Sunday, June 7, 2009

Marital Moments Issue 34 - The Wedding Gift

I broke a plate this week. Not just any plate; it was a large decorative plate that my husband and I received for a wedding gift. It was hand made and has our wedding date on it. Normally when a dish breaks; I will carefully clean up the pieces and off to the trash it goes. But this one I just couldn't bring myself to throw away. Out of all of our wedding gifts; it was the one that both my husband and I instantly loved and it has been holding fruit (and other food items occasionally) for nearly 11 years now.

It is shattered enough that to glue it back together would be a little obvious. Yet; I left it broken and shattered on the counter just to see if my husband might be able to epoxy it back together. (He's talented like that!)

The household was busy when he arrived home and I didn't have a chance to mention it to him before he saw it. I knew instantly that he had when I heard him sadly say, "Oh no!" It was a tender expression filled with the understanding that we have three relatively small children who could have easily broken it while trying to "help out." After explaining that I was the one who had broken it; we both just stood there staring at these pieces of porcelain that have held such meaning to us both over the years.

The couple that had given it to us as a gift have long since been divorced. The husband had attempted to re-discover his youth with his secretary.

My husband proceeded to tell me that he had heard just that day that a couple that we have known almost our entire married life together was also heading for divorce. I was in shock. This was one of those couples that you automatically said both of their names when you talking about them or planning to do something with them. Apparently the wife has been having an emotional affair for quite some time and has decided that she is no longer "in love" with her husband at all.

It was such a reminder to me that we need to be intentional about pursuing our spouses! There is no place in marriage where you no longer have to invest of yourself. You don't pass the 10 year mark, the 15 year mark, the 20 year mark, or in this couple's case; the 35 year mark, where you no longer have to keep guard over your heart and mind. Where you don't have to be quick to love and willing to forgive.

Those things are easier to do if our hearts and minds are fixed on Christ. But I think it is fair to say that there are also times; seasons if you will, where we ebb and flow in our marriages and Spiritually as well. We are on fire - growing, learning and passionate about living for God; and then gradually find ourselves having to awaken again to the things of God. Begin reading our Bible (either in a fresh meaningful way or at all), praying, and drawing near to God once again. Is is often in those Spiritually drowsy moments when our guard begins to drop and we allow ourselves to entertain temptation.

We are all tempted. But it is when we allow ourselves to entertain temptation that we end up either having to battle our way out mentally (and Spiritually) or we fall.

We decided right then and there to fix the plate. It will probably be obvious that it has been glued; but it is also now symbolic to us both that we are going to fail at points in our marriage. There will be moments when something that I do or say will shatter my husband and vice-versa. But we are committed to picking up the pieces and asking God to epoxy us back together again through His love. Yes, maybe our marriage will be forever changed through those instances. Perhaps that "original beauty" will have been altered; but it is my prayer that our marriage will continue to grow more and more beautiful and meaningful - God epoxy and all.

"Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up." James 4:7-10 (NIV)

the same verses from The Message version:

"So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he'll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it's the only way you'll get on your feet." James 4:7-10 (The Message)

My heart is passionately crying out to those of you who may need to hear it today:

wake up - draw near to God

and go out of your way to pursue your marriage.

May the epoxy of God's love bind up your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Many Blessings!

Shanda

22 comments:

Rachel said...

Wow.

There have been many, many times when I needed this message - but had been quick to discount it.

I am in prayer (grateful prayer) for my marriage and have learned the hard lesson that it takes growing - constant pursuing, constant attention. As a youth pastor once said, "you can't coast except downhill".

Thank you for this post - so beautifully portrayed by the story of your repaired plate.

Warren Baldwin said...

Many people HOPE they have a good marriage. Nobody just hopes they build a successful business, go on vacation, or set money aside for retirement - they work on it with purpose and intention. The same is true of marriage. We must plan for a marriage to be successful. That includes forgiving, patching up (like our plate), loving, serving, forgiving some more, etc. Very good post. wb

Cheryl G said...

I love your stories, Shanda. Charles and I watched some good friends of ours go through a long divorce process and it hurt a lot. When we say their names, we still say them together. The facts of their breakup taught us several ways to guard our hearts and ways to be transparent with each other, so there is never a issue of the trust between us being called into question. God really does use "all things for the good of those who love Him and are called to His purpose" Rom 8:28

Still Learning said...

so true, so true.

Stacey @ The Blessed Nest said...

What a great post!! Loved the example of the plate! Every marriage has it's ups & downs. Praise God He's always there to "glue" us together when we need Him! :) And so important to keep Him in the center of our marriages, because "a cord of 3 strands is not quickly broken" (Ecc. 3:12).

christy rose said...

