This blog was created to serve as an inspiration to all who read aspire, to love and to live a life of purpose.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Marriage Gist: Flaws and All

#Couplegoals #RelationshipGoals

I may have been late to the party but I started seeing/noticing these hashtags on social media around about 2014. 2017 is more than halfway gone and I still cannot make sense of the thought process that goes with seeing an Instagram picture of a couple and automatically making it a goal you want to attain.  I often wondered what exactly about the picture gave sufficient premise. But I may be overthinking it.

I'm not trying to be a scholar here (ok, maybe I am :-)) but a goal is defined as "the object of a person's ambition or effort; an aim or desired result." But then a relationship/marriage is so much more than a is a cocktail of personalities, careers, baggage, emotions, upbringing, children, the disappointment of past relationships, past hurt, flaws, pressure, life's rollercoaster, etc. More so, it is evolving WORK. So, how would you know what your ambition or desired result is just from seeing one carefully prepared for, posed for, carefully selected, edited, possibly photoshopped, picture on social media?

I just don't get it. But even though that's not what I want to focus on in today's post, it's kinda sorta a smooth segway.

Marriage. Flaws.

If you are married, by now you've learned that marriage is way beyond the wedding. It is not just a journey, it is a committed where you have to wake up every morning deciding to continue to co-pilot. Do you remember when you first met your spouse? How perfect he or she seemed? How much s/he worked to get your attention and to keep it? How you couldn't possibly imagine what this perfect human being's flaw could be?

Then you get married and the honeymoon phase fades right before your eyes. And you realize that this perfect human being is not perfect at all. In fact, he gets home, literally steps out of his pants at the doorway to the bedroom and leaves them in the same exact position for days? Actually, what would have taken you an hour to accomplish, it takes her weeks to start? He snores. She doesn't like to clean. He is inconsiderately sarcastic. She gossips too much.  She spends too much. He does not know how to control his temper. He does not communicate well. She lies unnecessarily. He is insecure. She is too much of an introvert. She speaks before she thinks. He is too blunt.

The list is endless. But each character defect is real and everytime it rears its ugly (no, beautiful) head, it seems so threatening, sometimes it makes you question the essence of it all.  However, the fact that we are human literally equals that we are flawed. There is no such thing as a perfect husband or a perfect wife. Regardless of how perfect anyone looks on paper, there is no single human being that checks off every box on the checklist you created for your perfect spouse. We were all born of/from something, somewhere, some pain..... There's hardly anyone who has lived into adulthood and not experienced some sort of pain and/or hardship that has shaped his or her character. Often, the collateral damage of the formation of said character is a defect, flaw or multiple...
This is the very reason why you should not get married without first discovering, embracing, loving and coming to terms with who you truly are: flaws and all. This realization educates you on the areas of your character that need continuous work. More so, it gives you the maturity and ability to not only love someone else but to committedly accept them, flaws and all. Because that's what marriage truly is.

We often think, "if only my husband was more sensitive", our marriage would be perfect. If only my wife would just lose some weight, I will more attracted to her and then I won't have wandering eyes. If only my husband was rich, we would live in a mansion and be happy.  If only my husband was spontaneous, our marriage would be enjoyable.

But what about what s/he does have? Is he kind? Is she committed to you? Is he a great provider? Is she a great mother? Consider the entire package because guess what? If everyone laid out what their spouse's flaws were and you were given the option to exchange your  spouse's flaws with someone else's, you will probably run screaming in the other direction. Your piece of the cake is what you signed up for. The commitment you made when you said your vows did not read "only when he puts the toilet seat down", or "only when she can be in the mood for sex every night." It read, for better or for worse.

Now, I am not saying settle or condone an abusive marriage, physical, emotional or otherwise as a flaw. That's not a flaw. That's an epidemic. I am saying work on embracing your package as it was delivered. God gave you this man or this woman to love and care for. So, make a daily choice to do just that. He never said it will be easy. But it's worth it.

There is no perfect time or place to be happy. The world is not (and never will be) devoid of problems.  If you keep waiting for the perfect time to be happy, you may never be. We often fantasize about a perfect life and see problems and flaws as hindrances. We waste all our time trying to fix the flaws or waiting for them to magically fade. You may be thinking, "when we buy a mansion, then I will finally be content with him" or "when she loses all her baby weight, then we can get back to how we were while we were dating." While you're waiting for the perfect time, you are losing precious love, to grow, to learn each other, and ultimately to be happy.

So, find the beauty in your partner's flaws. Love them away and you'll find that you'll use your reality to transform your marriage into something stronger. This means erasing all the urges to judge or to fix, and embracing your spouse, as is. It is only in truly accepting a person as they come, flaws and all, that you truly "love".

