As we recently shared the first Sisters and Friends episode of the year, I figured it was only fitting to share it with you here on the blog! My mom and I sat down to talk about all things relationships, community and marriage. Here’s how it went!
I wanted to talk to mom about the things that she walked through and learned in her college years because I know many of you are college students navigating that season of life. But even if you’re not a college student, we unpack so much more in this episode to tune in for.
First off, we dove into discussing mom’s relationship with my dad. They began dating at a young age and quickly decided they were going to get married. However, right before they took the next step, they broke up and soon after, mom went off to college. Mom went into college with a lot going on, such as the breakup, a new city, meeting new people, etc. So, I asked Mom to describe what that was like as she began a new journey with all those emotions.
Mom mentioned how crazy it is that it’s been 32 years since she and my dad began dating. She was 17 years old at the time and they both instantly knew they were in it for the long haul. They’d been in youth group together and had basically grown up together since third or fourth grade. Because of this, marriage was talked about within the first couple months of their relationship. They decided to get married the following summer, and when they mentioned it to Mom’s parents, it was clear that they didn’t see it as the best idea. After all, Mom and Dad had no plan and no money. They were genuinely living on love. Plus, mom DID have a scholarship for college to Harding University, where her parents had gone. So, her parents had a point. Looking back, mom sees the wisdom in the things they were saying. But at the time it was really difficult. At the end of that summer, mom chose to go to college. Well, Dad had decided that if Mom went, they were going to break up. So, they did, and mom was devastated. She cried all the way to Harding and one of her friends came and stayed with her in her dorm for a few days to console her.
I love that her friend came and stayed with her because in those moments it is so important to bring community in. And often those are the times that we push community out because we don’t want anyone to see us in a vulnerable state. Mom talked about how vital it was for her to have someone she could truly open up to during that time and help her through a season of major transition.
I asked Mom to talk about the process of her and Dad getting back together. She said that two weeks after the breakup, Dad called her dorm room and said he’d had a change of heart and that maybe long distance wouldn’t be so bad after all. He basically poured out his heart saying he wanted to get back together. Mom said it was a really great regrouping time for them as a couple for her to say “I love you, but there are things that need to change in our relationship.” She used that to encourage anyone who might be in a similar situation. She mentioned that it’s not always the answer to breakup. Sometimes it takes just sitting back and admitting there are some things that just need to be restructured. Well, Mom and Dad ended up getting back together, but Mom did let Dad sit in it for about an hour before she gave a final answer to him.
The truth is, you need people like Mom’s friend who you can confide in, knowing that they love you and your partner equally and want what’s best for both of you. You need friends who will trust you enough to believe that your partner is a good person, and it might just be a bad moment.
A couple months ago, Christian and I were walking through a really difficult time. A lot had been going on and it was just chaotic. We needed to get back on track, so I suggested that we start taking communion in our house. Well, at the time, we’d been ignoring and not wanting to address many of the things we were walking through. So, our first communion in our house was when everything we had been feeling came out. It was certainly a hard conversation, but I find it beautiful that when we came to Jesus, truth came out. Although it wasn’t necessarily pretty, it’s what needed to happen. I love that because this scripture speaks to the situation so well:
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” (Matthew 18:15)
Next, we dove into the topic of roommates. Mom’s freshman year of college, she had a roommate she’d never met before, which is extremely common. Many people either move into an apartment or college dorm with someone they’ve never met. Sometimes it clicks and it works, but sometimes it’s difficult. Eventually, mom became really close with her roommate, even though they were a lot different. She actually ended up being a bridesmaid in Mom’s wedding. I asked Mom to talk a bit about what that was like. She only had one semester with a roommate before she married my dad. But she said even that one semester helped her so much because when my brother Will went to college, he’d been planning to room with one of his friends for years. Initially, when he found out he was going to have a third roommate, he was not thrilled. But mom was able to share her experience with him encouraging him to have a positive mindset about the situation! Mom reminded us that in situations like these, you have to trust that through others, God is going to teach you something. Oftentimes, people try to get out of these situations before God has time to work in them. Mom encouraged everyone to give it a full year in college for God to do something, whether it be the roommate, the major, or whatever else you may be having difficulties with. And then if you still don’t think you’re where you need to be, make a move.
You have to give it time for your roots to grow. When I was little, I would take apple seeds and plant them outside my house. But I never marked where they were, so I could never properly water them. I think about how I was throwing seeds in all different places, and I gave none of them time to nurture and grow. I think a lot of us do that. We are unwilling to stay in one place and water that soil and see what beauty grows from it. Because we get frustrated by the process, we just go to the next place and plant new seeds. But you’ll never get the tree unless you stay and water that ground. There’s a process to growing where you’re at. There’s a process to community. There’s a process for most things. Mom talked about how difficult it was when my sister Rebecca moved here from Taiwan. Her first semester was incredibly difficult because she had broken English, wasn’t making friends easily, and was struggling to stay in contact with her family because of the time difference. If she’d been given the option after the first semester, she probably would’ve chosen to go home. But the second semester rolled around and she was thriving. She was making friends, going to prom, and having a great experience. Now, she’s been here for 16+ years and is married with two kids!
