5 whole years married to Riley James Hundley! Woohoo! I really do look forward to writing these posts each year. God is so faithful to provide. His mercies are new every morning. 2019-2020 was a doozy, which means I learned a lot, so here it goes!
1. Prioritizing adventure is essential
Riley and I both thrive on vacation. We love exploring, meeting new people, and going new places. Prioritizing travel has been something we’ve done since the start of our marriage and it has benefited our relationship in so many ways. 2020 was supposed to be a year of new experiences for us. We had a trip to NYC booked for January that got cancelled because of a weird ice storm and we were supposed to go to Europe for two weeks in April, which of course didn’t happen because of Covid. While not going on those trips was a huge disappointment, we were still able to get away for a week to Colorado this summer before Riley started his new job. We hiked, and biked, and brewery hopped. I was even able to slow Riley down enough to watch a sunset at the lake! Something about getting away from your everyday surroundings and work responsibilities allows the fog to lift and gives you fresh perspective. Riley is my best friend, and even though hiking with him feels a lot like hiking by myself with a very fast guide 30 yards ahead of me, I wouldn’t trade our adventures together for the world.
2. Follow the nudge
Who is Holy Spirit to you? Over the last several years my understanding of Holy Spirit and the role he plays in my life has shaped and shifted. This year specifically, I have experienced Holy Spirit as my teacher, friend, and counselor. It’s not that Holy Spirit wasn’t those things for me in the past, but it’s almost as if I didn’t recognize him at work as clearly as I do now. In the past when I have felt overwhelmed or anxious about a particular conversation that I wanted to have with Riley, (which happens fairly often because I chronically try to avoid conflict) I would work myself into a frenzy thinking about how exactly I should say something. This year I’ve really learned to follow the nudge. “Follow the nudge” is kind of a churchy phrase that just means being brave in following through with what you think Holy Spirit is prompting you to do. For me this has looked like several different things. Holy Spirit has prompted me to pray for Riley in really specific ways, with really specific words. He has shifted my perspective and allowed me to change my approach in difficult conversations. He has prompted me to build Riley up with my words and actions, and he has even prompted me to stop at Quik Trip on the way home and pick up his favorite fountain drink. It might seem silly to that I would give credit to Holy Spirit for the simple act of being thoughtful, but Galatians 5 tells us that the proof of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. My natural human tendency is to be completely selfish. It’s by the grace of God that I am able to be halfway decent wife. Being open to the leading of Holy Spirit in my marriage has been a game changer, honestly.
3. Supportive actions are worth more than supportive words (but supportive words are still nice)
This year Riley and I moved back to Kansas City from Manhattan – literally can we just stay in the same place for more than two years? This time we moved back to Kansas City for a job opportunity that I was excited about. I really can’t overstate this enough, but Riley is my biggest supporter. He made big sacrifices to make this move back to Kansas City and I am so, so thankful. Riley has never once made my dreams or desires feel less important than his. I’m so thankful that he empowers me like he does. Riley adds so much value to whatever he is involved with and I am so lucky to benefit from his support and contribution. He is such a team player and I am so lucky to play on his team for all my days on earth.
4. Marriage is not eternal
This is not a new concept for me this year, however, It’s important enough to talk about here as I continue to see a pattern in our culture and especially christian subculture. In all of God’s sovereignty, Riley and I got married when we were very young and are committed to learn and grow together through each new season. However, it’s becoming more and more apparent to me that the Church has done a pretty huge disservice by idolizing marriage above almost all other relationships. There’s no doubt marriage was created by God for the glory of God, but so were other relationships (friendships, sibling relationships, parental relationships, etc.) I am very aware that sharing these thoughts may come off to some as a cynical view of marriage, and I’m willing to be misunderstood for the actual point I’m trying to make. Marriage between two committed Jesus-followers is a difficult journey, and living a life of singleness by choice, or otherwise, is also a difficult journey. Neither reality is better, more holy, or more important. Both can be used in extraordinary ways for the kingdom of God and both are needed and necessary in the family of God. Life for any Jesus-follower, regardless of relationship status will include both joy and suffering – we can count on that.
Honestly, being married for 5 years feels a little outrageous. I’m so proud of us and so thankful that God trusted me with the gift of being Riley’s wife. He provides for the journey. There’s so much grace for the journey.