“You Complete Me” or Do You?

The title of this blog post was taken from a quote in the 1996 movie “Jerry Maguire”.  It is in the final scene of the movie when the main character in the movie, Jerry Maguire, played by Tom Cruise, returns to his estranged wife Dorothy, played by Renée Zellweger, and tells her that she completes him.  For all the women readers out there, let’s just breathe a big sigh as we silently think to ourselves, “if only my husband felt that way”.

Wedding ringsI was in my mid-thirties at the time this movie came out and although I was already married for over ten years, I was still naive enough to think that kind of love was possible.  It’s not that that kind of love isn’t really possible.  It’s that we shouldn’t expect our spouses to complete us.  Yet that is the message that we are constantly bombarded with in the entertainment industry.  It is all over our television sets, in the theaters and in the fantasy romance novels that women can get wrapped up in.  In fact, it is fed to our children at an early age in Disney fairy tales as well.  No wonder women expect to live happily ever after when they walk down the aisle on their wedding day.

Complement, Not Complete

We are meant to complement our spouses, not complete them.  We are each to be made whole through our relationship with Christ and partner with our spouses in creating a Godly marriage.  When we expect our husbands to complete us, we are setting ourselves up for huge resentments and unmet expectations.  It is an enormous burden to place on them.  They are only human.  It is enmeshment and co-dependency at its worst.  Without the communication tools to deal with that, we end up living in misery.  I know because I lived in that place for many years.

I’ve been working on my own healing and recovery for the past nine years.  It was in a variety of spiritual and emotional healing classes and reading books like “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend that I first started to realize this and put the pieces together in my life.  It’s been a very painful process to come to terms with my own character defects and emptiness that I had in my heart.  I had to learn to turn to God to fill that hole and connect with other women who, for the most part, had also put their husbands on a pedestal and expected them to meet all of their needs.   It is epidemic in society.  I would venture to guess that unmet expectations are probably one of the leading causes of divorce.  But it doesn’t have to end that way.

There is Hope for Your Marriage

My husband and I just returned from a marriage workshop in California held by New Life Ministries.  New Life is also responsible for airing “New Life Live”, America’s #1 Christian call-in counseling ministry, hosted by Steve Arterburn.  It is a ministry that I whole-heartedly support, list on my website and use as a resource in groups that I lead.New Life Ministries

This weekend did not disappoint as I saw God show up in amazing ways and heard many testimonies of life transformation.  For me, this weekend was a wonderful opportunity to really connect at a deep level—not just with my husband, but with the other couples in our group sessions.  We left refreshed, hopeful for the future and more equipped and willing to bring healing and restoration into our marriage.

I cannot recommend New Life highly enough.  Whether your marriage needs a tune-up or a full-blown resuscitation, I encourage you to contact New Life Ministries at 1-800-NEW-LIFE to get it back on track.  You’ll be glad you did.

Using Our Weaknesses

When I started this month of literary abandon, I was nervous I’d embarrass myself and come nowhere near the 50,000 word count that qualifies a NaNoWriMo participant as a winner.   After 11 days, I’ve definitely given up any expectation of writing 50,000 words.  But I haven’t given up the quest.

I am being immersed daily in my memoir, even if I’m not physically writing it.  My mind is on it. I’m pondering the events of my past.  I’m looking for themes in my life and considering which events make the most sense to tie together.  I’m listening to recorded interviews, researching historical information online and talking to family who can help me fill in the gaps.  It’s been a very interesting and healing process.

Coincidences?

For instance, I don’t think it is a coincidence that I am considering medication for my ADD/ADHD after white-knuckling it for so long.  I never would’ve considered taking medication before the healing of my mother wounds.  It was too frightening to me.  In my mind, it was like admitting I was mentally ill.  The stigma was too great.

Times have changed and medicine has advanced tremendously since the time when my mother was given electro convulsive therapy (shock treatment) for her schizophrenia in the 1960s.  Taking medication doesn’t mean defeat or that I am crazy.  Sometimes it is necessary.  I’m finding out how people with schizophrenia and other mental disorders can lead successful careers and make significant contributions to society.  In fact, I recently heard that Bill Gates, George Bush and Steve Arterburn have ADD.  How’s that for good company?

