Our editors are so delighted to have Author Katie Kiesler visit us again this Spring to contribute to our educational report on self-care.
We have been honored with Katie Kiesler’s friendship for a few years now. She has nurtured the art community through Coffee and Tattoos as an inclusive forum. She has talked with single SmartyGirls and SmartyFellas in youth senior high school ministry about love and sex. Our SmartyGirl Katie has also allowed readers a glimpse into her personal life as she shared how she handled the season of singleness in her book My Problem with Grace.
We asked Katie Kiesler, with her sweetheart’s permission, to share with us how life has changed from being single to engaged. Her own words are below.
Going from single to engaged means my life has definitely changed. However, not necessarily in a giant leap way, although it might seem like that to others. For me, it’s been a gradual process. The big life changes and decisions, like choosing to move from California back to my home state of Minnesota and deciding to get married, are really manifestations of personal growth. Not that I have arrived at a higher level of my own personal being, but more of a realization of where I am, and who I am. It’s an outward reflection of an internal journey that that the Lord has me on.
I do feel like it’s a journey, but maybe more of an archeological one rather than an engineering one. It’s not about a process in which I build, but a process in which I discover… I see the structural imperfections, realize my inability to fix, and then ask for help. I have not wanted to grow up in so many ways. And the Lord has used life events to make that clear. But once I finally realized it, change could flood in. I opened the door, which I didn’t know was closed.
Knowing who you are, where you come from, your gifts, talents, and flaws, I think, is so important prior to entering a relationship. Not that you need, or possibly could, know every single gem or imperfection inside of you but it’s advantageous to know as much as you can because being in a relationship will reveal even more. Once you’re aware of the areas you need to grow in, you can be secure in who you are because you have nothing to hide. You can rest in the love of the One who created you and not be dependent on someone else’s approval.
Being engaged, and being in any relationship, I think is all about having healthy boundaries. Living alongside another person can make it tough to keep your own identity if you don’t know where you end and the other begins. In a relationship, both people have to be supportive of each other. I don’t think I realized how my fiancé and I’s passions would affect every aspect of our life. My fiancé is super passionate about sports whether it be playing, coaching or watching. I enjoy sports too, but I’ve come to realize that it’s definitely not to the extent that he does. There have been times I’ve tried to keep up with him and immersed myself in sports culture, but to me, that was exhausting and unsatisfying. Through those experiences, I learned I need to make things that fill me up a priority as well. I think I was afraid that if I didn’t do all the things my fiancé was doing that he’d forget about me or not want to spend time with me outside of sporting events.
Really, what I was doing was robbing him of opportunities to love me. If I’m always participating in the things he enjoys, he can’t support me in my passions because I’m not doing them. Therefore, if you know what your passions are and what your purpose is, you can communicate this to your significant other. You can share what you need in order to carry out your goals and at the same time, can be okay with the fact that it might not be identical to your partner’s. It’s not about being the same person, it’s about being different together, helping each other grow in areas you wouldn’t otherwise explore, and being each others’ biggest cheerleader.
I’ve heard it said many times that if you’re in a relationship, you should be stronger together than you are a part. If that’s not the case, than perhaps this isn’t the right person for you. I’ve come to agree with that philosophy. My fiancé balances me out in so many ways – he makes me stop to have fun when I would just work non-stop, I make him do activities like walking and reading when he would be content running and watching sports, but together there is amazing variety and joy in everyday life. Probably because he’s constantly challenging me, which keeps life interesting and definitely more exciting. I can’t wait to keep growing with him because I certainly have so much more to learn.
Katie is a writer who believes students can change the world. Check out her blog and books at katiesjournal.org.