I used to have this scrap of paper, one that I saved for many years. It was torn from a magazine and lived in the junk drawer in my room. A picture of a woman in a wedding dress that I fancied in the days when I pretended and imagined. It was poufy and shiny and just a tad too much. It was the stuff that childhood wedding dreams are made of.
I lost that picture somewhere along the way. And it’s okay. That style is not mine anymore. But here we are, sitting in the thick of the most farcical of holidays, Valentine’s Day. The one where we’ve mostly-sorta-kinda-reluctantly agreed to shower our loved ones with sugar and overpriced flowers and sappy cards, written by people who don’t know us at all. I don’t hate it entirely. I take it as an opportunity to fawn over my babies even more than I already do, as an excuse to buy cute things in the shape of hearts. But if that was the only time I told them ‘I love you,’ it wouldn’t be nearly enough.
And what of our marriages? If Valentine’s Day was your sole source of grandiose gestures, would it be enough? Not likely. It would only serve to expose the lack, the ache, the imperfections. If perfection is a lie – and it is – then it’s never found a more fertile soil than in marriage. Oh how we wish for what we see on those romantic fairytale films. The unfulfilled fantasies of Cinderella and Notting Hill are gone-with-the-wind, huh?
And unfulfilled quickly morphs into bitter and withdrawn. Entitled and pouting. How many marriages explode because of stray socks and stinky, sopping towels and obligation that makes us tired and dishes in the sink? Friends, I would wager good, hard earned money on this truth: That most marriages can survive a full-blown, heartbreaking betrayal much easier than it can the wear and tear of ordinary life.
So, what if. What if we called the lie a lie? What if we took away its power to make us swoon at what’s not reasonable, so we have eyes to see the beauty in authenticity? What if we tried to see the stunning in the mess and chaos? What if we wanted what we have and not what we don’t? What if we were honest and frank and okay with how our flawed marriage stories read?
What if trips to Walmart are really dates with the one we married? What if the canned foods aisle is better than the meal at a fancy restaurant? That food is too frou-frou for me anyway. What if flowers don’t come on Valentine’s Day, but some run-of-the-mill day instead? What if movie nights in my faded jammies are just fine? Especially when he makes that popcorn on the stove, with lots of salt.
I don’t have it figured out. Not by a long shot. And I know that not every marriage is built to last, nor should all of them. God never intended His design to be tarnished by abuse, friends. No way.
But I do know that if God saw fit to author marriages for our good, than it is good. Even when every moment of every day doesn’t feel good, it’s still good. Even when the exhaustion and disillusionment sets in, it’s still good. Even when you take off the rose-colored glasses in favor of the ones that correct your vision to total clarity and you see your marriage for all that it is, it’s still good.
We only need to remind ourselves. As often as it takes, until we can see the goodness just before us.
Happy Valentine’s Day,