Shanda,
I loved the illustration of the plate and it being an example and a reminder to you and your husband of the times when you epoxy the areas of your marriage when you have been shattered by with each other's words or actions. Great post!
Christy

Gretchen said...

I second Rachel's "Wow."

It's funny, I was just baptized yesterday, and amidst the hugging and well wishing, a wise woman looked me in the eye, and said something to the effect of, "you've just made a proclamation and climbed to the top of a mountain. Be on your guard, for the devil hates this."
Part of me recoiled the teeniest bit, but I love her all the more because she's right. 100%.

Great story. I'm so glad you fixed the plate. What an awesome reminder, too, that only God can make things seemless and perfect.

Shayla said...

Shanda, I LOVE THIS BLOG!!!

The Lord works so much through you that you are able to write and express so eloquently!!!!

I am not married, but I truly enjoy reading postings about the workings of a Christian marriage.

I think getting married is the second greatest promise I will make in my life (1st being my promis to Christ to follow in His light).

Thank you so much for sharing a real life moment with Biblical insight!!!!

Sistas in Christ!!!
~Shayla

PS- I can't wait for Titus 2 Tuesdays :-)

rhemashope said...

God epoxy. I love it.
Off to go pursue my husband.
Thank you, Shanda.

Laura said...

I'm so glad you decided to put the plate together again. I would have, too!

Farmgirl Paints said...

Sooo good. And what a great reminder. I have been hearing about a lot of break-ups too and it always makes you shudder and think "what if". I don't know what I would do without my husband. We have been together for so long, I would be clueless.

I love that you put the plate back together...what a great analogy. You are a really good writer. You should sign up to write for 5 minutes for faith or something.

Thanks for the comment on my blog and for adding me to your sidebar...YAY!!

Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

Awesome post!! :)

I'm glad to know my kids aren't the only ones who spontaneously heal themselves. ;) ;)

Billy Coffey said...

Shanda, I'm so glad you stopped by my blog so I could follow you back here. What an amazing writer you are, and this is such a good message.

Yes, it all falls apart sometimes. Even in the best marriages. But as long as both are there to help glue things back together, all will be well.

Awesome!

Daveda said...

Shanda,

I love this post. Even at the thought of anything opposing in my marriage, I turn to Jesus. Only by keeping my eyes on Him and trusting Him to strengthen and teach me in this area will I succeed. Only He gets the credit for where we are now...LOL...if people only knew how far we have come!

And, I want Him to get all the credit for where we end up as well!

Love ya!

Keystone said...

You ever trip over your own feet? It makes you feel so dumb and like a klutz, eh?
A simple thing happened....you got your steps out of order, and the next thing you know, you are tripping toward the ground face first.

I love the quote from James.
Submit to God.
Resist satan.
Two steps.
Note the order.

Some people try to resist satan (temptation) first.
They are out of step and set to trip on their own feet. The order was given specifically, and for a good reason.

You cannot defeat satan; God already has.
Submit to God (first) and the rest follows like tock after tick.

I wanted to thank you for your kind words to me Shanda, when you posted at Billy Coffey's blog this day. It scooted to my Gmail as well.

Many have suggested blogging to me, and that may come one day. But I have found that salt and light are effectively spread in Comments far and wide.

Many bloggers run a tight ship. They are after ad revenue and want short, concise, praise of the blogpost, from as many folks as possible.

I have found an enormous number of good blogs; and an even greater number of poor or no commentary after a post. There is a disconnect between the audience and the author.
I enjoy being a catalyst to connect the two, but oftentimes, either we have a Twitter mentality toward reading, or a blog owner with pride. Both can prevent relationship through commentary.

For your Blog Roll, I strongly recommend Girl In A Glass House (two finches). I comment there often, for the host is open and transparent.... um, it's a Glass House!

Your blog is called "A Teachable Heart..."

I read your post on marriage and a broken plate, and smiled at the truth of your title.
Both you and your husband have drawn nearer because the plate is broken, than if it were still whole.

You shared the damage of that plate, and worked together to put it back together as best as you could.

I read that and pondered: "Could God have wanted that plate to slip and break so Shanda could see how easy it is to almost lose something precious?"

A gal with a teachable heart, and a husband with heart on fire for that gal, is a winning combination.

Our newspaper prints Vital Statistics every Monday.
Born, Marriages, Divorce, Bankruptcy.
Lists of all appear every Monday.
[Obits are every DAY!]
The Monday list makes a great prayerlist for the week.
Many born are to single moms (no dad is listed).
I find it useful to pray for that baby, AND, the parents of the baby, who will one day be a spouse to this new child.