There will be annoying behaviors, petty fights and hiccups....because remember, there is no such thing as a perfect marriage. When your mindset changes, the difference becomes that those annoying behaviors, petty fights and hiccups stop being nails in the coffin where your marriage could be buried, but the foundation upon which you create a lifelong romance. Like one of my mentors always says, "There is a certain beauty that comes with learning to tolerate, appreciate and celebrate your loved one's seems counterintuitive but it births a marriage strong enough to face anything."
So, please stop with the #couplegoals , #relationshipgoals and #perfectthisorthat. That only makes you shift focus from your blessings to baseless fantasy.  Your marriage may not be perfect but it's yours...yours to work on, yours to enjoy, and yours to love.

If you just read this, regardless of where you are or how pissed you are at your spouse, I challenge you to text him/her and say, "It doesn't matter what happened yesterday. I choose to love you today."

As we all know, this doesn't come easy. On my next post,  let's discuss practical steps/tips.....

Stay Inspired.....
NwaVic||| |||Instagram @dearnwavic  ||| Twitter @nwavicesq

Thursday, July 13, 2017

7 Ways to Honor Your Parents as an Adult

Hey People!

I hope everyone is having a good week. It's kindda sorta almost the weekend! I'm so happy it's summertime. You know how much I love the heat....Now, all that's missing is beach and sand :)

Last week, my post Honor Your Parents Live Long discussed just how much God wants us to honor our parents ALL the days of our lives. Now that we know that it's a LOUD commandment with several rewards and punishments attached to it, the next step is to discuss the practical ways to show this "honor".  Although there are circumstances where honoring parents may seem almost impossible (for e.g. they are abusive, they abandoned you, they wounded you, they berate you, they don't like your spouse without good reason, etc.), we are mandated to honor them and as a commandment, we have to comply. As we discussed last week, the Scripture is very clear that the way we treat our parents has significant ramifications, both for our physical life and our spiritual life.

In March, I volunteered to help older people draft and execute their wills and estate planning documents. I met a lovely woman. Let's call her Mrs. S.  She was about 80 years old. We got to talking and she told me she had 5 children and only 3 check on her. Her very first daughter moved out at 21, is now a big company executive, lives 3 hours away and only visits once every 2 years. This daughter did not tell her when she got married and just sent her a postcard with a wedding picture. You could tell how much it hurt Mrs. S just to talk about it, because she felt she had become "below" her daughter. 

As a child of faith, your parents deserve your honor.  When you were young, you depended on your parents to be strong. Now, you're a strong, independent and successful adult, it's time to let them depend on you for strength in their old age. It's time to assure them by your words AND actions, that you will not forsake them and that it is not only your responsibility but your joy to care for them.

When was the last time you thought about the sacrifices your parents made to ensure you have a better life? Your mother may be overbearing but have you thought about how much she gave up just to ensure you had a parent easily accessible? So, how do you think she feels when you move miles away and never call or visit? Your father may appear hardened and difficult to talk to, but have you taken a moment to sit with him and get to really know him and the experiences that shaped his character? 

So, in today's crazy world with 40-hour work weeks that turn into 80 hour drags, here's how to "practically" appreciate your parents in your everyday life.

1.  Pray for them

Getting older can be emotionally- tasking. So, whenever you think about your parents, say a prayer. Ask God to give them strength, good health, longevity and most of all, because this doesn't always come easy, to give you the grace, wisdom, fortitude and provision to "honor" them.

No matter how "terrible" your parents were or are, there's nothing God can't do. No curse God can't break. No relationship God can't fix. No heart God can't change. God knows your parents better than they know themselves. Commit them to God is the first step. He will lead you to Honor.

2.  Spend time with them

Many parents speak the love language of "Quality Time". Nothing makes them happier than to be with you. It may mean taking a weekend just to sit and chat with your mother. NO matter how grown you are, your parents will always picture those times when you were so dependent on them, you couldn't go to the potty alone and while they understand you are now married with kids of your own, sometimes they just want to feel like you still value them. So, make that trip just to chat. If you're in their city for a wedding or a meeting, extend your trip for one more day just to stop by and spend the day with them.

Time with your parents is invaluable even for you because long after they are gone, it is those memories that remain with you.  No matter how much of a big shot you are now, you still have their blood in your veins- a gift from God that you must cultivate.

Oh, and most importantly, when you're with them, be on their own schedule, not yours. Oh, I can tell you endless stories about my mom. She likes to go to events and stay for hours on end. Even though she can drive, she enjoys when my siblings or I drive her to the event and just sit with her.  It makes her happy, so we take turns doing it. 

