Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Three L's: Love

"And the greatest of these is Love."

Two years ago today, on the hottest day on record in Lexington, Virginia, I married my best friend. I got to marry the only man I have ever loved, the only man I have ever kissed, the only man I have ever dated. And the best part is that I get to keep loving, kissing and dating him for the rest of my life.

I have learned more about love since I married Jacob Spencer than I ever had in my entire life before that. One thing in particular that I have learned is that love has a lot to do with laughter. My husband is the only person in the world who can make me laugh when I'm upset or angry. It is so infuriating to be made to laugh when I am really angry that I cannot help but want to tackle him and punch him in the face. But I can't tackle and punch him because he is bigger than me (and that would be really horrible and wrong), so I use pillows instead. Then, I realize that I am smacking my husband with pillows (not the most becoming use of my time), which makes me even angrier. So, I laugh harder and eventually I can't be upset and angry anymore (even though really I still am).

I'm pretty sure he makes me laugh because he loves me. He knows that if I am laughing, then I am not crying or yelling. Then, we can actually have the conversation we need to have about the problem we are having in the way we need to have it (which is with laughter and love, not crying and yelling.) Very wise man, my husband.

We find other things to laugh about as well. There is a joy in loving someone this much that can only be expressed in laughter. We laugh because we are in love and sometimes it's all we can do. It sounds ridiculous. It is. It's pretty funny to laugh because we are in love and to know how ridiculous we are to be laughing for no other reason. So, we laugh.

This is not to say that we do not have problems or never get frustrated with each other, treat each other poorly or make mistakes. Of course we do! (See the anger and the crying and the yelling up above). We are human. We are inherently sinful. We make all kinds of stupid mistakes. But part of love and marriage is learning that you can still love someone despite their (and your own) mistakes and flaws. For me, this is all about grace.

God has been gracious to me. I get into all kinds of scrapes, I doubt, I am selfish. There is nothing inherently good or worthy about me. I am not saying this to be self-depracating. This is the TRUTH. But God is gracious and loving toward me anyway, simply because that is who He is. That is what He did through His Son. I have been given a gift that I don't deserve (that's why it's a gift). And when I pause for a moment and am reminded that I've been given this gift, I can love my husband even when he doesn't deserve it. My husband can love me. We love because He first loved us. This has nothing to do with how loving or lovable we are. It has everything to do with this gift of grace.

I think there is also a big disconnect sometimes between loving someone and the expression of that love. I love my husband, but often in my marriage I have forgotten (or just simply refused due to laziness or conflict) to show my love for him in tangible ways. I'm working on it. And I can't wait to work on it for another year.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Three L's: Law School

I am back after a long hiatus of packing, travel, friends, celebration and finishing up our first year in Cambridge! I'll catch you up on all of that later. For now, I'll continue with the second of the three L's: Law School.

At some point in your life, you have probably encountered a rare little specimen of human kind that I would like to call the Law Student. As the wife of a brand new 2L (hooray!), and being most certainly NOT a Law Student, I have a somewhat unique perspective on Law School. Do I have opinions about things? My husband would be the first to tell you I most certainly do. Am I a smart and capable person? Absolutely. Would I ever become a Law Student? No. Way. On. Earth. I have other talents, but a love of the Law is not one of them. Perhaps that is because of the overwhelming need I feel for grace (and the fact that one of my favorite hobbies just so happens to be trespassing, which also just so happens to be a felony).

But, back to Law School. Law Students have one very special talent in particular that I would like to share with you. They can and will relate anything and everything to Law School. I have spent the majority of this past year conducting an experiment on this very phenomenon, so I can tell you for a fact that it unavoidably and inevitably occurs. Now, do not get me wrong Law Students, I think that you are brilliant and amazing. However, what I like to call "Project Normal Conversations" went something like this: MAJOR FAIL. Here are a few examples of this lovely (ahem, slightly annoying) phenomenon.*

Faith: Would you like to join Jacob and me for dinner? I was thinking about making butternut squash soup with bacon, apples and green onions and there will be plenty for three.
Anonymous Law Student #1: Sure. Wouldn't it be horrible if we ended up like those people in that case I just read? There were these three people stranded on a boat and two of them reverted to cannibalism because they got so hungry. Do you think that cannibalism is punishable in the event of extreme starvation?
Faith: ??
Faith: Do you watch the TV show Mad Men? Boy, that Betty Draper is a beauty. Did you see the episode where Lois runs over that British guy with a John Deere?
Anonymous Law Student #2: Yeah. That's probably an intentional tort. I'll have to look that up. Can I borrow Jacob's case book really quick?

