Marriage: From Googly Goggles to Grace Goggles

Eleven years ago I was packing up my first classroom and my first big girl apartment in Lexington, Kentucky walking into a week which had the words my wedding marking the end of the of the week on the desktop calendar in my fifth grade classroom as well as the calendar stuck to the refrigerator in my apartment kitchen.

I didn’t know it then but I was so googly-eyed for Michael Craddock when I think about that week. Googly-goggles blurring my vision and masking all of my soon to be husband’s flaws. It was my infatuation with Michael Craddock and my googly-goggles that carried us from dating to engagement and finally to the altar, from first date to I do for forever in a little over nine months. Blinded to Michael Craddock’s humanity by my googly-goggles.

What I know now is googly-goggles, infatuation and human effort are certainly fleeting. Humanity, flaws, imperfections and missteps are as much apart of Michael Craddock as they are to every human. Humanity and imperfections are so apart of my own self.

There will always be tension between two imperfect humans living seasons and lifetimes alongside one another but when the goggly-goggles no longer mask human imperfection, in Christ-centered marriage, God provides spiritual goggles of grace, the goggles of true righteousness and holiness made after the likeness of Christ. The goggles of grace which enable me to see my spouse as the way God sees him. Human, imperfect and flawed, but at the same time seen and deeply loved.

Goggles of grace which are spiritually blinding to imperfection in contrast fleeting human effort, infatuation and goggly-goggles.

The goggles of grace help me see my spouse not with the worldly magnifying glass which maximizes things the world defines as imperfect. Goggles of grace enable me to see the unseen, to see a transformation happening beneath the surface-inwardly my spouse is being made new day by day and I have the privilege of sitting in the front row to experience this transformative growth and change.

“When your ears hear and your eyes see the sin, weakness, or failure of your husband or wife, it is never an accident; it is always grace. God loves  your spouse, and he is committed to transforming him or her by his grace, and he has chosen you to be one of his regular tools of change.” Paul David Tripp, What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage

After I will and I do for eleven years, four thousand and fifteen days and what feels like forty thousand diapers, I desire to be the kind of wife who chooses to put on the goggles of grace. To put off the worldly pattern of loving out of infatuation and loving only off of the high of the feeling of love. To let the worldly and fleeting pattern unravel away. I desire to be renewed in my mind with the ways of God and put on the goggles of grace, made after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24) I do not choose goggles of grace in every moment, I have so much unraveling to do, but I know God is not finished with me yet.

Googly-goggles may have gotten us to the altar, but it is only grace goggles which will enable us to walk through the rest of our days here on earth alongside one another.

Marriage needs the constant balming of grace and I am thankful to be on the journey alongside my husband as little by little God is redeeming the both of us in marriage and making us both new not because of what we do but because of who He is.

Yes, outwardly we are wasting away but inwardly we are being renewed day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:16)

photo by Bumblebee Photography

when there isn’t much to say

Last night we sat in a booth adjacent to the high-topped bar table in the restaurant where we sat eleven years ago on the night when we were engaged.

Then we were both getting to know each other and there were words, abundant words. Words about my job working with at-risk children in the public schools, words about your job in graphic design, words about our future, our dreams, our future children, our current ministries, our future ministry. Abundant words.

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But last night, eleven years and what feels like a lifetime from a season of dreams, getting to know yous and abundant words– I feared I wouldn’t have much to say to you sitting in the vinyl booth across the table from you on our date.

As I scrambled around the house picking up stray socks and then as I bathed our four children, scrubbed their heads and toweled them off I tried to think of interesting things to tell you.

We had just been out a few nights before so my well of what-to-says seemed dry.

All I could think of was how today as I reached behind the toilet to shut off the water in hopes of keeping the guest bathroom toilet from overflowing, my hair dipped into the toilet water but other than that it was another day of making breakfast, bus stops, volunteering at school then making and cleaning up another meal. All I could think of was the mundane. The wiping of crumbs and the tips of my freshly highlighted hair in toilet water.

And in my fear I worried that you would think I was much less interesting as I had little to say to you from across that booth in that same restaurant where we sat on the night we were engaged over a decade ago.

I thought about how I have little to report, how my mid-section is so much softer (and my rear end section too).

My past reminds me of the times when I have no longer been interesting, I became disposable to people. Replaceable. Leaveable. Forgettable. My demons don’t ever forget this and remind me of the times when there isn’t much to say it’s easier for people to toss me away. In fear, my demons are loud. The foundation of fear is fragile. It’s built on past hurts and tender places. And as I walked around my house in fear yesterday the demons grew and they grew and they grew.

My fear is a breeding ground for my demons to remind me I am not enough.

I fear these dates when there isn’t much to say. When I don’t have inspiring words. When I didn’t do anything to change the world. When the season is mundane. When I’m just a girl in front of you with a softer mid-section and my well of abundant words is dry.

