A few years ago I helped run a mentoring program at a school in Bridgeport. Everyone once in awhile we would do a fun activity and one of those actives was making a tower out of spaghetti and marshmallows. How is works is that you break into teams, and the teams build the towers. The team that made the tallest tower wins. So the teams build their towers, we measure the towers, and announce the winners. Everything went seemingly perfect until clean up. In a matter of ten seconds clean up turned in a full blown marshmallow fight. Anyone remember that glorious night?I don’t know if you have every watched a marshmallow fight develop with your own two eyes, but there were marshmallows everywhere. Splattered all over the floor, smashed all over people’s hands and in their hair, and clumps flying through the air. I did my best to contain not only my anger at the mess that was quickly getting worse but also my laughter. Marshmallow fights are hilarious! I was yelling for the middle schoolers to stop at the same time I was laughing. It wasn’t until I announced that I was ending the night early that they listened to me. This was probably one of those times where I thought to myself I didn’t sign up for this.
Life can sure seem like that marshmallow fight sometimes. It can for real be a sweet mess, but unlike a marshmallow fight, not so funny. Life can leave you thinking I didn’t sign up for this.
I will make you my wife forever— I will make you my wife in a way that is righteous, in a manner that is just, by a love that is gracious, and by a motive that is mercy.
Hosea 2:19 (International Standard Version)
In the book of Hosea, we have Hosea who marries Gomer, a prostitute. When God instructed Hosea to marry a prostitute, Hosea knew that Gomer would be unfaithful and she was. Not exactly how you imagine your life to go, huh? No Disney movie here. I can only imagine that Hosea may have thought I didn’t sign up for this. However, Hosea obeys God, goes and finds his wife, shows her gracious mercy, redeems her, and brings her back home. Their love story is beautiful but it is messy.
We can have this fairy tale picture of how our life should be, but life can be far from the idea of perfection. This week was Valentine’s Day and Mike’s birthday. When we said our vows my idea of Valentines Day was a fairy tale. This year for instance, I had to grand idea of how the day would go. Charlie, Olivia, and I got Mike a present, and in my mind Mike would come home with his usual flowers for me and Charlie would excitedly give him his present and Mike would happily open it with a big smile on his face. Well after long work days for Mike and I, then a long doctors appointment for Olivia where we find out that she isn’t gaining weight as expected, getting home late and rushing Charlie through dinner and a bath before wind down time, pumping and giving Olivia a bottle… I never had Charlie give Mike his present. Wife fail. Not only that, but the flowers Mike got me had mold on them. In his defense, he didn’t notice the mold. I can’t make this stuff up! Happy Valentines Day! Definitely doesn’t add up to how I thought the day should go. This isn’t what I signed up for.
No. What I did signed up for was something much more. When we said our vows, the vows looked past the ups and downs of life. In our vows we committed to love each other in a way that is righteous, a manner that is just, and a love that is gracious through where life would lead. I described above that Valentines Day that wasn’t perfect, and it was that way by a fault that was not our own but just circumstance. I admit though that there are times that I don’t live up to those vows, but through it all there is mercy. Mercy. Not giving someone what they deserve. Gracious love. Giving someone what they don’t deserve. And all through the sweet mess, this is what we strive for. To love each other with gracious love and mercy.
No life is not a fairy tale, and I definitely never imagined I would get moldy flowers on Valentines Day. This is life. Valentines Day was just another day in our house, but in days like today I am so thankful to have Mike by my side to do life with and to raise our family with, to follow the God we love with, and to live in a way that strives to show mercy and grace with. Even through all of the craziness, I feel so lucky to be able to do life with him. There are ups. There are downs. There are times of frustration and times of having dance parties, but I can look back and be pleasantly overwhelmed with the life we get to live. I will cling to the sweet moments. The moments when Charlie asks us to have a dance party and grabs our hands and starts giggling as we bounce around. Or when we are driving and I hear a little voice singing Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. And like a flood His mercy rains, unending love, amazing grace. When Charlie sings, the words of the songs pierce my soul. Oh God, may we live lives that show that amazing grace. It is by grace that we are saved. Help us to love endlessly, and show mercy.
Yesterday, I finally was able to have Charlie excitedly give Mike his birthday present, just as Mike came home with a bouquet of a dozen perfect pink roses because he felt so bad about the other flowers. Gracious love. No, life is not a fairy tale, but it sure is sweet!
Beautiful one, we are not guaranteed a fairy tale. So through the sweet mess, like Hosea, love each other well. Build each other up. Forgive. Live in a manner that is just. Show love graciously, and love one another with mercy.