A Different Perspective

The other day I watched clips of an interview of Pastor John Gray where he sat down with the women of Sister Circle. He adorned his First lady, in her absence, with beautiful words about how she is the reason he is the man he is today. He referred to his wife as a “coat” because she was his covering during the rough times of their union. He used the metaphor that she is “two sizes bigger than him, and he is still trying to grow into her.”

My wife has endured more pain birthing me than both of our children. She has sacrificed these last eight years uncovering the painful areas of my manhood and covering the areas that could have exposed me. She deserves anything I can give her… I’m going to live the rest of my life to honor her because she gave me what I couldn’t give myself, which was a chance to heal while still seeing the God in me. “

In the comment section, there were many women who received his message with passion and loved the point he made about his wife being a “covering” and not a “lid” where she would “cap” him. Others weren’t so amused and found it offensive. From what I’ve concluded, many of the opposers felt like Pastor Gray’s statements boasted a message of measuring a woman’s worth by the amount of pain she endures. One man’s response questioned how did Pastor Gray’s wife turn out after having to go through those same eight years of struggle? He wondered what affect her sacrifice had on their children. Another woman expressed her feelings of being fed up with women sticking it out with men who expect their wives to do the things their mothers should have done… raise them. 

While I respect the opinions of those commentators, I absolutely disagree. As a wife and Christian, I disagree with those perspectives. I think those points stand strong when a couple isn’t married, but things change once you exchange those vows. You are standing in front of one another in the presence of the Lord vowing to love one another and build one another up during each high moment and every single low moment. With the right person, your commitment is solidified when you get married. A long-term relationship is not the same. 

For most, divorce is not an option and has been taken off the table. So, because one runs into trouble that doesn’t clear up in a few months or even a few years does not determine their need to leave. Now of course, if your life or your children’s lives are in imminent danger, YOU MUST GO. No ifs, ands or buts. 

In my opinion, many people viewed the clips with the expectation that he should have grown up before he decided to marry. Yes; it is clear that one should be mature and ready for marriage, but let’s go a little deeper. As adults, we do our very best to confront any issues or areas of our lives that need healing and growth, but how does one know how to remedy something they never knew they had a problem with? When you’re married, some seasons force you to deal with different aspects of your life (I.e. childhood) that you never knew would cause you trouble later in your life. You can be well put together and then an argument triggers a childhood trauma. It wasn’t an issue in the beginning, but now it is. Do you leave? Do you leave the person that you vowed to love through sickness and health because it took them longer than a year to deal with an underlying issue that took 12 years to create?

In marriage, you are commanded to be your spouse’s strength and helpmate. There are moments when one is up, and the other is down, when both are down and when both are up. If your foundation is sturdy and rooted in the right things, you’ll both be able to cover each other where needed. Those 8 years of sacrifice for Pastor Gray and his wife could have been him choosing to quit his job to pursue being a pastor full-time, leaving the financial burden on his wife. Let’s assume things turned sour in the mist of this because he felt like less of a man because he wasn’t providing for his family. His attitude was poor, and it was a rollercoaster every day for his wife. Life happens. Bad times happen. Look at what position they are in now! They are financially secure, and from the outside looking in, their marriage is stronger than ever. Should she have left? If they weren’t married, sure! 8 years is a long time to figure things out with someone who isn’t your husband or wife.

What I saw in those clips was a man acknowledge that he wasn’t always the man he is today. That he wasn’t always the husband he is today. That it took him longer than he wanted to get it right, but he eventually did, and his wife stayed by his side while he got it together. When he said she endured more pain with him than birthing their children, I imagine it was because the pain it took for her to birth their children was quicker than it took for him to get his life together! If there is no abuse, that’s what a wife AND a husband is supposed to do! You’re supposed to go through rough seasons in order to grow through those seasons. There is no time frame on trials and tribulations. 

Imagine if the shoe were on the other foot. Is it ok for a husband to leave his wife because of the toll her postpartum depression took on their marriage. Let’s say postpartum depression then took a turn and triggered anxiety issues and more within her, so now she’s not the same as she was when he first married her. It takes her more than a year to feel normal again. Should he leave? No? It’s not okay for him to leave her in a vulnerable state and in a rough patch of their marriage, right?

Those opposing individuals are right. As a girlfriend, it’s not necessary to be someone’s “ride or die chick” for eight years. However, as a wife, it is extremely necessary to be your husband’s lifelong partner and confidant. The one who helps build him up during times of weakness. The same goes for husbands. Marriage requires 100% on both ends. You both have to give 100% of your love and effort. Every day, every month, every year, we grow as individuals. That doesn’t stop when you become married. You continue to learn about your spouse every day for the rest of your life. 

