z Challenge completely. Walk away and be done with it.
- I could finish the A-Z Challenge with resentment and frustration just to say I had done it.
- I could find things to like about the challenge, even if it’s small, and begin planning ways to be happy with it.
The A-Z Challenge could not provide me with fulfillment the way I had approached it, but if I changed what I was doing maybe I could learn to fall in love with the A-Z Challenge all over again.
It was up to me to use my strengths to make the Challenge better, not the other way around.
And I began to realize how this challenge reflects marriage today.
How too many jump into marriage thinking of all the fun it will be or because everyone is doing it or because the time seems right.
How too many spend months studying DJ recommendations and wedding dresses patterns but little time studying recommendations for conflict resolution and patterns of successful marriages,
How so many enter marriage with the, “We are living together anyway, so what’s the big deal?” philosophy.
But somewhere along the way, something happens.
And we’re not sure where it happened or why or when we began to notice it, but the joy of the wedding turned to sludging through marriage.
Our spouse lost his/her appeal. We feel constrained, restricted. There were so many other things we wanted do.
Some will say, “But we committed to this stupid marriage!”
We resent it and think of quitting.
So what if we just gave up?
People do it all the time.
We’ve done more than most have!
And so 50% of all marriages end in one or both spouses walking away, justifying departure in one way or another.
Others stick it out by bitterly scraping through marriage.
They will say they would never commit to another restricting experience like this again!
They blame others when life isn’t better;
But there are the few who seek and find some good in the marriage and yes, even in their spouse!
The change comes from inside them, not from the spouse. The person who makes the change, who chooses to act differently, discovers marriage doesn’t always provide fulfillment the way we approach it, but she makes changes within the marriage, treating her spouse as she vowed to not as she wants to, and that couple often slowly finds love again, a different kind of love, a stronger Love.
You may not be able to change your spouse, like I could not change the A-Z Challenge (or my spouse either!) but I am glad I stuck it out and found the good. Next year, I will be doing the A-Z Challenge again, but I’ll do it the way that works for me rather than confining myself to the formulas I thought others wanted me to have.
You have the power to make yourself happy in your current situation (“Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials.” ~ James 1:2) Don’t let anyone tell you differently. You can change your actions and your actions can change the world for your family and for many others.
Your Turn To Share:
What do you do when you are backed into a corner?
- Quit the challenge completely? Walk away and be done with it?
- Finish the Challenge with resentment and frustration just to say you had done it?
- Find something, even if it’s small, to like about the challenge and begin planning ways to be happy with it.