I'm sure a lot of you can relate to when your mom casually asks you to accompany her to the grocery store. She will promise you it will take five minutes to pick up chicken, but in reality, you will not only leave the store two hours later with 30 bags of groceries, she will need to stop by 3 other stores because the first one did not have the right type of "Okporoko" fish that will make all the difference in the soup she wants to cook.  Sometimes, when I go with my mom on "errands", it's an entire day's business, so I just get ready for it. At the end of the day, that "soup" is lit though :-)

When you can't travel to visit your parents, call just to say hi. If you tend to forget, set it in your weekly calendar the same you would an "important business call". Better still, make it a weekly conference call. Make it a habit, they will start to look forward to your call.  Call, ask how they are doing, how their day went and if there's anything they need. Don't forget to end your call with "I love you."  One of my friends calls his mom unfailingly every Sunday at 6 p.m.  and he says it gives him the good mojo he needs to start his new week.

3. Be generous to them

Parents for my generation are typically between 55 and 70 years old. They are aging and slowing down. Most of them are retired. Some of them are getting ill or passing on. 

So, next time you go to Louis Vuitton and buy a purse just to show off on Instagram, buy your mom one.  Like the Igbos say, "Oburo ma nwa, onye g'enye"...meaning "If not for my child, who will give me?" If they still have a mortgage or credit card debt, and you can afford it, once in a while, take a bill and pay it. 
It means more to spend money on your parents while they are alive, than on their funeral.
If you're blessed and both your parents are still living, and you can afford it, send them on a vacation together. Even if you can't afford it by yourself, if you have siblings, a little contribution from everyone can go a long way. I never had this opportunity because my dad passed when I was 14 years old. Last year, my husband and I had planned to do something similar for his parents. Unfortunately, my father-in-law died suddenly before we could set it in motion. If you can, do it today. Life is short. Enough said.

4. Listen and respect their opinions.

We know you are now alll grown, intelligent and successful. However, remember that before then you were your parents' little boy/girl. In Igboland, there is a saying that an elder can see something ahead while sitting, that YOU cannot see even if you stood on a chair or ladder. They have invaluable wisdom that may not be immediately apparent to you. There's so much to learn from our parents' actions to avoid maintaining a cycle of mistakes. When I am confused, I take it to my mom. Most times, she's faced a similar issue and knows how to best deal with it.  There is a clarity that she gives to every situation that I cannot get anywhere else.

At the same time, sometimes, parents give opinions that make you want to tear your hair out and scream "That is just sooo ridiculous!". When that happens, take a deep breath and nod. Regardless of how much you disagree with their opinions, never be disrespectful in your words, actions, thoughts, or manners towards them. The trick is to say, "Okay, I understand, I'll think about it...thank you so much".

5. Express your appreciation now.

What do you appreciate the most about your parents? When last did you express that to them? For me, I appreciate that my mom is such a strong woman. I appreciate that she showed me that it is possible to be cutthroat successful in your career and still be a loving wife/mother. Because of her, I know I do not have to choose between my career and having a family. I can actually balance my life. And whenever I get a chance, I tell her the value she has brought and continues to bring to my life. Just last week, I mailed her a handwritten letter and she said it made her day :-) 

For my dad, he was such a hardworking loving man who believed that being good to people was more important than money or flash. No matter how wealthy he was, he was never proud or arrogant. I wish I could tell him that in person today. 

We all know people who put up "Best mom in the world" Instagram posts (that their parents probably never see) but never actually call their parents or do anything else to honor them.  If your parents are still alive, take a step beyond that, call or write to say what you admire about them and how much you appreciate that you have them to call mom or dad or how much you appreciate all their hard work and love.

6. Forgive them

There is no such thing as a perfect parent. It is often joked about every African parent tells their child they graduated top of their class. The question now becomes, if everyone graduated top of their class, who came 2nd, 3rd or last in the class??? It cracks me up everytime because this is not only a joke, it is reality. Parents want to look perfect to their children and sometimes this makes them prideful to ever admit their mistakes. The reality is they are imperfect, just like us.

They may have said hurtful things, had unrealistic expectations of you, or done things that left you damaged. Regardless of what your parent's sins are....forgive. It saves you from retaining anger and bitterness in your life. While I understand this is easier said than done, I urge you at least to take the first step towards forgiveness - ask God for His help.

Forgiveness is defined by Merriam Webster as, " to give up resentment of or claim to requital or to cease to feel resentment against (an offender)"

I also have to add that if your situation is such that your parents keep on hurting you, I am not asking you to forgive and leave us vulnerable to continuous hurt. Forgive because if you're a believer, you know forgiveness only comes from God.