Pastor Gray showed people that marriage isn’t a walk in the park. Sometimes you’re on cloud 9, others you’re ready to call it quits. He also showed gratitude. He vowed to make it up to his wife by serving her the best way he could for the rest of their lives. I challenge you to change your perspective when it comes to marriage. Have high standards but try lowering those expectations. We’re all human and need a little grace. 

Am I Smart Enough to Homeschool My Child?

Earlier this year, my husband and I became more serious about moving to another state. The cost of living is way too expensive where we live, and my husband’s trucking career has grown to be a pain while living here. We couldn’t find a suitable parking space for his truck without having to pay a fee each night, get a parking citation, get towed, drive an hour and a half to and from a good truck stop, or settle for having his truck vandalized/broken into. I work from home, so the move wouldn’t hinder me. However; my fear of putting my child in a new school system grew.

I’m a planner. I am not the kind of person who moves away from my comfort zone, and then figure out where my child will attend school. I go crazy with my research and then like to visit the school(s) being considered. That process is super hard when you are considering multiple places to move to. It also becomes super expensive to travel and visit the school(s) in consideration. I began to feel like my apprehension about where our daughter would attend school was holding us back from being able to take the huge step of moving and getting a fresh start. That’s when the option of homeschooling came to mind.

Homeschooling wasn’t an option before because I knew nothing about it. The closest I came to being homeschooled was when I was out of school for a few months in elementary school with two broken wrists (fell off the monkey bars). I couldn’t remember meeting anyone who’d ever been homeschooled until I thought hard about it and remembered my husband was actually homeschooled for a short period of time. When I brought homeschooling up as an option, he immediately jumped on board. What was once an idea, became our reality.

I considered backing out a few times for different reasons. One being I didn’t understand how my daughter(s) would have social encounters with children their age. After more research, that thought was wiped out. Secondly, I didn’t know if I could handle being around my daughter 24/7. Read my post I love my daughter but… to see why. Lastly, and most recently, I wondered if I was smart enough to educate my daughter.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m confident that I am an intelligent woman. When I was in school, I maintained well above a 3.0 gpa, was on the honor roll nonstop, received countless awards, was a member of the National Honor Society, graduated from Penn State University with a major and minor (finished 7 months pregnant) and more. I excel when it comes to education overall, but when it comes to certain subjects, I struggle. I began to think about all of the subjects I’m great at, the ones that I can be great at, and those that I suck at. The biggest pain being math. Math never came easy to me, but once I understood it I was good to go. In school, I was able to get an A on an English exam that required me to write a one-page essay on a book I hadn’t read by simply looking at the way the question was formed. I graduated with a degree in print journalism and am the owner of my own editing and proofreading business (Queen Scribe Editing & Consulting). Math on the other hand— it intimidates me. My husband is the opposite of me and can calculate problems in his mind within seconds. Our oldest daughter shows signs of being advanced in both reading and math. Uggh. Numbers can be so intimidating.

The thought of my daughter surpassing my math skills frightened me. How would I teach her if she moved faster than I did? How would I teach her math courses that I’ve never learned? Statisitcs? Calculus? Would I have to enroll her back in school? Would my husband be able to teacher from the inside of his truck 1,000 miles away? I brought my insecurities to him and a solution I came up with. When we move on to math courses I know nothing about, I will purchase the math curriculum for it. This year I researched what the core curriculum was for reading and math, and created my own curriculum based on that information. I knew that there were workbooks and free online resources that I could use to help me. When math becomes a struggle, I’ll just purchase a curriculum.

If you’ve been following my blog, then you know my husband whipped me into shape QUICK! He empathized with me. He understood my concern. He disagreed with me though. He said, “Use that as your motivation to learn as she learns.” He continued, “You don’t know everything there is to know about science, but you’ll still be able to teach her, right?” He was right. I don’t know much about lizards, but it’s one of the animals we’ll be learning about. It’s a little overwhelming, but that’s where the excitement of homeschooling comes in. Not only do I get to teach my daughter, but we will have many opportunities to learn together. There will also be moments where she will be able to teach me something. That doesn’t mean I’m inadequate and unable to educate my daughter.

My husband reminded me that our child is the smart little girl she is today because of me. He said, “Yes, I help out a great deal when it comes to our children, but you do the bulk of the work.” He continued,

“You taught our daughter before she entered daycare and the school system. At the age of one our daughter knew her ABC’s, numbers through 10, sign language, shapes, colors, and spoke using small sentences. You did that, not me!”

I love him so much. He reminded me that I didn’t know American Sign Language when I taught our daughter. I taught myself, and would teach her afterwards. I was also reminded that with the right support system, homeschooling my children will be a success. Yes; there will be times when my daughter and I bump heads. Yes; there will be moments where I have to take a course or two and have late nights studying a subject before teaching my daughter. This is the road I have chosen, and I don’t see myself turning back. I am smart enough to homeschool my child.