Marriages need prayer on that list, for most couples have invested heavily in a wedding, not a marriage.
Many have lived as though married too, since long ago. Prayer please.

Divorced and bankrupt need deep prayer, for all the dreams have shattered as surely as your plate, and no more glue can be found.

They publish this prayer list as Vital Statistics, but the paper is wrong.

True Vital Statistics are published in a love letter from our God, called the Bible.

I enjoy using God's blog and employing HIS comments to prayer everywhere.

Since it is Monday, and you are new to me, prayer goes out for you and your marriage this night.
The best is yet to come!
God bless you abundantly.

Kristen said...

I love this post, Shanda. Timely, as well! I really love your scripture choice, and the symbolism with the fruit plate and God-glue. good, good, good!!!!! Love you! --our recital is the 27th of June, 2 pm-- by the way! Thanks for your comments!!!

girlinaglasshouse said...

SHanda

Thank you for commenting on my blog...and I am grateful to Keystone as well as this led me here to you.

This is a very important post...a message we cannot hear too often. I recognize that there are seasons in the spirit (and marriage) but I wonder if I need to accept that as an unchangable reality? Could I teach myself to see the first faint signs of a downward spiral and catch myself in order to remain ever in close contact?

I am not talking of good times and bad. I know those are neccesary to strengthen and purify. I am speaking of the times I choose dryness in my relationship because I have let other things crowd into my heart.

Suffice it to say, you have made me think...oh and i agree with you. The repaired plate serves as a great reminder!

Shanda said...

Keystone,
Thank you for praying for me & my marriage this Monday. It seems you know the difference between "Singing and Singing" (that Billy Coffey referred to) from heartfelt experience and God is using that as you pray for so many on Mondays. Prayer is most definitely a form of PRAISE!

I appreciated your comments on two-stepping. Excellent articulation.

It is always interesting to me the various ways of ministering to others God gifts us and prompts us in. I can see more clearly now how your salt and light is generously spread in commenting. What a unique and powerful thing I'm sure it is to many.

For the phase of life I am in personally, blogging is the main venue with which God uses my writing. The relationship between author and commenter here typically happens blog to blog (or e-mail). Although I would in no way be opposed to more of a "community" within the comments themselves. I enjoy those who reach out or encourage others who have commented and also bloggers who go back through and respond to each commenter for every post; but limited time prohibits me from being able to do that on a regular basis. But rest assured that I am less concerned about ad venue and praise of a post than about relationships - between the reader and God as well as between myself and the reader. (Perhaps I should say myself and those who take the time to comment. Many read - both posts and comments without commenting themselves. I pray God touches them in some way for having read.)

I visited over at the "Girl in the Glass House" and enjoyed the post that I read. Thank you for the recommendation.

May God continue to use your comments for His glory! Blessings and peace to you tonight-

Pam D said...

Best. post. EVER. (left me speechless, and that's hard to do).
hugs and blessings... and many thanks!

Pam D said...

Oh, and after my comment, I read the other comments. Not sure who all of the folks are, but the comments are amazing. And I can testify, from personal experience, that Shanda is NOT after personal gain or "numbers". We've gotten to know each other via email and blog posts, and she runs both deep and wide in her knowledge of the Word and her desire to spread it. This vehicle works for now; who knows what the future may bring? (well, God does, but He's not tellin'.) Anyway, this blog is a topline favorite for me, simply because I KNOW I'll take away something of value every time I visit. The biggest problem usually comes in finding a big enough container to carry all that I find!
Love you, sweet Shanda...

Sue said...

WOW! What a powerful illustration God gave you through that little broken plate. As my hubby & I were planning our wedding in 1994 I had one sister-in-law cheating on my oldest brother and one sister who told me she "didn't marry God's choice" and she ended up leaving him in 2003.

Walking into marriage I realized by these "examples" just how fragile marriage is and we determined then and there that the "D" word is not part of our vocabulary. It is work being married for sure, but with God as the center and selfishness placed high on the back of the shelf, it doesn't have to "feel" like work!

Thanks for sharing this amazing story of just how fragile life is and that instead of tossing something sacred away, we can take it to God to glue it back together ;-)

God bless you & your hubby!

Shanda said...

Pam,
I am humbled by your words, thank you sweet friend. You are one of those special gifts that God brings into a person's life. Thank you for being an "Iron Sharpens Iron" kind of friend even though we have not yet had the privilege of meeting face to face!

May God continue to bless you abundantly!

Shanda