As I pondered these ‘coincidences’ in my life, I sensed God lay a new memoir title on my heart.  It stems from a post I wrote on the “Journeys to Mother Love” blog a few weeks ago, “Emerging from the Cocoon”.  Since the first day when I saw the butterfly on the draft book cover, I knew it was the perfect picture to symbolize my emotional and spiritual transformation.

When We Are Weak…He Is Strong

I’ve given my testimony many times at Celebrate Recovery meetings and spoke openly about my healing journey.  I’m no stranger to sharing my weaknesses and in fact God’s power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).  However, what brought me to my knees and into recovery over eight years ago had nothing to do with my mother wounds.

I never thought I’d be publicly known or speak about my mother’s mental illness.  My shame was too great around it and my fears of my own sanity lied precariously on the edge at times.  But now, I know God wants to use the pain of my mother’s mental illness to help others turn healing into hope.  My biggest fear in my identity has been removed and is the foundation from which I can openly speak and connect with others.  It is the compassion and sensitivity—the transformation of my heart—that leads me to write and pursue more of His amazing grace.

So it is with that sense of gratitude and awe that I am digging into my memoir this month with a new working title, “Emerging from the Cocoon: One Woman’s Struggle to Overcome a Legacy of Mental Illness”.  I’m embracing this new season of life and the wonders that God continues to reveal to me as I boldly follow Him.

What’s the theme of your life?  Is God calling you to use your weakness for His glory?  I’d love to hear your comments.

Writing: My First Year, Part 4 – Finishing Strong

Almost two months to the day I submitted my manuscript to Cladach Publishing, I received an email that my story was being accepted for publication.  It was the biggest confirmation possible that I really was on the right path with my writing.  Not only was I a writer, but technically I was now going to be an author.  This was such exciting news for me and worthy of a celebration.  (See “Waiting on Pins & Needles” for more information.)

Once the initial shock wore off, my mind was filled with a hundred questions and a new fear sunk in—fear of the unknown.  Thankfully I had a dedicated group of friends supporting and praying for me.  I also knew three authors, Tamara J. Buchan, Henriet Schapelhouman and Michelle Hollomon, who provided wisdom as I ventured into this unknown territory.

I nervously negotiated my contract with the publisher including the retention of the foreign rights in hopes of someday publishing it in Spain.  Over the last five months, I’ve had several conversations and emails with my publisher and been faced with numerous decisions along the way.

I’ve done multiple edits to the manuscript, had photos taken for the book (thanks to a friend’s time and talent), written a one-sheet (publicity document), sought endorsements (Steven Arterburn accepted!), and navigated my website set up.  With less than two months to go before “Journeys to Mother Love” is published, my attention will turn to marketing and promotional aspects of the book and facing more fears.

Over the past year, my writing has definitely taken me into uncharted territory and stretched me outside of my comfort zone.  There was a lot of time spent in prayer and physically spent writing.  The pain in my right arm and shoulder is a reminder of my devotion to this new direction in my life and my need for some self-care.

When I tell people about the events of the last year or that I am going to be published, I am often met with surprise and excitement for these bold changes in me and what God is doing in my life.  I’ve been told that my path to publication is not typical and that it generally takes years to be published.

I don’t say this to boast.  I have to remind myself of this because I know that it is God who has made all of this possible.  I’ve had to do my part, but I believe that He has put these dreams in my heart.  I believe He has given me these confirmations so that I will continue down this path.  He knew that I would need them to continue facing my fears.

Even though I totally sense God in the midst of this, that doesn’t mean it has been easy.  There have been lots of challenges and times of doubt.  When my doubts surface, I remind myself of His faithfulness and His promises.  (Jeremiah 29:11)

So from that day one year ago that I voiced my desire to be a writer, I’ve had to consciously choose to step into this new role in my life.  As I did I was also accepting my identity in Christ more and more.  In doing so, I have found freedom to write what God lays on my heart to write.  The foundational truth that I cling to is that God accepts me unconditionally even if and when my writing is rejected.  I’d have to characterize that as a pretty strong finish to a whirlwind year of writing.

