During a very recent cleaning session, sorting through old papers, looking through old photos and letters, I came across some of the things I like to keep – letters, cards and concert tickets to name a few. They make me think of good times and great memories with friends and help me to remember things that make me smile. So I was reflecting on some moments of life before I met Jesse and then I spent a few minutes reading a letter I had written him before we got married. I was reminded again that our entire life here is comprised of seasons. How much has changed for me in a few short years!!
We are fast approaching our second wedding anniversary and we now have our little 8-month old Declan. My heart is very full and my life is full of blessing. I am married to my best friend who is an amazing man and loves me very much. I am mother to an adorable, happy little boy who makes me smile and fills my days with sunlight and laughter. I am in a new season now… and asking again, like I always seem to be, where does the time go?
Ten years ago… even six years ago, I did not even know who Jesse was. There is a reason for that. We knew a lot of the same people, grew up in the same small city and there were many times it seems our paths could have crossed. While I would have liked to have known Jesse sooner and for longer than I have, I know that in every case God’s timing is perfect… both in ways we discover and also some that I’m sure we never realize in our finite minds.
God can see everything – all of time, all at once! In the days of film camera, my dad used to say, “All of time is like an exposed roll of film to God.” That was an amazing thought to me, as it always seemed that waiting for our pictures to come back and seeing how they turned out took FOREVER!! But now I really miss that, in a way. There was something so exciting about opening that package of pictures after the long wait and seeing them for the first time.
I think sometimes now we all like to have the advantages of digital photography in every aspect of life. There is no time, no wait, everything is right now. But that comes with disadvantages as well. Sometimes we can better appreciate the results of the requests to which God has replied “wait”. God says in Ecclesiastes 3, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” Genesis 8:22 says, “ As long as the earth endures, springtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”
Just as God promised us four seasons for every physical year, He also promised us seasons in the spiritual and emotional realm of our lives – “…A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” Most of us have a lot harder time accepting and embracing the times of mourning and weeping. But another mistake we make is turning times of could-be laughing and dancing into times of weeping because of our perspective… and because we would like to rush into a different season than the one we are in!
While unmarried, in an older issue of Shining Stars, I wrote an article entitled something like “Waiting….or living out God’s plan?” Now as someone on the other side of marriage, I would like to again exhort and encourage you young ladies who have not yet met someone you would like to marry: do not rush into the next season! Do not think of this as your time of “waiting”!! Every phase in life is a new season and if we spend each season “waiting” for the next one, we will develop a habit of “waiting” our whole lives away! Instead of living God’s plan for us here and now to the fullest, we will miss out on many blessings and ways to bless. We should plan for our future, but always asking God what He has, what that looks like (often it is different than we’d thought!) and not become so focused on the future that we miss out today! “The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me. Your love, O Lord, endures forever.” – Psalm 138:8
Once a wife, you can “wait” to be a mother. Once a mother, you can “wait” for your children to be gone or for retirement. Once your children are grown, you can be “waiting” for grandchildren. I am not saying any of these things are wrong to do but if we think that being unmarried is the only “waiting” season in life, we have the wrong focus and perspective. If we live long enough, there may be many seasons of waiting and we may see that being young or being married was yet one of many seasons we have gone through.
Marriage is not an end-all in life. It is something God uses in your life to continue the process of conforming us to the likeness of His Son, Jesus Christ. We both sharpen each other and smooth off one another’s rough edges. We must learn to get along daily with our husbands as we once had to learn to get along with our siblings and parents. The relationships are different, the lessons one and the same.
Though I am a fan of princess movies (and, in my 30’s, guilty of watching kid’s movies, when there is no kid around to blame ?) , I think sometimes young girls see one too many princess movies that end in “they lived happily ever after.” Or at least we somehow get the wrong idea of what that means. It is not that our life after marriage is unhappy, but just that no human being is ever perfectly pleasant all the time. Looking to marriage with that perspective (being married to a perfect prince) is unrealistic. It also brings unrealistic expectations into our marriage that have the potential to tear it apart.