I reached out to my friend who is a mathematics genius, educator and business owner. Cherre Jefferson holds a degree in Mathematics from Morgan State University. She is the owner of Self Is S.T.E.A.M. where she provides math tutoring (group and individual), math curriculum consulting and customized math lesson plans. She’s also a math teacher in the Baltimore public school system. When I reached out, she delivered. During our meeting, she actually gave me a mini tutoring session to help me with ways to teach the different math courses. I left feeling confident and with a game plan. Her rates are excellent, and her knowledge is outstanding. Please follow her Instagram page @self_is_s.t.e.a.m._ and visit her booking site at selfissteam.setmore.com/.

Gurley Academy officially begins September 10, 2018!! Pray for us.

Standards vs. Expectations

After days of scrolling through social media, I HAD to blog about my experience and thoughts on a few posts. They all had a similar tone. If your girl or man don’t (fill in the blank), you can’t marry them. Here’s the most recent post that sent me running to my blog. “If yo mama cooking and she don’t go in there to help you can’t marry her.” Of course there were thousands of responses, but you know I had to go to my husband to see what his thoughts were. His response (not verbatim), “The fact that he associates a woman in the kitchen being wife material is a problem to me.” He totally stans for women and I adore him for it!

As we dove deeper into conversation, I began to think about the difference between having standards versus expectations. We both agreed that there is a difference between the two, and find it to be one of the leading causes to men and women missing out on a good woman or man.

In my opinion, standard is the measure of the quality or value of someone. It’s the determining factor in whether you decide to pursue someone or allow them to pursue you. Expectation is what you believe someone should be or will do. If one does not meet your expectation, you may be disappointed, but not completely turned off.

Here’s a snippet of what my standards looked like:

  1. He can’t smoke cigarettes.
  2. He has to believe in the same God as me.
  3. He has to have good hygiene.
  4. He has to be taller than me.
  5. He has to be able to hold an intelligent conversation.

AND MORE!

Here’s a list of what my expectations looked like:

  1. He must be able to cook like my father.
  2. He must be great with his hands (plumbing, mechanic, building, DIY).
  3. He must have a nice haircut. (Preferably like Morris Chestnut in The Best Man)
  4. He must be a football player.
  5. He has to be bigger than me. (Gotta be ready for this jelly)

AND MORE!

I wouldn’t budge with my standards, but my expectations were things I could soften up on. Maybe he’s not the best cook, but he’s responsible with his money. Okay, so he’s not that great at fixing things around the house, but he’s willing to learn. I love haircuts, but men with curls and locs are just as handsome. He may not be a football player, but he’s healthy and athletic. There’s a rebuttal for them all.

In the post earlier, I immediately thought “what if his girl didn’t know how to cook, but planned on helping her set the table and clean up?” Is she still not capable of being a wife? Maybe she’s not confident in her cooking skills, but is willing to take lessons? What if her mother never allowed her in the kitchen growing up, so she doesn’t even think about helping out in the kitchen? There are so many factors. I believe it is when we set high expectations in individuals that we become severely disappointed. Humans disappoint all the time! We’re not perfect. That’s why we have to simply view our expectations as a hope, but not a determining factor.

For example, a woman who is pregnant is not told that she will have her baby on a specific date. She is given an estimated due date. A date that she can expect to have her child(ren) on, before or after. When a business has a job listing posted, they list skills that are required and skills that are preferred but not required. That means that if one does not possess the preferred skills, the business will not turn them away. They simply hope that the candidate will have them. In my experience, the employer will say something like, “skills are preferred or candidate must be willing to obtain training.” What if we applied that in our relationships? I prefer my girlfriend to be able to cook, but if she’s not able to in the beginning, she must be willing to learn. That is actually a mix of expectation and standard. It allows each individual involved to be honest and determine which direction they will go in.

Now, as usual these are my thoughts and opinions. Some of my standards may sound like expectations to others and vice versa. All in all, I think we as people need to know the difference between standards and expectations, and make sure that we are putting emphasis on the more important one. I believe that expectations can be discussed with one another, while standards cannot. We also tend to set high expectations but take offense when we do not meet another’s expectations. “My man has to make sure that my hair, nails and toenails are always done,” but you can’t even take the car to a drive-thru car wash. Honestly, sometimes our standards are a bit extreme too. “My man has to make more than me, and I make $70,000 per year.” Okay, so this woman marries a man who makes $115,000 per year, but he loses his job because the company goes bankrupt. What next? Do you divorce him?

This post is not to persuade anyone to lower their standards. However, I am definitely one who says, lighten up on your expectations of humans and shift them toward the Lord (or whoever you believe in).