Growing up, Justin and his family had a Christmas tradition of watching “The Muppets Christmas Carol” and eating Klondike bars on Christmas Eve. After we started dating it didn’t take long for me to be “initiated” into this tradition. Though the Klondike bars haven’t carried over into our family tradition, Justin and I still sit down sometime during the Christmas season to watch the Muppets. Of course the movie is based on a classic story, and this year I decided to put a marriage spin on it.
Earlier this week I took the opportunity to collect all our photo albums of years past and we spent time looking through them. Some of the pictures were from before we even met. Then we progressed to our first years together and the introduction of our children. What fun we had remembering, reminiscing and laughing about how much our lives have changed over the years. We are not the same people we were when we got married and we have come to accept that and love each other through all those changes.
I am wondering though, how different that experience would be for others? Justin and I are aware that some couples look into the past of their marriage, and it doesn’t bring about the joy and laughter it does for us. It could be that current life circumstances are difficult, or that the future seems so uncertain.
The primary reason almost always has to do with some sort of discontentment. Something painful happening in the present causes someone to not think about their past, or future. Escape seems so much easier and is often the path of least resistance. Today I want to offer you some encouragement about how looking at your past, present and future can benefit your life and your marriage.
Past – To look into your past may cause pain but it also brings about the realization that you made it to this point. Whatever has happened in the past has helped shape, form and mold you into the person you are today. Though there may be pain, I would imagine that you can also find a thread of grace, love or compassion there too. It may be that a need was met in an unexpected way or that a chance encounter led to a meaningful relationship. However much pain the past may bring into your life, dig deep enough and you may find a certain form of beauty that has emerged from that pain. Maybe it is strength, maybe it is endurance, maybe you still can’t see anything beautiful yet, but just keep looking.
I recently read this story about A Marriage Recycled. For this couple, the testimony of their past has given great peace with their present and hope for their future.
Present – What if it’s your present that looks quite bleak? Too many demands, too much debt, too many changes. Your head is spinning with the details of life and nothing is going as planned. Welcome to life on planet earth. Now, I know that is not very encouraging but it’s true. Life has a funny way of not working out the way we planned. This is where I believe it is essential to value and practice faith. Author Meg Meeker says that, “the toughest part about faith is that it fundamentally requires a lack of control. We need to put our faith in someone else because we are unable to control life.” That about sums up my life: I can’t seem to control anything! No matter how much I want to or how hard I try, I fail every time. Faith may seem a very passive step when life is spinning out of control but it is the best step you can make.
Admitting to ourselves and to God that we don’t have it all together and that we need help is the first step towards faith. Learning to trust, in the present, one day at a time, that God is going to help us make it through another day is faith. It may not be easy, in fact some days it will be the most challenging thing ever, but it is the only way life in the present will work for our benefit.
Future – The one word that epitomizes how people want to see the future is “hope”. We want assurance that everything will be ok and that everything is going to work out. Unfortunately, we want things to work out the way we want them to work out and we want to play a role in making sure things turn out ok. I believe we can look to the future with confidence and hope, but only when we look to the past for beauty and approach the present with faith. The future is not yet written and if we spend our lives escaping the past and the present we are not able to walk in strength toward the future. Confidence for the future is not bound up in accumulating more or having security of the outcome. Confidence for the future is learning to be satisfied daily with what we have. Faith that God is able to meet our daily needs and trust that He will continue to do so, one day at a time.
So, where does that leave us? Right here, right now. Learning, trusting, believing. Each day. For as long as we have left.