Back to the roommate situation, I wanted to mention that not everyone is going to be your best friend. This is something I’ve had to learn as I’ve gotten older. Some people might be a great friend. You can still laugh and have fun with them, and even cry with them. But they don’t necessarily have be your best friend. And then some people will be your best friend, and often when that happens, it just comes naturally. For instance, my friend Laney will always be one of my best friends, and it came naturally. All of this to say, you don’t have to put pressure on any of your friendships to be your very best one. You have to be content and confident in the relationship you do have with your friend.
I wanted to circle back around to my mom and dad’s relationship. Once they got back together, they got married the following January. So, by Mom’s second semester in college, she and Dad were married and Dad was beginning his first semester in college. The following summer, they actually went to Hawaii with Mom’s parents as their honeymoon, since they didn’t have much money. Three months into marriage, they still didn’t have a set in stone plan, and they were still broke. I asked mom to give us a picture into what that season looked like, the silly arguments over money, and the types of meals they would eat on a budget. Mom mentioned just how tight their budget was. She and Dad worked at a call center for a while. The people who call and ask you for money — that was my parents. Eating out was not an option, except for the occasional Little Caesar’s pizza for cheap. Monday’s menu was hotdogs with hormel chili. Tuesday’s was fried frozen chicken. She remembered one time when she and Dad were in the grocery store, they had $5 left over from their grocery budget and Dad wanted to buy a pack of baseball cards and she wanted to buy a magazine. It turned into a full out fight over who would get to spend the extra money.
Here’s another example. Some of Mom and Dad’s friends had loaned them a washer and dryer, so they wanted to do something nice in return. They took them to dinner at Shoney’s and it cost $40, which was way out of their budget. Mom said she still remembers the feeling of seeing the check and wondering how they were going to eat for the rest of the week. I love that she mentioned this story, because nowadays I feel like there’s so much pressure on young wives to have it all together. They’re expected to have all the snacks cut in the perfect shape and to be both healthy and perfect. Seeing how perfect other people’s meals can be through social media and other outlets will feel like you’re not doing your role well enough. But sometimes, there are seasons in life when ramen noodles and hotdogs will just have to do. For example, during this season of my life, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a great dinner. Cereal is just fine. Mom pointed out that looking back on the moments she shared, they’re such sweet and fun memories. Take note of all the ways you grow and the things you learn during those times in life.
One thing I love about my parents’ relationship when they were first married is that even though they were broke, they still had fun. It didn’t keep them from being hospitable. Many people think they can’t be fun or hospitable because they don’t have anything or they might not have the “coolest” house. Mom spoke into this topic well. She said the first time they had a couple over in their tiny apartment, she made spaghetti. However, she had no idea how many noodles to make to properly accommodate the amount of spaghetti sauce. So, needless to say, there were plenty of noodles left over. Dad began throwing spaghetti noodles at Mom, which turned into a full on food fight with their friends. There were noodles everywhere, even until they moved out of that apartment. They would have holiday parties at their house and everyone would bring something, which usually consisted of rotel cheese dip and hotdogs. The fact is, people don’t care what your house looks like. They care about being together.
Mom reminded us that we have to be the one to invite people sometimes. So many times we sit around and get sad because people aren’t inviting us places, but it might just be that you need to invite people to do things. Christian and I found ourselves in the place when we first moved back to Louisiana. I was throwing myself a pity party because we weren’t getting invited to a Bible study our friends were having. But then I had an epiphany — Why don’t I start a Bible study. I could be the one to text and invite them over, and now we’re all great friends! Mom chimed in with some good advice. She said that if someone says no when you invite them, don’t take it personally. Invite somebody else!
I wanted to mention that Mom was an Art Major in college. While here and there, she’ll use her artistic ability, for the most part she isn’t really using her degree. I think someone needs to hear that because often in college, you think, “this is it.” You think that if you make a wrong decision, you might miss the call of God on your life. I just want to remind you that you cannot miss it if you’re truly following the Lord. I love what 2mama posted recently. She said that if you’re doing whatever you’re doing for the glory of God, then you’re doing what He called you to do. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself now to think that whatever you decide now will determine the rest of your life. It might shape your life, but it won’t be the end all be all. God has your future and God has your now.
I hope this is all encouraging to you! Here are some questions to think about as we wrap up:
Look at the people around you in your life. How can you steward those friendships well?
How can you use what you have to have fun and to host well?
How can you work towards growing in your relationship, even if that means restructuring things?
Where are you that you actually need to water the ground where you’re standing? Seeds can easily be thrown in the ground, but you need to take some time to be intentional and see growth.