“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord not for men.” Colossians 3:23
Rachel and Jake,
For the past few years I have written to you here, here, and here with a variety of relationship advice for you to use in your everyday life. Your Mama’s “pearls of wisdom,” as I like to call them, are not meant for mastery but more for your own reflection. These little pieces of advice that I give are things that I am working on myself in my relationships and are in no way anything that I have mastered or do day in and day out. Simply put, each year when your father’s and my anniversary rolls around, I reflect on what I have learned over the last year or what stuck out as the most pressing piece of advice I want to share with you.
When the time comes for you to get married, my hope is that you’ll be able to see what it takes to make a marriage last for a lifetime. Your father and I have committed to the vows we made before God to love, honor and cherish each other as long as we live. It’s a large scale promise that can only be fulfilled by purposely choosing how we make up those day-to-day moments that create a lifetime of loving each other. What do those moments look like? Well, sweet little ones, that’s what I hope these posts will help you understand.
So, here it is, relationship advice number nine. It might sound a bit odd, but just bear with me here: get a hobby. Yes, that’s right, a hobby. The key to happiness does not rely on relationships alone. You need to be able to find things that make you feel happy and content and confident in yourself because as you will find in your life, and I’m sorry to say this, but people and relationships will sometimes disappoint you. You need to be able to find satisfaction and fulfillment outside of relationships so that when the chips are down you can still have something that brings happiness into your life. On the flip side of that, your hobby will allow you to share your joy with others and many times will bring new and varied relationships in to your life. God has given you specific interests and skill sets for a reason–it is up to you to develop and explore the natural talents He has given you!
Relationship Advice #9: Get a hobby. It could even be something that doesn’t have to involve the other person at first, if you want. “How does that work?,” you might wonder. Or “What does that have to do with anything?” Well, that’s the beauty of this blog, just let me tell you…
According to the researchers at the School of Medicine at Temple University, engaging in a hobby awakens the area of the brain that produces positive feelings and reduces stress. Doing a particular task that you enjoy can enhance your ability to concentrate and encourages self-motivation and increases self-confidence. All of these can have a profound impact on your relationship with those around you.
Over the past few years your father and I have developed several hobbies. Some we share with each other, and some we do completely on our own. Having a hobby that we can share together is a fun way to connect with each other, especially during these years when most of our conversation centers around you. For example, in the past year or so your Dad and I have started exploring craft beers together. We enjoy trying new beers together and finding beers for each other that we think we might like. Sometimes we are surprised at how well we know the other person’s taste!
After you are in bed for the night, sometimes we will try a new beer together while we talk about the day or anything else that might be on our mind. It’s a way for us to purposefully make an effort to connect with each other. Recently your Dad has even started learning how to brew his own beer with a friend. I fully support that endeavor and enjoy reaping the benefits of it as well!
Photography has been a bit of an outlet for me lately. I enjoy taking pictures and have been blessed to be able to share some of the joy that you, my children, bring me through sharing my photos with others. I have been humbled that other people have chosen me to take their family photos and am loving some of the experiences and doors that photography has opened up for me. It was completely unexpected, but it was an outlet your father (and some really great friends) encouraged me to explore!
It’s no secret that your Dad has always been in to cars and Corvettes especially. When we first started dating I thought “Go to a car show? Really??” Sometimes your friend or spouse might have a hobby that you are “just not that into.” And that’s ok! But, please try to like it for that other person. There is always something that can be gained from new experiences. Something that brings joy to your friend or partner can in some way bring joy to you too. Even if it’s just spending time together or having something that you do together to support each other–it’s important!
Who knows, some day you may like it and end up taking your kids there and posing them beside sweet Corvettes that you never really appreciated before your relationship began. You might realize that it’s really not that bad, after all. And when you find yourself saying “Hey, want to take the Corvette out and take pictures of it on some crazy back road I found?” you’ll realize that your two worlds have collided in the best way possible and then you’ll realize that the things that you thought were weird in your younger years really aren’t that bad after all. Because in the end, my little ones, it’s all about supporting each other and bringing parts of yourself into a relationship.
Trying something new can be a good thing when you look at it as an adventure or as a way to learn about new things. In fact, we should welcome change and new opportunity into our lives because it helps evolve who we are as a person. Our lives weren’t meant to be stagnant. You will grow and change throughout your lifetime and you want to be sure that you surround yourself with people who are going to encourage you and support your interests too.
If you want someone who is going to support you, then you need to be willing to do that for them, as well. Being a good friend requires having a willingness to grow and bond over new experiences. After all, no two people are ever exactly the same. Everyone comes in to a relationship with their own set of experiences and beliefs that can impact the way they view certain situations. Celebrate those differences, encourage others to pursue what makes them happy and enjoy the ride as they find their place in this world.
I’ll leave you with one final thought, which happens to be an excerpt from an exceptional author. Read these words and try to let them really sink in. It took me a long time before I finally got the gist of what he meant.
Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread, but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are along though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow. ~ Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
I love you more than you will ever know. To the moon and back.
ps. Happy 9th Anniversary, Tim! Thank you for always supporting me and encouraging me and for helping me find my hobby!