From Fighting to Goal Setting

Fighting is easy. Pursuing unity is a lot harder. If you watched our live video last night, you know that we shared a little bit about an argument we had yesterday, as well as how we dealt with it. For us, a few tactics have been helping us learn to argue well (deciding we don’t need to divide through disagreement, making the choice to argue with the goal of understanding the other and not defending ourselves, and even holding hands at one point as we fought) – but this blog is about our resolution to the fight.

One of the main things that came up in our argument was the fact that we didn’t seem to be helping each other work towards anything tangible or specific… our actions towards each other have been more reminiscent of simply a meandering stroll, rather than a pursuit towards a common goal. While we’ve talked about dreams, vision, creativity, marriage, kids, ministry, goals, travel, desires, life achievements, and so much more that seems miles ahead, something was revealed yesterday that we’ve neglected: goal setting for the NOW. What day-to-day things are we working towards, both individually and together as a couple? In fact, shining a light on the simple fact that this was missing from our relationship helped us both to understand where the root of our argument was coming from.

Once we figured that out, our fight turned into tangible action that helped us choose the health of our long-term relationship over our own pride. We made lists! Below, we’re sharing those lists with you. There are some items physical, some emotional, some spiritual – but all of these are relevant to the season we’re in currently and what we’re working towards in the immediate future. For the sake of living vulnerably, we know that goal setting can be an overwhelming thing. We’re at the starting line for some of these, and farther along in others, but we’re committed to working them out together in unity and in love.

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What Are We Building? 

Alicia:

  • Make progress in fitness and health (for the current season, cutting out sugar and increasing physical activity, like running)
  • Write more, beginning on a daily basis (and the discipline that comes with sticking to it consistently)
  • Tithe on income consistently (in hopes of increasing in financial generosity and responsibility)
  • Become more involved in our community in LA (including making intentional time for people in our church and beyond)
  • Stay disciplined with music (by picking up the guitar to play and be challenged on a at least a weekly basis)
  • Prioritizing daily quiet time alone with Jesus and letting that guide intentional time with people one-on-one
  • Looking for opportunities to see where God is speaking in any given situation (being intentional to tune out day-to-day distractions and not exchanging any given moment for something “less than” what that moment holds)
  • Be bolder in approach to people (especially carrying confidence and love in interactions with unknown people in daily life)

Coburn:

  • Increase “quiet time” as a priority at the start of the day (intentionally taking time to be less busy, to set my mind on higher things, and to rest with God)
  • Discipline with fitness and health (mostly running 4+ times a week, cutting sugar out of the diet, and increasing core training activities)
  • Create on a daily basis more intentionally (setting aside tangible minutes, rather than just “getting around to it”)
  • Grow/be educated/push more to learn (current skill: daily Spanish lessons on the DuoLingo app)
  • Take daily time to pursue growth in spiritual gifts (including active prayer and listening to God’s heart for specific people)
  • Organize records, emails, and lists that have built up regarding work and creative projects (taking every day for at least 3 weeks to tackle a little bit of this large task)
  • Pursue active “mentor/mentee” relationships (in this current season, find who these people are and begin to build those relationships with intention and time together to be taught and to teach)
  • Listen better (grow in humility, kindness, and friendship in interactions)
  • Find a more disciplined balance with technology (including putting the phone away more frequently when it’s not needed, and taking the time to fully “unplug” for at least a few minutes each day)

Together:

  • Get a handle on our finances with discipline and better budgeting (including beginning the Financial Peace University course that was gifted to us)
  • Grow in our intentional encouragement of each other and of the people around us (that our relationship would be a safe place for us and for people around us)
  • Hold each other to our individual fitness goals (including weekly hikes together and making sure we help each other say no to that dessert!)
  • Help each other with decision to not have sex until we are married (this is a challenging one, and it deserves a blog topic on its own to explain why we’re making this decision together – it’s a good thing, and we both have the heart to see it as a rewarding thing in the long run, but there’s difficulty currently)
  • Spend set-apart, intentional time with God together (including prayer together, worship, and talking with God about what our future holds)
  • Challenge ourselves to constantly grow in the way we communicate and compromise (and find/utilize books, articles, and podcasts that can help us with this on a weekly basis)
  • Continue to always take time and choose to have fun/enjoy life together (including creating things, going on fun dates, and not overthinking the little things)
  • Speak to each other and to people around us with the heart to listen and understand, not defend or prove a point (helping us with our love, unity, and empathy)
  • Learn to rest well (and be tuned in to what any given situation or time holds for us – whether it requires our action or just our rest)

Do any of these goals resonate with you? As we continue on this journey, we’d love to hear about what you’ve learned or how you hold yourself to them.

With love,
Coburn + Alicia

Learning and Loving Through Fear

Many people tend to think the opposite of love is hate. In fact, we’ve begun to learn the great enemy of love is fear, the root of all other types of darkness. So what happens when you’re in a relationship that exposes fear? On the one hand, it is a beautiful thing to be with someone who threatens our fears in order to rid us of them. On the other, it is also a wildly uncomfortable and grueling process. Alicia has some thoughts on this…

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By its very nature, fear twists and tears, worries and warps, hurts and hinders. Oftentimes, it’s the stealthy fears that harm us the most, the ones existing subtly and running deep. These types of fears often bury themselves deep within our psyche, and we get comfortable with them, usually not even recognizing the way they inform our thoughts. They cause us to question the compassion around us, coax us towards the lie that we need to put up walls to protect ourselves, and coerce our thoughts away from pursuing vulnerability, intimacy, and love.

