Thursday, February 19, 2015

"Do You Want to Resume Your Unfinished Solo Game?"

There is a game on our phones that Will and I enjoy playing called "Ticket to Ride," or "TTR," as it will be referenced for the rest of this post.  (Quick shout out to Erin Frizzell for introducing me to the game.)  This game is ideal for times when we're both home watching TV or doing chores or getting in bed right before we fall asleep.  It's a long-distance dating dream!  What's the thing I hate most about long-distance? Not being able to just "be" with the other person.  I love catching up with Will on the phone, but sometimes I wish we could just sit in the same room together and read. Or, play a game. TTR kind of allows us to simulate that. When we've already talked on the phone and caught up, or aren't in a place where we can talk at the moment, or just want to connect and play a fun game, TTR is there.  It has been a faithful friend to our relationship for about 9 months now.

Sometimes, when we are playing TTR, I get impatient waiting on Will to complete his turn (shocking, I know).  So, I'll exit our game and start my own game against the computer.  When Will plays his turn I get an alert that he has played and it asks me if I want to play on that game or "resume [my] unfinished solo game."  I always opt into playing on the game with Will without much thought, but the other night when I received this message it gave me pause.

The closer we get to this wedding the more I realize the intensity of my own selfishness, independent streak, and ego.  These traits show up in trivial things such as insisting upon carrying my own luggage, opening the car door myself, even not letting Will help me put on the new rain boots he got me for my birthday when they were a bit tricky to get on and off the first wear.  Unfortunately, these traits also show up in more meaningful areas like insisting upon my view of how we should look for a place to live or a timeline of getting something done or critiquing (okay fine, criticizing) Will when he does something just slightly different than I might have done it.  This weekend I even had a breakdown about losing my last name and the "brand" (yeah, squirm, I used that word) I had built for myself with that name while living on my own.  I confessed my fear of the anonymity I am going to have coming into a new town known only as "Will's wife" with no one knowing who in the world I am or what I did before I showed up in Prattville married to (in my humble opinion) the (former) most eligible bachelor in town.

All of this is part of me struggling to let go of my "unfinished solo game." Because I have learned that one's "solo game" is never completely finished before a future spouse steps into the picture.  One day, that person is just there and your "solo game" is cut short and your life is completely changed, albeit for the better.  Will and I are currently watching "How I Met Your Mother" from the beginning, and (spoiler alert) Season 1 ends with Lily and Marshall (the show's steady couple) breaking off their engagement because Lily leaves New York for San Francisco in pursuit of her dream of becoming an artist that she never realized because she met Marshall early in college and had melded her life with his ever since.  I assured Will, and I will assure the reader that my "unfinished solo game" is nothing of this sort.  I have no white whale that I was chasing and failed to achieve before meeting Will. Nothing like that. It's just that, no matter how much I yearned for a husband (and I did) or once realized Will would be that husband yearned to be engaged (and I did) or even now yearn to be married (and I do), there was and is a part of me that's just used to playing my "solo game."  As Will and I read books, go to our pre-marital counseling, and talk with married couples, I realize that this is the great challenge of marriage--to let go of one's "solo game" and enter into a "doubles match" with your partner.  In every aspect of life.  I'm not married yet, but I suspect this will be something I continue to lay at the foot of the cross and surrender throughout out marriage.

Speaking of the cross, yesterday was Ash Wednesday, and I had a(nother) major breakdown to Will (If you're still reading, are you surprised he hasn't left me by this point? I am. Everyday I'm surprised and thankful to find out he's still excited to marry me.) about how every aspect of my life feels like it's caving in on me and transition is all around and there are too many balls in the air, etc. etc.  And then I went to the Ash Wednesday service at church last night.  The theme, as it so often is on that day, was decluttering our lives to make space for contemplation and reflection which gives room to repentance and confession.  The service even began with a time just of silent prayer and reflection, the congregation being encouraged to "center ourselves" around the cross and set aside the busyness of the day to just "be."  I immediately almost burst into tears.  In fact, I fought tears the entire service. Not just at the reminder and reflection at my own sin and selfishness (see above), but from thanksgiving for an opportunity to come before the Lord and just "be."  I hadn't done that in quite some time and oh how my soul needed it!  I realized, in that service, that I not only had God been asking me if I wanted to "resume [my] unfinished solo game" in terms of my relationship with Will, but He had been asking me the same question in terms of my relationship with Him as well.  Did I want to continue to run around like a mad person try to check things off my list or did I want to take time to breathe and give my worries to him before going about my day?  Did I want to lower my shoulder and try to bulldoze through these last few weeks before marriage, or did I want to pause, look around, and realize the enormous gift He has given me and Will?  I realized I had been opting for the former but that my spirit needed the later.  I cannot play my "solo game" with God any better than I can play it with Will.  In both relationships it ends in frustration, exhaustion, and often times for me, tears.

So, no, TTR, I do not want to "resume [my] unfinished solo game."  As much as I am tempted sometimes to do so in order to prove my independence or worthiness or boast in my achievements, no. Instead, I'd like to learn to better play doubles.  I'd like to continue to grow as a partner, a friend, and (soon) a wife to the person I love most in this world.  And even more than that I'd like to continue to submit my desires to play my "solo game" with God at the foot of the cross where Jesus, who had every right to play solo, denied Himself, took on the sins of the world, and died for the sake of others.

Last night as I received the imposition of the ashes, my pastor said to me: "Jesus said, 'deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.'"  That's what I'd really like to do.

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