About Jamey Strom

I am a girl from Alabama who met her husband online and moved to South Dakota. Now I am learning everyday about love, life, marriage, faith, and teaching.  You can find me at TheMiddleofLife.com.

Not Who I Want to Be

I took a communication style inventory in a meeting at work last week, and I walked away feeling the results were eerily accurate. It was one of those quizzes where you read a prompt and try to quickly follow your first instinct for selecting an answer, rather than over-thinking and attempting to choose the “right” response. Because I spent many of my early teen years taking quizzes in magazines, I can often notice a pattern in my answer choices and begin to predict the results before I calculate my final scores. However, this test was different.

My answers were literally all over the place. In one question, I indicated I wanted recognition. Then I said I wanted to be in the background organizing things. Next I admitted that I can be too blunt. After that I checked that I worry about what others think of me. When I began to score it, I confirmed my fear that my answers were not falling neatly into one category. It was like I had figured out the one way to fail a subjective test – to end up with no dominant characteristics at all.

When we had to raise our hands to show our highest scoring profile, I clung to the 7 that showed I was a “Green Beaver,” but I knew that the 5’s under “Beige Lion” and “Red Dolphin” really weren’t much lower. (Weird names. I have no idea…)

I truly identified with the Green Beaver characteristics. I love order, accountability, competence, responsibility… Calling me thorough and logical can sometimes feel like the best compliments.

Some of the adjectives describing the Beige Lion and Red Dolphin felt like they fit too… Control, decisiveness, too blunt, action, excitement…

Then I realized something.

I scored fairly evenly across three out of four categories. 7, 5, and 5.

I got a 1 under “Blue Panda.” Hmm… That’s interesting.

Love and kindness, understanding, support, affection, harmony… All the things that I’m not. Or at least the things that don’t tend to be my natural instinct.

Yeah, so here’s the thing.

I’m not sure how many people who truly know me would ever describe me as sweet or gentle or loving.

I know I’m female, and it’s supposed to be hardwired into my DNA. I know that as a wife, daughter, friend, sister, and hopefully future mother, I am supposed to be sensitive and nurturing. Particularly in my church culture, I have spent recent years feeling pressure to dress a little like a hippy and sit in coffee shops writing poetry and love notes to Jesus in my organic journal. (Note: Sarcasm and exaggeration are sometimes my love languages.)

I’ve wanted to be that girl. I’ve tried to be that girl.

I’m not that girl.

I’ve struggled for years with this piece of Scripture:

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” 1 Peter 3:3-4

Gentle and quiet? Oh boy.

You know what I realized recently that has stirred this struggle in me in a fresh way? This verse is placed in a context of teaching about marriage. (Yes, I know. Captain Obvious. However, I spent more than a decade processing it through the lens of a single young woman… Now that I’m married, I’m encountering these ideas in a new way.)

“Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.” 1 Peter 3:1-6

Well, great. Now not only am I not easily gentle or quiet, but I am also not very good at being respectful or submissive.

See that part about winning our husbands over “without words”? Yeah. I tend to have a lot of words.

At one point a few months ago, I turned to many of my married friends and mentors to seek out their advice related to this. They all know me well, so they know that I love to be quick-witted and funny. One of my deepest desires is to be sincere and genuine everywhere I go. On a few occasions, this has caused my husband to feel a little embarrassed in public as I expressed my opinions or spoke and acted with dramatic expression (read: strong facial expressions and gestures. Perhaps dancing in the middle of Walmart… Hypothetically.). I so badly wanted my mentors to tell me that I wasn’t hurting anyone by just being myself with my strong and vibrant personality and that he just needed to get over it.

They didn’t.

MANY related with me and had experienced this before. It led to good conversations about being BOTH a strong woman and a respectful wife.

One close friend saw straight through my struggles and spoke to my heart. When we talked about becoming quieter, gentler, more loving, and more respectful, she said, “You will not lose yourself in this process. You will be made better.”

You will be made better in marriage.

WOW. Instant tears. (See??? I can be sensitive!)

I was feeling so confused about my identity. Why would God make me vocal and expressive and then tell me to be quiet? Why would my husband tell me when we were dating he loved that I was so genuine, and now he wanted me to change? Why can’t I just be myself?

I’m learning that I can… I just have to be the WISE version of myself.

It is a good thing to carefully choose my tone and timing when I approach my husband with concerns. It is good to honor him in front of others. It is good to continue to be myself and to use my strengths and gifts while allowing the Holy Spirit to simultaneously make me better.

I’ve already seen the Lord work through my developing gentleness. He has used it to soften me and to soften my husband at times. I’ve got such a long way to go. The other day, my temper was really flaring up and I started praying, “Lord I am so ready for the day when You will change my heart so I won’t feel and react this way anymore!” I felt Him softly correct me and tell me that He is teaching me to choose love and self-control in the midst of my strong emotions of frustration or selfishness.