Suspicion is one form of fear that I’ve had to overcome in my relationship with Coburn – it wasn’t that I believed he’d cheat on me, but somewhere deep down I believed that his love for me had an agenda or came with conditions attached. An ugly lie inside of my heart exploited the pain I had experienced from growing up with imperfect parents, who happen to be human (how dare they! haha!). This lie, buried in some deep part of myself, was telling me that I had to earn Coburn’s love, that he would only offer it transactionally if it profited him in return. It wasn’t until some deep, frustrating soul-searching that I was able to dredge this thought out of the depths of my spirit and brain. Surfacing any time an area in which I needed to grow was highlighted in my interactions with him, this false belief had not been previously active enough to identify in other relationships around me. When it became active within my romantic relationship, it was easy to assume that Coburn was the cause.

In reality, Coburn’s presence has been a filter of fear in my life. While this is a scary, challenging, and ultimately incredible part of intimacy, it stirs things in order to surface the fears in our heart, highlight what’s unhealthy within us, and call those things out to be removed. This can be a messy and unflattering process, and were I not armed with God’s promises in our relationship, it would have felt safest to run. Let me say that again: it would have felt safest to run. Yet I realized something through this. Exposing our insecurities often propels us to “fight or flight,” while love opposes that notion and propels us to stay. How else can one explain the decision to persevere in the midst of something painful, holding onto the hope of healing? The reward of the choice to remain is that we learn how to love well.

Facing our fears is a spiritual workout and a soul marathon. We often give ourselves lots of grace for our physical bodies, for we understand that using our muscles makes us tired in a new way; we keep at it because we recognize that we are growing. This same principle applies within, so let’s extend that grace to our hearts in the midst of “marathon training” in our relationships. After all, there’s no better way to go the distance than to train through the pain. Do not stop at fear. Instead, treasure the strength you are building in your heart as you learn to carry love far and carry it well.

Love,
~Alicia

Vulnerability = Being Present

How do you process what’s necessary to start a new venture when it involves putting your vulnerabilities and insecurities front and center? That’s the question we find we’re asking ourselves as we cast vision for what this idea should look like. First, we want to live vulnerably in everything we write, post, and present; we know that’s step one. But how? What does “a life vulnerably lived” look like? Easier said than done…

We began developing this idea at the beginning of the year when we first started dating, having decided not to post publicly about each other or our relationship for pretty much the first full month. Maybe part of it was nerves at a new thing, perhaps some of it from actively choosing wisdom to some degree, or there could have even been fear of failure or the unknown in the early days. We both had very different takes on the reasoning for this, which we’ll get into some other time in individual blogs. Nevertheless, we made the point of removing ourselves from the “public eye” (if you can call social media that) in order to effectively tune in to what we were deciding our relationship to be built on.

What did we ultimately discover that led to this launch? It seems a great portion of vulnerability is presence: simply being seen in an authentic moment. No, this does not necessarily mean displaying an uncut play-by-play or dirty laundry for all the world to see. What if, instead, we let ourselves be fully seen walking through any given moments without a shield of prideful or false self-protection up? What if authority and strength are gained from being present (with full intention and full attention) in the emotions of those moments?

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How easy it has too often been for us to act and respond to both chaotic and celebratory times with the “public eye” in mind, measuring our response carefully to present a curated image of ourselves and our experience. While this can be all well and good in certain situations, we’ve found this to not always be beneficial for us when it comes to operating with the integrity we so desire. True vulnerability is birthed from choosing to share the raw truth, even if it leaves you feeling exposed or open to both praise and criticism. After all, it’s certainly not the most comfortable thing to put yourself out there for even your closest circles to see what you’re truly feeling and experiencing.

In Donald Miller’s book “Scary Close” he posits some thoughts on overcoming the fear of being true and honest…

“The whole experience makes me wonder if the time we spend trying to become somebody people will love isn’t wasted because the most powerful, most attractive person we can be is who we already are, an ever-changing being that is becoming and will never arrive, but has opinions about what is seen along the journey.

…If honesty is the key to intimacy, it means we don’t have to be perfect and, moreover, we don’t have to pretend to be perfect.”  *

That thought is convicting and quite scarily close for comfort, that’s for sure! So where does it leave us? After all, choosing to share what you’re going through in its truest, most full form can certainly be intimidating. But it also takes us further in. As bridge builders, we are so beyond determined to see this in the spheres of influence we have.

Surely, exposure means inviting stronger opinions from others, harsher judgments, and even deeper pain from certain responses. However, by nature, this also means that our souls, in all their doubts and triumphs, are opened up to experience more full and deep love: love that’s unconditional, since it sees us for who we are, authentic, true, and in process. In the end, we believe that is what makes vulnerability all worth it. If it allows for truer intimacy–not just in our relationship with each other, but also in our relationships with our community around us, and even in others across the digital landscape–then we’re all in.

* 2014, Scary Close, Donald Miller – Thomas Nelson, Inc.