7. Stop complaining about them.

Lastly, stop complaining to everyone who cares to listen just how ridiculous your parents were to you or how much of your time they are taking. Sometimes, our parents due to illness or life circumstances beyond their control, will need to depend on us more than they wish to. Majority of the time, if it was up to them, they don't want to be a burden to you. Be kind. Be selfless. and do it with a smile on your face.

Ultimately, our parents want to know we are in their corner....that we care enough to humor them sometimes, to laugh at their jokes when it's not funny, to spend a Sunday with them even if we'd rather be watching Netflix or to accompany them to their old friend's daughter's wedding when we will rather be with our friends. 

Do it for love. Do it for God's glory. Do it to live long. Most of all, do it because these humans "birthed" you. 

Thank you for reading, but what are you still doing here? Call your parent(s) now!

Stay Inspired.....
NwaVic||| |||Instagram @dearnwavic  ||| Twitter @nwavicesq

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Bible Speaks: Honor Your Parents....Live Long

Hey Everyone,

Hope you had a blessed 4th of July! I spent most of mine in bed binging of TV shows...I know I owe you an updated list of TV show recommendations. I promise it's coming soon :-)

Yesterday, I took a break from Netflix and Hulu to make a quick trip to the outlet mall. I needed to exchange a pair of jeans I bought for my mom for a better size.  As is expected on 4th of July weekend, it was sooo crowded.  I was just focused on accomplishing my exchange mission, and controlling my eyes and urge to shop for myself. I had just passed a rack of shoes when I noticed am older lady sitting on the bench struggling to try on a pair of loafers. She had to be at least 70 years old and was moving very slowly.  A few shoe racks from her was a young lady - seemed to be in her mid-twenties. The young lady quickly tried on a pair of stilettos, dumped it in her shopping bag, and picked up her phone. While scrolling through what seemed to be snapchat, she paused and took a selfie. My eyes then diverted back to the older lady. She was struggling to stand up and walk in the shoes to test it out. She subtly smiled and seemed happy with the shoes. Just then, the young lady turned to her, rolled her eyes, and in what sounded more like a grunt than words said, "hurry up Mom! urghhh!" She then turned and heading towards the counter in frustration, yelled, "We need to go! You're always slowing me down. Next time I come here, it'll be by myself!!" The old lady's smile disappeared. She sighed, put the shoes down and slowly followed behind her daughter, leaving the shoe behind and probably any and all excitement that came with trying those shoes on.

It really saddens me to see adults maltreat, misspeak or ignore their parents.  Our parents are not perfect. They are only human.  At one point or the other, they may have failed us, hurt us, abandoned us, or simply not lived up to the expectations we have of them, but then they are still and will always be the persons God entrusted us to.

Honoring your parents is so important to God, and we know this because the Bible does not only command it, it is filled with promises of bountiful rewards.

So, as a Christian, let's just say for whatever reason you don't feel like your parents deserve your honor or respect, despite the fact that your mother carried you for nine months and went through labor, OR that your father worked two jobs just to pay your school fees, OR that your parents put your need for school supplies above their own need to go on vacation, do IT because it is the Fifth commandment from God.

Next time your phone rings and it's your mom/dad and they are interrupting your night out with your friends or your binge of Game of Thrones, think about these verses and be reminded that your faith requires you to love, honor and obey your parents.
Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.                   ~ Exodus 20:12
Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.   ~  Colossians 3:20
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.       ~    Hebrews 13:7 
If one curses his father or his mother, his lamp will be put out in utter darkness.                ~   Proverbs 20: 20
Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”       ~ Ephesians 6: 2-3
Hear, my son, your father's instruction, and forsake not your mother's teaching.                ~ Proverbs 1:8
    Cursed is anyone who dishonors their father or mother. ~ Deuteronomy 5:16
Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.        ~     Deuteronomy 5:16
Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father, and you shall keep my Sabbaths: I am the Lord your God.        ~    Leviticus 19:3
The Bible also discusses the brutal consequences of cursing one's parents in Exodus 21:17 and Proverbs 30:17. Also, in various places, Jesus describes disobedience to parents as a character trait unbecoming of a true Christian, similar to backbiting, hating God and boasting. Don't take my word for it- check out 2 Timothy 2-3 and Romans 1:30.

I hope these Bible verses inspire you today to love, value and appreciate the channel through which God gave you life. Remember, they won't be here forever.

Next week, let's talk about the practical side- HOW we can honor our parents on the daily.
Stay Inspired.....
NwaVic||| |||Instagram @dearnwavic  ||| Twitter @nwavicesq