*These conversations actually happened.

I realize that Law School requires a lot of work, time, effort, study and energy. I also realize that we talk most about the things that we love and that occupy our time. I also realize that in order to become a good lawyer, Law School is important. But, most especially, I realize that there is more to life than Law School, and that in order to interact with others in life, Law Students probably need to realize this too. Fortunately, Jacob and I went to a college where there were endless cocktail parties, meetings and events, and we had to learn to converse with other people socially and successfully (and not bore them to death).

I love my husband for being aware of this phenomenon and actively warding against it. He talks with me about love and life and anything I find interesting, like religion, science fiction, books, Doctor Who, how adorable kittens are and current events. For my sake, he doesn't relate them back to Law School, even when he really, really wants to. And because he shows his love for me in this way, I usually let him :)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Three L's: Learning

My husband Jacob and I have been married for nearly two years. For us this past year, happily ever after has looked a lot like what I like to call the three L's. Learning, Law School, and Love.

I'll start with Learning. Marriage has taught me more about myself and my husband than 17 years of education ever could. I have learned simple things, like how my husband takes his coffee (black), how to fold his pants the way he likes, that I am hopeless in the kitchen without a dishwasher, and that he is the only person in the world who can make me laugh when I'm angry or upset.

I have learned hard lessons as well. It is not fun to live on Law School loans and have zero disposable income. Forgiveness is both the easiest and the hardest thing to give another person and to receive and accept for yourself. It is all too easy to be consumed in one another and neglect everything and everyone else. It is easy to be selfish. Communication isn't merely about words.

But the biggest lesson I have learned this year is about Discipline - capital D. It was seemingly effortless in my school years to schedule my time, complete my assignments, and meet parent and teacher expectations. It was easy to be dedicated in a system that I felt rewarded for adhering to. When I accomplished the tasks set before me, I got an A, or into a good college, or the esteem of a favorite professor. In my marriage and personal life, however, discipline is a much trickier matter.

As an idealist, I have certain expectations for myself and for what I want my life to be like. I am a wife because I got married. But I want to be a good wife. The best wife to my husband that I can be. And that takes Discipline.

I recently came across a little book from the 70's called "How to be Your Own Best Friend." It sounds hokey, I know. But it changed the way I make choices in my life and gave me a new perspective on discipline and how it works. I could only get so far being the "best wife" because I willed to do it. I only have so much pure will power on my own, and that's usually used up with the dedication it takes to get out of bed in the morning. The authors of this little book urge us to ask ourselves one question - how will you feel if you do or don't do ______. It seems so simple, and yet I had never thought about it before. The book says:

"We can all help ourselves… First, you have to make a very basic decision: Do you want to lift yourself up or put yourself down? Are you for yourself or against yourself? That may seem like a strange question, but many people are literally their own worst enemy. If you decide you want to help yourself, you can choose to do the things that make you feel good about yourself instead of the things that make you feel terrible."

Now, granted, this can only go so far, because we all make mistakes, are sinful, and need Jesus to redeem and forgive us. But it works so well in situations like this:

Faith: I don't feel like doing the dishes. I'd rather watch Desperate Housewives.
Faith's Inner Dialogue: If you don't do the dishes now, you won't feel very great tomorrow when you wake up and have a kitchen full of grossness. And then they will just pile up and never go away. Then how will you feel?
Faith: I think I'll do the dishes.

And with that, I have dishes to do! More on the three L's later.