Realize your prince is perfect for you and love your imperfect prince realizing you are an imperfect princess! If you live with someone, even a friend, you find out all his/her weaknesses as well as strengths. You see the bad along with the good. There is no where to hide. As we become exposed to one another, we learn a new level of loving that brings us closer together and we learn to love each other with all our faults. Sometimes this is painful. That is probably why there are so many jokes about the first year of marriage. Though somewhere along the line you lose the newness of early love, you gain a closer, deeper bond that is the stuff of which songs that move you to tears are made.
Marriage will not end any problems you had getting along with others in your family. God will just use it to continue to grow you in those. Before you walk down the aisle, make sure that the strength of your commitment to love that person at the other end is strong enough to get you through these times, because they will come. We need God’s strength and we also need to resolve to work through things together. Your love will grow deeper and more and more meaningful as you come through this – together.
My cousin Lex just graduated this year and I found her a card with a quote from Mitch Albom on the front. It said, “All endings are also beginnings. We just don’t know it at the time.” The opposite is also true. All beginnings are also endings. Know it before you begin, if the beginning we are talking about is marriage and you have not yet begun a serious relationship with someone. Know it so you can realize the blessings you have in your life right now and appreciate them before they are over. When I walked down the aisle two Octobers ago to Jesse at the other end, I had not a doubt in my heart, for which I was so very grateful. You never know for sure until you are there. I had so much peace with my decision and was exceedingly happy. But it was not only the very beginning of a brand-new season for me. It was also the ending of an old and very sweet other season that had lasted 29 years. Everyone knows this at weddings. That is part of why people cry. That is why people cried when my dad gave me away, part of why my dad cried when I danced with my mom, why I, though happy, cried bittersweet tears at the change of not seeing my family as much. My husband has said how special what we had was when he would come over to visit: long talks, working hard, going through the tears together, the time around the table – debates, good food, smiles, laughter, general craziness. For me, all those things were over as a part of my daily life. Of course we visit lots and there is that close bond you always share. For me, it was time to step into a new season. Change is most often bittersweet. All I am asking you to do is to consider all aspects of marriage realistically as a continuation of life if the season you are in is not marriage right now. Consider the blessings you have now. Not the ones you feel are just out of reach.
I recently put together some of my thoughts on life into a visual and daily reminder in the form of pictures and art that makes up my main living room wall. It was inspired largely by the passing away of my husband’s Nana, and that making me realize that yet again another season had just passed and our family had entered a new one. In the center, there is a wall decal tree, with the words, “Dwell in Possibilities” by Emily Dickenson above it, and a framed picture of a stone stairway and trees with Psalm 37:23 above that. Along with other things that have meaning to Jesse and I on the wall – photos of friends, group family photos, a family portrait of us, and some sketches done by friends, there is the main focal point. To the left and right of the tree, in a vertical line, there are pictures of seasons hung. On the right, there are seasonal photos that I switch out for the season we are in – things that make up the season for me. Right now, summer, I have photos up of bare feet in the grass, kayaking, fireworks, blue skies, laundry drying on the clothesline, and flowers to name some. To the left, also in a line, is a more significant display. There is one picture respresenting each of the seasons in our lives we have gone through together since meeting each other – seven altogether so far. Perhaps because the 4 seasons that dictate weather are so predictable, it seems sometimes that with the other kind, God really likes to surprise us. Or perhaps it is to teach us to trust and so many other things. “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord”…Jeremiah 29;11. This can either give us a bad attitude, or a fresh perspective every day. You never know how long, or how short, the season you are in is going to be. I know every season I have been in has been for its own special purpose. I love how pictures can remind us of that. Where God has taken us – where we have been, the lives we have touched or that have touched us. Enjoy the season of life you are in.