Last week was possibly one of the best weeks of my life. One of the best weeks of my life … at a MARRIAGE RETREAT. Yes, you heard that right! Sounds riveting, huh?! But it was. It really, truly was. And I can guarantee that if you talked to almost any couple that was at the CONNECT retreat last week, they would tell you the same. Right from the very first night — we ALL felt it. I mean, everyone was talking about it. That God’s presence was so strong + He was ready to change lives + marriages.
Going into the retreat, Caleb + I had just recently entered an exciting but difficult season of our marriage (which I promise to share more about in the upcoming months). A season of digging deep — really deep — into how the experiences of our past have made us who we TRULY are at our core. We are just at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to unpacking what all these experiences mean to us as individuals + as husband + wife — but what I can tell you for now is the process is so hard, but so, SO good. I’ve never felt more connected or more in love with Caleb. I sincerely mean that.
As you can imagine, just breaking into this season + then going to a marriage retreat that is intense (in a good way!) was really powerful for us. I feel like we not only gained wisdom from those around us + the knowledge of some practical tools we can use to communicate better + dig deeper into what God is doing in our hearts + marriage in this season of our lives, but we also just received so much encouragement to press on + fight for a marriage that isn’t just good, but GREAT; what God truly designed for us.
Because I could probably write a ridiculously-long blog post on the specifics of the things we learned/are learning, I’m going to save those for their own blog posts + instead, today, we are each going to share one of our biggest takeaways from the retreat! So without further adieu …
What I’m about to say might seem, at first, like it isn’t related to marriage … but I promise it is. Ahhhhh, sharing a lot of heart right now. Here we go. I knew that over the past couple of years since our business has really started growing, I had been struggling with my confidence as an artist/photographer (a Catch-22, it seems). The unfortunate reality is that I think a LOT of creatives + photographers would probably say the same thing. It is SO easy to compare yourself to others + instantly, I mean, INSTANTLY feel deflated. “I’m not as good as them.”
I’m not good enough.
This is something I have wrestled through time + time again, feeling as though I’ve made strides in the right direction, only to have something trigger those negative thoughts yet again. What I DIDN’T realize, however, was something that Caleb pointed out to me during some one-on-one time we had during the retreat. He told me that he didn’t think my confidence had changed as just a photographer, but as a person. He told me …. ahhhhh … that I wasn’t the same joyful, confident, outgoing person he first met almost five years ago. And he was sad, because He wanted that for me, so badly. But he didn’t know what to do + the reality is that it was affecting our marriage. Whether that be stubbornness in order to “prove” myself worthy, or anger because I was feeling so frustrated with myself + hopeless at times … whatever it was, my lack of confidence not just as a photographer but as a person was affecting our marriage in unhealthy ways.
The minute he said it, I KNEW it was true. I also knew that this is not how I was intended to live. So, I’m unpacking this. Digging deep. Taking the journey to discover what it means to be confident in myself FOR myself, + for him.
For me, the effects of the retreat hit short after the first talk on the first night. I sat there hearing the bells of connection ringing uncomfortably true in my ears. Because of things that have happened to me in my past (my mother leaving us as children + then passing away a few years after) I have a bunch of feelings that I have never worked through. Before the retreat, Maison + I had been experiencing some of the effects of this + honestly, were feeling somewhat hopeless. She would say something to me (like something that was frustrating her, for example) + I would feel like I wasn’t good enough + then ultimately feel like Maison was going to leave me. Just like my mom did.
When I stop + think about it, this just sounds so false. I know deep down that Maison loves me + would do anything to make me feel differently. However, because of my coping mechanisms that I’ve built from childhood, I was making it extremely hard for her to show me that. To put it bluntly, you could say that I have been a lukewarm person for quite some time + that “feelings” have been hard for me. But this week at CONNECT, I was blessed to learn that the first step to healing is to recognize the underlying feeling behind the wall I was putting up. To just take a minute + really FEEL. I’ll be the first to admit that it feels VERY uncomfortable to do this, but I know that God brings healing + that if I just take a step, any step, + continue to pursue Him, that even I can be used by God.
What these steps look like … I’m not fully sure of. But I know that as soon as I take one step, the overall path will become a whole lot clearer. Furthermore, I know that I have the love of my life beside me to help me grow in to the child of God + husband I was designed to be.
The grounds at Winshape are equal parts peaceful + breathtaking. I just cherish this place!!
One of the afternoons, we did an experiential activity — this means a lot of things, but one of them is walking a short tight rope with your spouse + meeting in the middle for a kiss!
Another AMAZING part of the retreat is the community — everyone attending is married + in business together! How awesome : ) These are our friends Eric + Jamie!
Recognize these guys!?!
And the Manthey’s!!