“Celebrate always, pray constantly, and give thanks to God no matter what circumstances you find yourself in.( This is God’s will for all of you in Jesus the Anointed .) ” 1 Thessalonians 5:16 -1 8( VOICE ) em>
The best marriage advice I ever received was to stand on a chair and clap . em>
I was 20 years old with a sparkling ring on my finger and shimmering dreamings in my heart. And I was certain my upcoming bridal recognized the beginning of my own happily ever after .
I’d constructed it a habit during my engagement to fulfill frequently with my mentor about desire and life and wedding. We’d huddle together in the back corner of the Student Union, chatting about the challenges of two selfish people becoming one. We’d discussed intimacy and affinity, fighting somewhat and forgiving.
And we prayed. Oh, how we prayed over the wedlock that would soon change my name and my life.
Then, one afternoon, I asked, “What’s your best advice for a happy marriage? ” My mentor cupped her coffee mug and paused. Abruptly, she smiled and looked me straight in the eye.
“Be your husband’s greatest devotee, ” she said. “Find something to celebrate every day, then stand on a chair and applaud out loud for your man.”
She swallowed a laughter and glanced at her own wedding reverberate. “It may sound silly, ” she acknowledged, “but it’s worked for us.”
I laughed and promised to refine my cheerleading skills. And, for a while, I maintained my word.
As a newlywed, I stood on a battered age-old kitchen chair in our tiny white-walled apartment and applauded my humankind with gusto. I applauded when he landed a task delivering pizzas, when he made omelets for breakfast and when he hauled home baskets of clean clothes from the laundromat. I applauded where reference is passed his school quizs and when he secured our leaky faucet.
But I wasn’t the only cheerleader in our little family.
My husband clambered on chairs, too. He praised when I made a batch of un-burnt brownies. He cheered when I survived my first day of student teaching. And he whooped and called when I got my first article published in the local newspaper. My man rooted for me when the countries of the world seemed silent, and his applauds drowned out my own internal critic’s noisy clanging.
Time passed, seasons changed and eventually those hands that had clapped with unabashed abandon became fitted with children, bills, nappies and the daily grind. And one morning, five kids and 10 years after I’d promised to be my husband’s greatest devotee, I awoke to the hopeless shush of a weary heart.
I watched a sweet older couple strolling hand-in-hand through the park as I sat in the sandbox with my little ones, and wondered how anyone could maintain love’s flame alight for a lifetime. I was only a decade into matrimony and some days, I felt like the spark in my heart was waning dim.
That night, while my husband operated late, I complained to the Lord about the sorry state of my wedlock. As the moonlight cast silver shadows on the unclean living room floor, God whispered, “When was the last time you applauded for your spouse? ”
I’d rooted for my son when he’d caught a fly ball at his baseball game. I’d clapped for two daughters when she’d made it across the monkey bars. And I’d cheered for my toddler when he’d eat all of his peas.
But I couldn’t remember the last day I’d applauded my husband for anything .
The image of a beat-up kitchen chair flashed through my thinker, and hot tears filled my tired eyes. I dropped to my knees with a tidal wave of belief flooding my heart and an earnest prayer spilling from my lips, “Dear Jesus, show me how to become my husband’s greatest devotee once again.”
In today’s key poems, the Apostle Paul doesn’t mention standing on chairs or clapping our hands, but he does command us to celebrate always …
Not just when we feel like it. Always .
This kind of gala isn’t a well-planned party or inspired whimsy; this kind of gala is a selection . It’s a deliberate barrage against ingratitude, a calculated attack on apathy.
To celebrate our spouse always signifies looking for what’s right rather than bemoaning what’s wrong. We focus on hope rather than wallow in letdown; we acknowledge extraordinary grace in life’s ordinary grit.
To celebrate < em> ever is a daily decision to fan the flames of adoration in every season of the soul…’til demise do us part.
Standing on furniture and clapping loudly is optional, but wallowing in good times and bad is not. Of course, if I were you, I’d practice a few spunky moves when nobody’s looking.
’Cause after 22 years of sacred matrimony, I’ve learned that cheerleading may be hard on my kitchen chairs, but it’s good for my wedding!
Dear God, I want to be my husband’s greatest devotee. Grow in me a grateful heart and teach me how to celebrate my marriage in all circumstances. In Jesus’ Name, Amen . em>