I will never write on this blog or on my own to claim that I have everything figured out. I feel this is just a bit of humble and open (and hopefully genuine) reflection on my life, my faith, and our marriage. I know that my strong personality equips me in many ways to stand firm when I need to and to communicate honestly when confrontation is hard. One of my best friends even tells me she is jealous of the ways that I confront frustrations in marriage. She is on the opposite end – so full of gentleness and love that she often avoids confrontation and rarely addresses her concerns with her husband or with others. I know things like this are never just black or white – all good or all bad… I’m just thinking and discussing and hopefully growing.

And that communication-style inventory? I hope my husband will take it soon. I would be willing to bet money that he is a sensitive and loving Blue Panda.

Remember

When it comes to marriage, after recently celebrating our one-year anniversary, my husband and I are babies. In fact, because we met only two years and four months ago, we haven’t even known each other very long. When people ask about our anniversary, I keep exclaiming with a fist-pump and a smile on my face, “We made it!”

Most days, we feel pretty new at everything in our lives. For me it’s a new state, new region, new climate, new job… For both of us it’s a new church, new role as homeowners, new family, new friends, new joys, and new challenges.

That’s a lot of NEW.

Our anniversary weekend was much busier than we might have otherwise chosen, as many events and opportunities piled up into a two-day period. All within about 48 hours, we had to choose between things like a wedding and reception, a free multi-day Christian music festival, visiting with family who had come from out of town, watching the opening day of college football season, going with family to the state fair, AND celebrating our anniversary. It’s like we had too many blessings to try to receive and enjoy in such a short period of time.

And let’s just say I don’t always handle stress, pressure, and over-loaded schedules with a calm sense of grace.

However, my favorite moment of the entire weekend came unexpectedly on Sunday – our anniversary. On a random trip to Walmart that was not originally scheduled in our plan for the weekend, my husband surprised me by pulling off at a state park where we had gone on one of our first dates. We’ve been there a few times together over the last couple of years, hiking to the top of a large hill to look out over the landscape. Bringing our Bibles to share a devotion together. Taking our dog for a little adventure and exercise. This beautiful site holds special meaning for me in particular because it was on our first visit there, holding his hand and walking back down the path to return to the car, that I felt the Lord show His love for and intimate knowledge and understanding of me in His detailed design and plan for bringing us together.

This time on our anniversary, we didn’t climb to the top. Instead, we remained in the car, looking at this place from a distance. I don’t know if he planned it ahead of time or felt inspired in the moment, but my husband used that place to challenge me to remember our year together.

Remember

Some days it’s hard.

We get so busy and caught up in the daily tasks of life: long hours at our jobs that sometimes feel like they dominate our time and energy; responsibilities at home such as cooking, cleaning, and renovation projects; the desire for entertainment, relaxation, and time with friends… (We don’t even have kids yet… I know that’s a whole different league of busy!)

It can be hard to remember.

Even on a more moment-by-moment basis. One of us says or does something hurtful or possibly even thoughtless. The other becomes defensive, and the entire mood of the conversation, day, or relationship feels like it begins to harden or dry up.

It can be hard to remember.

In Joshua 3, the Israelites carried the Ark of the Covenant and miraculously crossed the Jordan River on dry ground to enter into the Promised Land for the very first time. Then in chapter 4, God commanded Joshua to call one man from each of the twelve tribes to carry a stone from the midst of the Jordan to build a monument on the other side.

He wanted them to remember.

20 And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. 21 And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, 24 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever. Joshua 4:20-24

Here’s a part that I’ve often overlooked: even though this was the fulfillment of God’s promise to lead them to a land flowing with milk and honey, they were actually entering into war.

13 About 40,000 ready for war passed over before the Lord for battle, to the plains of Jericho. Joshua 4:13

God knew they were walking into challenges and trials, both literally and figuratively. They would need to remember where they had come from and what God had done. They would need a visual reminder and conversation starter to pass along the heritage of God’s faithfulness to their children.

In the church world, these are sometimes called “stones of remembrance.”

Perhaps we need them in our homes as well, whether they be real stones or another significant object or picture. Our home is decorated with pictures from our engagement and wedding and a framed copy of our vows. Even my bridal bouquet (one of the benefits of using fake flowers!) sits in a vase on the dresser in our bedroom. We have stones of remembrance all around us, so now we just need to slow down and pay attention to them so they can help us to remember.

Remember how God brought us together.

Remember how He confirmed His plans for us.

Remember the mission that the Lord has called us to pursue and accomplish together.

Then we will be filled with the faith and love we need for today, tomorrow, and the next fifty+ years.

Remember in marriage