Are you open to following God’s path for you?  Where are you partnering with Him in your life or where are you fighting Him?  What has He revealed to you along the way?  What’s stopping you from finishing strong?  I’d love to hear your story.

Writing: My First Year, Part 2 – First Steps

I’ve had a burning desire to be a writer ever since my mother died about 1½ years ago.  But it wasn’t until I voiced that desire in a support group meeting one year ago last week that my desire started to become more of a reality—emotionally on the inside and visibly on the outside.

Since that day, I have received one confirmation after another.  Coincidence? (more…)

A Year To Remember, Part 1

It may sound cliché, but 2011 was a year to remember.  If you received our annual family newsletter you have heard some of these amazing things.  I hope that it will eventually be a published book.  Until that time, I’m sharing this more openly in my blog and any other avenues that God leads.  Part 1 is about how writing became such an integral part of my DNA this year.
I started out 2011 trying to just take one day at a time with the uncertainty of my terminally ill mother’s fate hanging over me.  I had made three trips back home in the 17 months since my mother’s stroke and was longing to see her again.  In the midst of this waiting, I was also comforting Rosa, Pedro’s mother*, with the news of her mother’s passing.  And then three weeks later, my mother suddenly passed away.
I was initially in shock as I felt certain that God had told me I would see my mother alive again.  I didn’t understand how God could take my mother so suddenly.  I returned home to St. Louis to handle my mother’s final arrangements and burial. 
That painful trip ended up being such a blessing for me.  I was able to speak at my mother’s memorial—something I never foresaw myself doing.  My mother was mentally ill for pretty much all my life and so I wasn’t very close to her.  Over the months preceding her death though, God was giving me glimpses of how I am like my mother in ways that I hadn’t seen before.  The eulogy ended up being a beautiful tribute to my mother and a way I could share those things with her. It was incredibly healing for me.   The revelations and healing were so significant to me that God laid it on my heart to start writing.
A few months later, my connection with New Life Ministries and Steven Arterburn, led to an interview about my experience.  The interview was distributed nationally to supporters of the ministry.  And so I continued to write.  Shortly after that I was asked to join the team of devotional writers at my church.  I was just getting used to the idea of being a ‘writer’ and I certainly never thought I’d write devotionals.  But after prayer and thoughtful consideration, God gave me the confidence and His words to do it.  I also took some writing classes over the summer and wrote a few short stories.
                In the fall, I began to take my writing more seriously, started my blog and joined the Northwest Christian Writers Association.  It was through this group that I heard about a story submission to a Christian publishing firm for stories of mother/child healing relationships.  That led to the writing and submission of my first manuscript just over a month ago.  That was a huge leap of faith—fingers crossed and praying.
So I started out 2011 with lots of uncertainty in my life around my mother’s passing.  I ended 2011 with closure, wholeness and a new sense of purpose.  God has given me a story and a desire to write it.  That is pretty scary at times because it is a big commitment, but also because I didn’t see it coming.  But isn’t that the way God does His best work?  If I went down this road on my own, I’d want to take the credit for it.  But since I know this is something that I couldn’t do on my own, I have to rely on Him.  He is the author of my story and I’m blessed to collaborate with Him on making it known in whatever way He leads.

 

*Learn about my Spanish connection and who Pedro is in Part 2.

  • WELCOME to my site!

    I'm an author, writer, speaker, mentor & mom. I've struggled to find my voice all my life as I lived in the shadows of a mother with mental illness. Thankfully that was not the legacy that she handed down to me. It took a lot of recovery and deep healing work to rise above it.

    I am thankful to God for Making Me Bold in the process. Now I use my writing and speaking voice to help others on their journey to turn healing into hope.

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    Arrival on Spanish SoilApril 29th, 2018
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