Sunday, March 30, 2014

Success, Marriage and Spiritual Growth

Every achievement I make has a component of cooperation involved in it.
This post is for my husband of 22 and 1/2 years - the hand that I hold and the wind in my sails.

I have had some very nice compliments this week from my professors and from my friends and it's very flattering. But it's also kind of disquieting.

I have been considering applying for a fellowship that would take me overseas for a week to cover international aid efforts in the Middle East. I mentioned the possibility in passing to a colleague and she passed it on to others who have written to encourage me. They really believe I could do this. I have gotten huge support, ideas and backing from my professors, family and friends, too.

Frankly, this terrifies me.

What if they say yes? Yes, it would change my life. It would change the direction of my work and give it some real substance. But, wow! I never thought I'd go this direction. Sometimes, God's ways are kind of, well, off-beat.

There are 3 professors (in 3 different fields) trying to convince me that their Master's program is the best Master's program and I should really continue with my studies after I finish my bachelor's degree. I am game, really. Now, I just have to figure out if I can find the right combination of money and time to make it happen. Oh, and I have to pick a field!

One of my professors was joking with me Friday afternoon and said I was a pretty hot commodity. Everyone wants me and for good reason - I am (and I quote him here) "An excellent student". He opined that it must be nice to know that.

And it is. It is really nice to be recognized for your talents. But, so many people have been heaping compliments on my head that it's actually beginning to feel a little uncomfortable.

The truth is, I am a remarkably shy person and I squirm a little bit at unbridled enthusiasm for my accomplishments. I am also a naturally skeptical person. One might even say I am a "negative" person. I am always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Sometimes this fear of "doing it wrong" paralyzes me and I freeze. I just stop moving altogether. I think this is in large part because these are not my accomplishments alone.

Everything I have ever accomplished has been due to someone else pushing me, believing in me or inspiring me.

Because of this, the next step that I take will impact more than just me. If I do it right, it could be a very positive change for my entire family. But if I do it wrong, it will hurt more than just me.

When I married Michael I had no plans to be a Church Musician. I had been singing in the choir at church, but I had no plans of making that a career. It was through his encouragement and musical taste that I became fascinated with polyphony and chant. It was on these that I built my professional reputation.

At Michael's urging, I developed a choir. With his encouragement, I maintained it. He worked long hours doing hard labor so that I could continue to work at a job that I loved, but would never pay well. And, through his sacrifices, I became a pretty decent music director.

Going back to school was a real step out of my comfort zone. But Michael encouraged me to move forward. In my darkest moments, I worry that I am causing financial pressure to build on my family, and that 2015 graduation date looks too far away. Michael continually steps into the gap and makes it all happen.

For the past two weeks, he has been working 12 hour days in order to make it possible for me to spend as much time as I can on my studies and not worry about the financial end of things. All of this while listening to me talk about all my classes and sort through the tangle of questions I have about what I am learning or reading or writing about.

He doesn't ask for thanks. For him, it's all part of the job: Love, Honor and Cherish. He never gives up on me, even when I give up on myself.

So, when my professors say things like: "You're an excellent student!" or "We need people like you!" I am pretty proud of myself. But standing right behind me, pushing me kicking and screaming into the spotlight is the person who makes it all possible. And he does so to his own personal detriment.

That is what marriage is all about.

We pour our lives out for each other and deny ourselves to help lead our spouses to holier lives. As we live our vocation as Husband and Wife, we move ever closer to God, not just as a couple, but as individuals. Each of us fosters the gifts of the other to give greater glory to God.

I sometimes wonder what I give back to my marriage. I often feel like all I do is take. I can be a pretty harsh critic. I am tough to please and I demand perfection, not just from myself, but from all others who touch me.

This is an unreasonable expectation. I know that. The truth is, I need to do a better job of lifting Michael up. I have been woefully falling down on the job.

Now, I have to figure out what to do about it. Maybe this post is a start.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful! We just had a parenting group yesterday and touched on this. I need to do a lot more "lifting up" as well. A good resolution for this last part of Lent. Thanks, Katie and Michael, for your inspiration!