Saturday, January 4, 2014

New Year, New Life, New Practices

I quit taking piano lessons on three separate occasions as a child. The idea of being able to play the piano was always so attractive to me. I saw my sister's fingers glide over the keys and pour out "Moonlight Sonata" and "the Flight of Bumblebee" and I wanted to have the same magical effect. If my sister could do it so easily, so could I. When I sat down at the keyboard- my instructor at my side- I realized that my learning curve was steep. I'd have to play scales and learn the names of the keys even before I'd plink out 15 second songs and jangling chords. I knew but didn't understand that piano would take an enormous amount of practice. I had hoped to be a child prodigy, pouring out compositions on the first try. But I was the rule, not the exception. Piano wouldn't come to me easily- or even naturally. So I quit.

This to attempt to explain the person that I have been throughout most of my life. My first response to a challenge is often to question whether I am cut out of the necessary cloth. I quit when things get hard. Because, if I were meant to do it it'd be easier for me, right? 

Granted, I have learned many things through practice. I write these sentences (most of them complete and cohesive- I hope) with 25 years of practice under my belt. 6 years were spent in intensive programs for the express purpose of learning how to better transport thought to page. My ability to write didn't sprout up in me overnight. Still, I began to focus on my writing back in 5th grade when I realized I had an aptitude for it. This is how I work, and how I imagine many other people function as well. We invest our personal energy in those things in which we already exhibit potential.

That is why my current journey is so different from most others in my past. You see, I don't think marriage is coming super naturally to me.

Let me clarify a few points before anyone misunderstands: 
  1. I am so happy I am married to Stan. 
  2. I do not regret getting married.
  3. I'm not going to quit this marriage like I quit piano.

No one let me go into this marriage thing blind. I was well aware of the fact that marriage is a practice. Going in, I knew I would wake up each morning and not automatically know how to "play all the right notes" in married life. But I thought I'd at least have more natural aptitude for it. 

I know, I know - you're all sitting there going, "But Sarah's gotta be a great wife! She's so sweet and optimistic and crafty. And she can cook!" (I flatter myself with your flattery of me.) Sure, some of my blog-related skills are coming in handy in marriage. The mister enjoys my cooking. Our home has been exponentially cuter this Christmas season with a two-person audience to enjoy the decorations. And I think, in general we're both really good at loving each other and caring for each other. But as newlyweds, there are a million things every day that happen that just miss the mark. You know, some "bad chords", if we continue with the metaphor. 

Going in to this marriage, I knew that one of my biggest challenges would be my patience. Poor mister, he gets the brunt of my impatience, daily. I did my best to start working on this challenge even before the marriage began. I have spent time, energy and prayer working on creating an attitude of patience towards my husband. Though I know there's plenty of work yet to be done, I do think my skill set has grown, my aptitude improved. (He might tell you differently...)

But here's where I'll get real: It's not HIM I need to be patient with.

Just like when I was trying to learn the piano (or any number of other quickly quit things throughout my days), I am expecting myself to immediately master the very hard task of being a wife. There is an article I stumbled into on the internet the other day that said that many newlyweds make the mistake of thinking that they can "microwave" their marriage. Of course, a marriage needs to be "slow roasted" and not nuked. I read that, and new I was treating our marriage - and my new role as wife - a little too much like a Hot Pocket.

Sure, the mister needs me to be patient with him. But I really need to practice patience with myself. I am going to make so many mistakes. And I can't be so frustrated with myself when I make them. The skills that are necessary to become a great wife and 1/2 of a great marriage won't come overnight. I am not a marriage prodigy. But I'll learn to be a better wife through years of practice, years of plinky songs, and jangly chords. Practice means a willingness to be okay with doing things imperfectly as you work towards something better. The little perfectionist in me needs to let go and enjoy the unpredictability of our perfectly imperfect marriage. 

So that, if anything, is my New Year plan. 1. Be patient with myself, the work God is doing in me, and in my marriage. And 2. to intentionally enjoy the mess on the way to success.

a messier moment from our beautiful wedding day

Also- I plan to blog more. More wedding pictures are forthcoming.


  1. Hey Sarah great post!

    I always take comfort in the 10,000 hour rule that Malcom Gladwell talks about in his book Outliers. He says that it takes 10,000 hours to truly become an expert in something - which normally takes about 10 years. Bobby Fisher was considered a prodigy because he became an expert in 9 years =)

    Glad to be on this journey with you and Jeremy!

  2. Hmmmm. Nice metaphor. And spot on. You will always be the hardest on yourself; always have been and most probably always will be. You are so much further down the "marriage road" than I was at your age. And at that point I'd had five years of success and failures, with two additional and adorable variables thrown into the mix. And after 35 plus years... this old dog is STILL learning new things about your father. That's what keeps life interesting... and fun! Love ya oodles... both of you.


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