They sat in a bin in the playroom, untouched. Forgotten. Stripped of their clothing and cast aside, lesser citizens of the vast toy community that is our basement. I considered selling them on Craig’s List, but no… we paid a lot of money for those crazy things.
They’re expensive, right? We moms know this.
Kids, on the other hand, don’t really care.
So for three years after the newness of the Christmas gift wore off and life got buried in homework and karate class and newfangled electronic toys, that valuable stash of Critters remained woefully neglected.
Until one day last week when my daughter’s first grade teacher brought a set of Calico bears to school, a new free-time plaything for the class. And my six-year-old was enchanted.
“Mom, did you know they make hedgehogs? And raccoons??”
“Yes, sweetheart, I believe we own the raccoons. Look in the basement.”
That evening my daughter dragged a full bin of Calico Critters (including raccoons, glory be!) upstairs to the light where she and her big sister proceeded to play with them for hours over the course of the week.
They plotted story lines and built elaborate homesteads.
They dressed tiny puppies in tiny outfits and fed them tiny plastic sandwiches.
They scoured Amazon for any Critters they didn’t already own and began a lengthy wish list.
They discovered fresh excitement over something they’d had all along.
Ever wish you could do that, too?
My husband and I have been married for almost 15 years and sometimes, I confess, we feel more like roommates than love birds. Marriage gets old, right? We get buried in responsibilities, chores, work stress, bills—until life together seems kind of routine or even frustrating. Then if we’re not careful, we can neglect our relationship in favor of some new hobby, some new ambition, or the very needy needs of our children.
Until—just as my daughter’s teacher did—somebody reminds us how fun our old plaything can be.
Last weekend my husband and I attended a friend’s wedding. It was more than beautiful; it was absolutely delightful. This sweet couple’s love for each other was contagious. They stood giddy at the altar, jumping and (literally) dancing for joy when–finally—our pastor pronounced them husband and wife, two became one flesh, and God was glorified.
Now as the older, seasoned married friend, I admit I looked at their eagerness and thought, just wait. That’ll fade. The twelfth time he leaves his socks on the floor and you realize you can’t change him. The moment she no longer giggles when you pat her on the tush and instead bats your hand away because can’t you see she’s trying to wash the dishes here?
Oh yes, don’t I know it all. Marriage is beautiful but it is not built on fun. It’s work!
Well, sure. Everybody knows a good marriage takes effort.
But who says it can’t still be fun?
I watched my sweet friend’s smile stretching across the entire width of her lovely face. I saw her eyes follow her groom, and I saw how he placed his hand like protection, like a blessing, across her back whenever she was near. I heard their laughter. I felt their joy.
And I wanted it for myself.
We been-there/done-that women can all too quickly burst a young one’s bubble. But today I want to reject that notion. I want to suggest that perhaps, rather than thinking we know something young lovers don’t, it’s actually the other way around. Maybe young love knows something we forget. And we could learn it again.
We can look into our husband’s eyes and see the groom.
We can hold his hand and remember what a thrill it is to be loved and cherished.
We can giggle and dance and play.
Why don’t we play enough as we grow old together? Sure, kids enter the picture and demand our time, our energy, our attention and our resources—they are a gift, praise God for our children. But praise God for marriage, too. Marriage came first! Adam and Eve, designed for one another! Marriage was God’s idea; our pastor reminded us of this very truth during his wedding message last weekend. And God’s ideas aren’t just good; they’re awesome.
Do you need some awesome in your life right now? Me, too, sister.
Well guess what. If you’re married, you don’t need to look very far. Your relationship with your husband is the closest you will ever get to experiencing God’s relationship with the church, the Bride of Christ. That’s mighty awesome indeed. It’s our own fault that we’ve stuck this treasure in the basement and let the dust collect. Maybe it’s time to haul it back upstairs and rediscover just how enjoyable marriage can be.
So go on a date. Write your husband a love note. Send the precious kids to Grandma’s while you go mini-golfing or bumper car riding, or whatever it is you used to do back when you were new and giddy in love. Don’t let the burden of years or accumulated mistakes weigh down the gift. You’ve come this far. You’ve persevered. That’s a reason to celebrate. It’s a reason to recommit.
You just might find you really like that old guy after all. He’s worth keeping. For better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, ‘til death do you part.
Marriage is a blessing.
Marriage is a joy.
Marriage can be fun—even when it drives you crazy.
Do you believe it?
Live happily with the woman you love through the fleeting days of life, for the wife God gives you is your best reward down here for all your earthly toil. (Ecclesiastes 9:9, TLB)