We know marriage is work. We have been through that season.

We know our marriage has been in the convection oven of seminary, ministry, four kids in four years and a senior pastorate. We know it is important to date one another. To not talk about kids or work. To laugh, be light, put down our phones and be present. We have been through that season too–of fighting and wading through time to see one another.

But last night as we sat there in that booth I felt a new unchartered season. A season where I feel uninteresting and mundane. A season where there is not much to say. A season where I am just doing the same thing every day, over and over again. A season of mundane.

But today, as I prepared for a lesson on marriage with my small group– how God designs two people in marriage to be committed to one another, even in the mundane, when there isn’t much to say.

God says, we are loved not because of what we do but because of who we are. And marriage is the same. In marriage you vowed to love me in the mundane because you don’t just see me, a girl in a hard, uninteresting season. You see me, a girl who God is not finished with yet. You see me not because of the things I have to say or what tasks I have conquered that day. You see me and you love me because you committed to do that. In the mundane, until death do us part.

You see me as enough because Christ is more than enough. For you, for me, for us.

I remembered how you sat there with me in the mundane last night. Across from me. The same way you did eleven years ago.

Eleven years ago I would have never told you my fears. But last night I told you I was afraid I didn’t have much to say tonight when you asked me about my day. And you still sat with me. You still loved me in the fears and the mundane and you filled the spaces with conversation when you could and when I couldn’t really do my share I filled my softening mid-section with pasta.

And it was lovely. It was lovely to sit there and not have much to say. To speak fears, to be somewhat silent and lacking words and softening in the mid-section by more mouthfuls of pasta and still be loved.

To be fully known, even on the boring days when there isn’t much to stay and have someone to love you for just being ordinary. This is marriage. This is life. This is choosing to love when it’s nothing but toilet water hair.

When I gazed past you towards the other side of the restaurant I could see that high-topped table. I can remember eleven years ago and picture us there. I can remember having too much wine that night and talking a mile a minute, arms likely flailing, a heart bubbling over with excitement. You laughing at my every word.

And I am thankful for the seasons of dating. The seasons of plenty and want. I am thankful for us then, and thankful for the mundane now. I am thankful you will still chose I do when there isn’t much to say.

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Everything Smells Like Pee

A few months ago I spent an entire day scrubbing baseboards, cleaning walls, floors and bathrooms. One of our family favorite dinners was roasting in the oven I even had left a Kitchen Spice Yankee Candle burning out the counter, all before my husband walked through the door at 5pm. It was a glorious day as conquering dirt demons brings me deep pleasure and abundant joy. But when my husband came through the door, casually and unassumingly he commented, does it smell like urine in here?

And more recently I had one of those days when I walked around my house tidying as usual. Specifically paying attention to the bathrooms as I like to do on the day the garbage makes the journey from the backyard down to the street and then across town to the dump.

But I only became increasingly more frustrated as I tidied. All four of my bathrooms had just been comet-cleaned by my husband just four days before my quick garbage night swoop through them but yet the smell of pee was everywhere. Pee left in the basement toilet (for seriously a disgusting amount of time) from non-flushers, pee on the carpet from our joyful new four-legged friend, pee around the back of the toilets on the floor from bad aiming soldiers and pee in the laundry from tiny accidents from a girl I know.

And as I became more annoyed with the overwhelming pungent smell of urine surrounding my semi-put together home I decided: everything smells like pee and I quit. I quit, quit, quit.

I truly thought potty training four kids would rid our house of the smell of pee pee. But as I walk in a new season of six people toileting in my home, I’m thinking the smell of pee pee is here to stay, at least until my little soldiers move on to the next chapter in their lives.

I could scrub everyday and try to return my bathrooms to the sparkling clean they once were in a world before four kids and a dog.

Or I could breathe (not through the nostrils and not too deeply or course) and accept, everything smells like pee. And that brings to freedom to stop. To quit. To try to enjoy this new season of six people sharing bathrooms.

I quit trying to restore life to what it once was before kids. I quit over working myself to bring the porcelain in my home to pristine perfection. I can accept us, our family, as we are, living life together making pungent messes and I can confidently walk in a season of life with four kids, a dog, and pee-pee crusted toilets.

This is where we are. There will be pee. And yes husband, our house does smell like urine.

I hope if you get to come over you will accept us too. Because everything here smells like pee and I just quit fighting the battles I can’t win.

The Words Of A Father

I’m not sure if he knows it but every night while I am gathering the last things my family needs at the dinner table, I catch my husband lean over and whisper to our oldest son, Tell your mother, thank you for dinner. 

I then see my husband take a bite of his dinner, no matter what I put in front of him and say, Wow, this is so good. 

I know I am not a great cook. I actually don’t even like cooking at all. I follow recipes exactly adding no creativity and I barely know the difference between paprika and cayenne.

