From time to time, the front of my refrigerator gets cluttered up with all kinds of things – receipts I think I need to keep, menus, grocery lists, kids’ artwork, and photos. Something in me doesn’t really like a cluttered refrigerator front. (Kinda funny considering the piles of clutter on my desk in our bedroom.) So, I go through refrigerator-front cleaning sprees.
However, there are a few things that I just can’t take away no matter what.
I think the stuff on our refrigerator fronts tells a story about us. On my refrigerator is a picture of a 17-year-old Marine poolee. Marines don’t smile, you know.
But on that same refrigerator there is a picture of the same kiddo – probably ten years younger and smiling – photoshopped as a pilot.
A child’s drawing, although at least sixteen years old, hasn’t been on my frig very long. My oldest daughter drew it and gave it to her grandparents’ neighbor years ago. That neighbor recently found it and gave it to us.
The baby picture is my oldest grandchild, Aria, when she was a little squirt – the first smiling picture we have of her.
On the other door of the frig is the first artwork that same baby, now 2 1/2 years old, created at my house one day.
Even the magnets tell a story of my Mary Engelbreit obsession and of home repairs and carpet cleanings and dog vaccinations.
The story of the Deatherage family on a refrigerator. The seasons of our life together.
As I contemplated that refrigerator story I thought that if I had the chance to do it over, I wouldn’t really change anything. I would just try to do a better job – to be a better wife, a better mother, a better friend. To life a life that would leave me with no regrets at the end.
You know…the way people talk about living life in such a way that they have no regrets – nothing left undone. That seems to be what people want.
But…as the thought crossed my mind another thought…a question I should say…followed it.
Is that possible? To live a life without regrets?
Think about it a minute…in wanting to live without regrets are we setting ourselves up for failure?
If you’re not quite following me, let’s replace the word “regrets” with “sins”. Because isn’t that what we are really talking about?
I regret losing my temper and not honoring my husband as I should. I regret inconsistent discipline of my children. I could go on and on, but point is that our regrets are usually sins.
And yes, Christ died to set us from the penalty of sin. The Holy Spirit empowers us to resist temptation. God graciously forgives our sin.
But, in this life it doesn’t stop. Get one sin conquered and another one you never even thought about crops up.
There will always be things that I regret in this life, but I can look at those pictorial representations of my life on my refrigerator and be encouraged.
God – the God who formed the world from nothing with just a few words – can take the bits and pieces of my life, both good and bad, and create something beautiful.
A generation ago it was not surprising to find couples who had been married twenty years or thirty years or even forty years. Now a long-lived marriage seems to be a rarity. In the past couple of years I have been dismayed by the number of struggling and failing marriages in our church and I can’t help but wonder how many are caused by expectations that can never be met.
When Jim and I married almost 33 years ago, we went into it with the understanding that there would never be talk of divorce. We were prepared to vow before God that we would stay together and be faithful to each other for life. Looking back now I cannot remember whether I expected our marriage to be perfect. I was a fairly idealistic 20-year-old, but we had already had a few disagreements and a few adjustments of attitudes and expectations before the wedding day came. We had found out that Jim was strong-willed and that I was stubborn, but that did not change our commitment to each other.
I do remember somewhere in the midst of raising four children and homeschooling and serving at church and running a small home business that I began to wonder whether we had lost something along the way. Some spark…some magic. Life is not easy and marriage is not either, but what we always had was that promise we made to each other when we became engaged and the vow we made to God when we met at the altar at Memorial Baptist Church.
In January Jim took me on a week-long cruise for my Christmas-birthday-anniversary present. It was wonderful – the weather, the scenery, the food, the entertainment, everything! But the best part was the realization that our marriage has turned another corner. We have come through lots of bumps and bruises and good memories and rough roads and happy days and stormy weather and now there is peace and comfort with each other and trust built over time and a looking forward to what is to come.
Could I encourage you not to expect your marriage to be perfect? Could I encourage you instead to cling to the God who brought you together and to expect Him to perfectly carry you through your rocky times? Can you believe that He is the author of your marriage? Can you expect your God to be perfect when you and your husband cannot be? He is faithful and He will do it!