We have dear friends here in our community that have a dry cleaning business. One day, while they were over at our house, I casually mentioned that we had never had my wedding dress cleaned. It still had dirt marks all over the edges from my dancing the evening away, joyful at the thought of a new life with my new husband. "I really need to get my act together and get that thing cleaned before Abi gets married," I said. But I didn't take myself seriously and didn't think another thing of it. It hadn't seen the light of day in almost 11 years. My sweet friend texted me not too long after that and offered to get my dress cleaned. What a gracious and thoughtful gift.
They brought it over in a beautiful box, lovingly tied with a bow, with special gloves to put on in case I wanted to touch the dress. This would preserve it from discoloration and keep it special if one of my daughters ever wanted to wear it in their wedding. As I fondly looked at the dress, the memories came flooding back. Our special day, our special love. How fast had 11 years gone, how busy were these years and days. How exhausted and overwhelmed had we become? Love happens, but also life happens.
How quickly we let our marriages get dirty.
I don't mean dirty in a wicked way, but dirty in that we can take it for granted, neglect it a little, care for it less and less, get so preoccupied with some many other stressing things that it can get put on the back burner. It takes a lot of work to maintain and keep up an immaculate marriage garden when you have six very active children with personalities all different from one another. Those sweet faces compete for your attention with every breath you give.
And yet I've been trying to hone in on my wife skills. Like a slap on the face a couple months ago, the Lord hit me with a simple truth: I had stopped being respectful, I had stopped putting my husbands needs above my own, and wait a minute...I was also putting the Lord on the back burner. But I'm a busy mom and I don't stop all day. I just go and go and go. I needed to lay other things down and pick up the one tool in my life I needed the most: for everything. I needed the Lord. I had asked a friend to keep me accountable. "Are you respecting your husband?" "Are you in God's Word daily?"
We need those slaps in the face from the Lord. I needed to get my focus back on the Lord, and I needed to get my focus back on my marriage. And here I was reading every book I could get my hands on about marriage, reading every blog I could read, and this dress gets cleaned!
I'm one of those people who gets directions by landmarks. It's how my brain works. "Turn left at the McDonalds, right at the Giant pine tree, our house is the yellow one with the blue truck in the driveway" I love those kind of directions! Well, this was my landmark to get me back on marriage road. Not just my marriage to my husband, but my marriage to Christ. It was a picture of what was happening in my life as a wife and ultimately as a follower of Jesus: A beautiful white, clean dress! The dust was cleared away, the dirt removed. And something more hit me.... how much more glorious and beautiful will my marriage be in heaven? How is our eternal position with Christ right now? It is spotless, it is clean, white, bright, ravishing, untainted. Christ's blood made that happen on the cross. He can perfect my marriage in His own way and His own time.
I guess I'm here to say that everyone needs to work at their marriage. Wives, sometimes this means shutting your mouth and being respectful even when you don't feel like it. This means serving your husband and showing him you'd go the extra mile just so he feels a little more loved. This means strapping joy to your life, adhering that smile and maybe even putting up your dukes at life's punches and fixing our eyes on the prize. On Christ, on the marriage only Christ can give.
Oh and by the way, we celebrate our 11th anniversary on Saturday!