But every night. Without fail. Even when the chicken is dry or the vegetables are too soggy. My husband compliments my food and encourages my sons to do so as well by intentionally modeling kindness.

Just last night we had to start dinner without my husband because he was running a little behind and as my children began to eat I noticed my oldest son lean over and say to my second-born, blonde-headed boy, Tell mom, thank you for dinner. 

And then as my second son was reluctant to take a bite, my oldest son said, Wow mommy, this is so good. Everyone should really try this, this is the best dinner ever. 

I was both shocked and thankful to hear my seven year old doing this, passing the intentional words his father taught him on to his brothers.

It made me proud of the man I am married to and the little soon-to-be men around my dinner table.

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Being a father matters. The words which cross a father’s lips are powerful. They can be used to build up or used tear down.

As I see my husband’s words of kindness and gratitude being passed on to my sons, I am witnessing the magnitude in which children respond to the gentle and kind leadership of a father.  A father’s words and actions are meaningful and powerful. They can be life-giving and life-changing.

I hear my husband’s heartfelt prayers he has prayed over the beds of our children for almost seven years now being echoed with the same amount of compassion by my three sons. I hear my sons cheering and talking about University of Kentucky basketball with the same level of excitement as their dad and I hear my sons esteeming me, as their mother because their daddy is intentional about modeling it for them.

I am not at all the best cook, this I know, but when I see my husband teaching my sons to say thank you for dinner, I feel loved and I see my husband intentionally raising boys to be good men and good husbands.

This is an incredible undeserved gift my husband gives to me daily, the gift of intentional and loving words in front of our children. This gift makes me want to follow in his footsteps the same way my kids do and spread more intentional kindness with my own words.

The kind, intentional words of a father or mother can change a person.

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I am forever thankful that God has given these men to me. Every day with them is a gift.

If You Think You May Have Married A Crazy Person

I know it crossed my husband’s mind a time or (let’s be honest) a dozen times when we were first married. I know in our first months of matrimony he looked at me more than once like he did not even know me at all.

The first time was perhaps when we were fighting about something really good like how long an unused glass should sit on the countertop. My husband would say an empty glass could sit on the countertop and be refilled again for further hydration purposes throughout the day and I am more of a “as soon as it hits the countertop I am swooping it into the dishwasher” kind of gal.

One of these first fights had us both pretty heated as we were both just learning the dance of communication in marriage.

Literally while I was firmly speaking about all the times he had left his glass out with hands going in all directions my sweet husband sat down on the couch opened his Bible and motioned me to sit next to him. He started reading the scriptures to me and I think my head started spinning like the exorcist lady.

I gave my husband my evilest of teacher looks and I growled, “YOU GET THAT BIBLE AWAY FROM ME.”

Call me a horrible Christian or call me human but I did not want to hear the Word of God in that moment.

This may have been the first little appetizer of my insanity and the first time my husband may have thought he married, for better or for worse, a crazy person.

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The soup and salad course of this dazzling crazy person meal would probably have been the time he brought a buddy home after seminary class while I was at work without telling me. When he brought me home that afternoon and mentioned the great time he had I FREAKED OUT because I had not cleaned the toilets that morning.

The entree was most likely when I had my new husband take me to the emergency room because I believed I was having a heart attack. I was twenty-two and generally in good health but on the way to the hospital I was panicking about quadruple-bypasses.

The dessert course was most likely the other argument we had about glasses on the counter and he asked me if we could pray about it and I said “Sure, you pray out here in the living room and I will pray in the bedroom.” And I fell asleep instead of praying.

And this was really me.

I was really married to my husband and I was struggling to believe truth, hear truth and walk in truth.

And I was really hurting.

BUT

My husband loved me though it.

He may be the only person that has truly seen me in the worst of times, the craziest of times, and loved me through the crazy.

And at times our marriage has felt like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride but my husband has fastened his seatbelt and committed not to unbuckle and bail when the bumps and hiccups feel like something he didn’t sign up for.

“Human sin is stubborn,” says Cornelius Plantinga, “but not as stubborn as the grace of God and not half so persistent, not half so ready to suffer to win its way.”3 Stubborn, persistent, unrelenting grace that changes us. Now that’s good news indeed.”
― Dave Harvey, When Sinners Say “I Do”

The beautiful thing about a marriage founded in the gospel is Michael and I both are not committed to the person who we see sitting in front of us right now in this present moment. As husband and wife, we are committed to the wretched mess being sanctified only because of the power of God working in us. And we believe that God isn’t finished with us yet but working in us until we reach our full potential and beauty.

So if you are in a Christian marriage and you are contemplating whether or not you married a crazy person…

Cling to the truth that the icing on that cake is coming and one day, God will perfect us with all the endless truth and beauty freely offered on Christ.

“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”
― Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage

He is able to redeem the crazy person and give the crazy person the gift of grace of being known and loved.

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