Want What You’ve Got! (grass)

Marriage

Marriage (Photo credit: Lel4nd)

My husband and I are quickly approaching a milestone anniversary.

Would I say that our almost-30-years of marriage has been a perpetual walk in the park? Of course not. Life happens and reality bites, even for the happily yoked.

Our union has seen seasons of growth and seasons where everything seems to be buried under three feet of snow. Such is the nature of relationship – winter and spring, summer and fall.

Budding and blooming, we’ve been silly in love. Holding hands, starting our family, sharing firsts of every kind. Windswept and barren, we’ve felt the chill of change and seen the leaves drop from our tree as if in one fell swoop. Side by side we have weathered bitter cold and sweltering heat, learning how to be there for each other through the years of ups and downs and sideways.

Being in relationship is hard. Whether marriage or friendship or family-tied, the tug-of-war created by personality and circumstance is real and tenuous and inevitable. Many go the way of “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence,” opting for a different set of challenges in hopes that the landscape of new and other will be more pleasing than the well-worn here and now.

Don’t get me wrong – some relationships should be ended. Sometimes it’s not enough to tend your own garden and wait hopefully for the other to join you there. Our brokenness is sometimes more than we – or our life-partners – can bear. Like pouring gas on a fire, some people simply set each other off. We know this. God knows this, too.

In the midst of our relational realities, we have been given direction in the Scriptures regarding how we are to live among our biological, spiritual and nuptial family members, not the least of which is found in Colossians 3:8-10, 12-14:

“But now put these things out of your life: anger, losing your temper, doing or saying things to hurt others, and saying shameful things. Don’t lie to each other. You have taken off those old clothes—the person you once were and the bad things you did then. Now you are wearing a new life, a life that is new every day. You are growing in your understanding of the one who made you. You are becoming more and more like him. God has chosen you and made you his holy people. He loves you. So your new life should be like this: Show mercy to others. Be kind, humble, gentle, and patient. Don’t be angry with each other, but forgive each other. If you feel someone has wronged you, forgive them. Forgive others because the Lord forgave you. Together with these things, the most important part of your new life is to love each other. Love is what holds everything together in perfect unity.”

Through the fence, things often appear more lush and green and inviting. This can be attributed to many things, not the least of which is the expense of hiring a landscaping expert to do the work of keeping up appearances for the rest of us.

Today, let’s choose to work in our own yards – caring for our own grass and flowers and (if your yard is anything like mine) pulling our own weeds. Together we are becoming something that looks a little bit more like Jesus everyday.

Want What You’ve Got – including the required maintenance – and watch your well-watered, love-infused relationship garden grow.

Daily Questions: What long-term relationships are you in? What challenges to unity do you face in these relationships? Are you tempted to look over the fence, or are you able to focus on your own relational landscape? Re-read the Colossians 3 text above and take note of the words and phrases that jump out at you… How might living into this text help your garden grow?

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Great Expectations (a PINK Tuesday post)

Picture of Rocky Mountains

Image via Wikipedia

We arrived at our destination last night – months after beginning to plan for a week away in celebration of our wedding anniversary. Driving into the parking lot after dark, my husband asked the question we were both contemplating silently – does any of this look familiar to you? Hmmm… Not so much. Maybe? It’s dark – I’m sure we’ll recognize things in the morning.

It was, after all, 23 years and some odd months ago that we spent our honeymoon here, off of the beaten path at the top of the Rocky Mountains. Lots of life has taken the place of sweet memories – we ought not be surprised at the fuzziness. At the blurring of the lines.

Something memorable in place and time has been etched into selective memories where only certain details remain intact, woven together by a feeling here, a scent or image there, and a related situation or conversation or after-the-fact experience tacked on for good measure.

My husband and I had great expectations that the place we remember and the milestone it marked would be waiting for us in Colorado when we stepped from the rental car into the crisp autumn air.

How easy it is to set ourselves up for disappointment when our expectations take on a life of their own!

We walked into our vacation rental to find that it didn’t look a thing like our honeymoon memory.

  • Dated carpet, mirrored wall tiles (circa 1980’s) and a whirlpool bath with jets that don’t work.
  • The quaint little town we wandered around for hours in 1988 took all of 20 minutes to ‘explore’ today, since more than half of the shops were closed.
  • It was too cold to paddle-boat.
  • And the little one-room movie theater has long since closed its doors.

It’s dangerous to entertain great expectations which, when unmet, could very well sabotage something beautiful and… new.

New in the way that we can sit beside one another in silence and somehow still be on exactly the same page.

New in that we really don’t need to be entertained in order to find each other entertaining.

New because, unlike 23 years ago, we don’t have to work at or worry about whether we are (engaging) (exciting) (interesting) (important) enough for each other. We know who we are. We know where we stand. And we know that the future (and the past) does not hinge on how closely this new experience we’re having measures up to something we’ve already done.

Our great expectations will not be our undoing because we are content to let today unfold and stand alone, against the backdrop of our life and of our love.

Lamentations 3:25 says that “the Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.” This word ‘wait’ is the Hebrew word ‘qavah’ which means: to wait for, look for, expect, hope. Found at least 50 times in the Scriptures, qavah expresses the idea of waiting hopefully, as did the prophet Jeremiah, who had hope in God’s salvation and was willing to wait for it.

When our expectations are marked by the projection of our impatient and selfish desires onto people or circumstances, we stand to be disappointed with the results again and again. Yet, when we choose to have Great (qavah-esque) Expectations, we look to the Author of our reality and the Perfector of our faith for that which is not only worth having and doing, but worth waiting for as well.

May we choose a posture of hopeful expectation in the days and weeks to come – not for our own plans to be put into motion, but for God’s best to be revealed to those who are more than willing to wait for it. When we do, we can’t help but notice just how right Lamentations 3:25 was…

And how GOOD God IS!