21 years ago, I met the woman who would become my wife. Neither of us realized that the mutual respect and friendship we shared would cause us to “notice” one another 5 years later. This wonderful friendship with Emily Cartwright allowed us to skip some awkwardness only because our history had already revealed some of the good, the bad and the ugly WAY before we tried to impress each other. Saying “yes” to a covenant together was an embrace of acceptance, whatever already is and whatever may come.
We made that promise 15 years ago today. Best earthly decision of my life! But wow…it is God’s Providence and grace that He does not reveal everything coming.
Earlier this week, Emily posted a picture of me in her grandmother’s old recliner, reading, in the midst of a DELUGE of legos our children had dumped out in the floor. That picture received more hits and comments than anything we’ve ever posted in our Facebook history! Funny as it was, it made me wonder exactly why?
Maybe I’m totally off-base, but my hope is that a snapshot of focused-study-amidst-disaster gave people hope. Here’s the deal…that picture really is a metaphor of our life, our marriage, our family. Throughout our journey, oceans of joy and chaos have always pressed in: insane schedules and quiet evenings, picnics at the lake and temper tantrums, honest hugs and slow forgiveness, broken washing machines and new cars, intimate moments and major disagreements, vomit on the carpet and a sparking clean house, too much debt and a-little-extra this month, words spoken that brought life and words that did major damage. And with each passing year, more situations we could never have imagined emerge.
I worry sometimes in ministry, by being on stage, that a subtle message is being communicated to the congregation: These are the people who’ve got it all together! Imitate them! Perhaps this is magnified by the power of image management via social media. The truth is, we do not have it all together! Although, I’d say she is more together than I am. (Good thing I married a Clinical Counselor! For a shameless plug on what Emily is doing, click HERE or on the Restore logo.) But what we DO have is a covenant with The LORD not only to follow Him but to make that journey of discipleship publicly and in community. Please forgive me for the times I have let any of you see only the successes. We are very blessed in our marriage and family, but we share those joys in a sea of things we are still striving to figure out.
Our journey with Christ reveals this: frequently when God creates beauty from ashes, the mess isn’t completely erased. Rather, He forms something so beautiful and redeemed that our focal point shifts towards a glorious miracle against a background of debris.
Every kingdom person is moving toward a future reality when all is restored, every lego will be in place, and all will be as it was intended. In the meantime, celebrate every victory right in the middle of the mess. That single discipline will build unimaginable strength.
Your family is your small group. So is your marriage.