One True Fragrance (in Marriage)

roses

Roses. I do like roses and their fragrance.

‘Especially on our anniversary, my birthday, on Mother’s day, or any other time in-between. Especially other special times, like the births of our babies – I like roses.

I used to tell folks that when I wanted a dozen roses, all I had to do was have another baby.

While it’s true that roses were waiting for me six times over when I got back to my hospital room from Labor and Delivery, it’s also true that I don’t get roses for every birthday, every anniversary, or every Mother’s day. Just sometimes, and sometimes in-between.

After all these years, he continues to splurge. He keeps saying that he doesn’t know how much longer we’ll have each other and he wants to have no regrets, so I’ve quit fussing about the cost.

roses

You know what makes the roses so special? 

The fact that, on any other day when there are no roses, my man is in my corner. Any other day when I’m unkempt and the house is a mess, he helps pick up the pieces and puts me back together again.

Any other day when there is no wafting fragrance in the house, he becomes the fragrance by serving me, again.

The man’s rather imperfect, and no one knows it better than I.  But then, so is his wife. Imagine that. He can verify that, but he won’t broadcast that because, he says, we are one. To speak negatively of me is speaking negatively about himself because we are on the same team. Even so, in a world of strife where so many marriages have dissolved or  are falling apart, we are blessed.

Like so many other marriages, ours could simply be a statistic.

It’s not that we’re so smart or so special. It’s that God – and the way He tells us to do marriage – is.

When you go to God for help, when you really seek for wisdom, when you truly apply what you know to do even when you don’t feel like it,  you  will find that marriage can be done well.

There have been days when I’ve stormed the gates of Heaven, asking God to show me how to understand and love this man. Every time I have asked, He has given me answers.  ‘Not that I always liked the answers or felt like following the directions, mind you. But every time I’ve asked for wisdom, He has given what I needed. ‘Trouble is that sometimes we just don’t bother to ask or we just don’t really don’t want to know.

Our marriage bed is not an array of roses minus thorns.

It’s a fragrance that comes when the petals are crushed as  becomes us.

It’s a fragrance that comes when making love is not so much about “everything is perfect and we’ve got it all together” as it is about “even though we are frustrated with each other, we are still committed to each other; so tonight making love to you is a great way to emphasize that commitment.”

I always thought I’d want a summer wedding, but that didn’t happen. Does that matter now? Not at all. That’s how it is with marriage. The things on the “must have” list, many times, are no longer important and really weren’t that important in the first place. What really matters is commitment.

I figure some folks are tired of hearing me say that, but it’s true. If more people truly believed it, there would be fewer marriages floundering by the wayside.

In a small town in western Maryland over thirty-two years ago, in the church where my parents were married many years before, we tied the knot. Amid freshly-fallen snow, family, and friends, we celebrated. With flowers, music, family – and with God – we were wed.

Life happened, and now our kids are grown and mostly on their own. Life happened, and it is still happening. As life happens, we still celebrate. I still enjoy roses and their perfume. Most especially, I enjoy the fragrance of commitment.

Most especially, we continue to celebrate the greatest fragrance of all: the true faithfulness of God.

pinterest fragrance

Life is Short. Fidelity is Sweet.

fidelity pomeg and grapes

The pomegranates I brought to the kids’ class I teach on Wednesday evenings were a fascination all evening long.

The kids had never seen this fruit, and they wanted to touch and handle the pomegranates.  They kept asking me about “those things” during the entire lesson.

I had also brought grapes, but they weren’t interested in grapes.

Because I made them wait until the end of the story, they were especially intrigued about this new (to them) fruit.

You know the story about the spies who went into Jericho and came back with tales of the fruit inside that walled city of Jericho.  They brought back pomegranates and grapes, among other things.

fidelity black currants

After the story, we sliced the pomegranates.  I allowed the kids to enjoy this fruit.  They had so much fun!

Surprising to me, the part they liked the best was the seeds.

“You don’t eat the seed!” an adult corrected me after class.

“Oh, but we do,” I countered.  “There’s not a thing wrong with the seed, and who cares if nobody else eats them?  If they like the seed and want to enjoy it, why shouldn’t they?”

The kids went home with memories of pomegranates and were completely unaware that some people don’t eat the seeds.

They went home with pomegranate stains on their clothes and fingers, as well as instructions on how to get their clothes clean. (Boiling hot water poured over the stain takes out fruit stains, in case you didn’t know.)

I think from here on out when the kids hear about or see pomegranates, they will remember their first experience with this fruit.  The memory of getting to try something new without restrictions, of tasting something different, and experiencing a texture they’d never had before will stay with them.

I think they will also remember how waiting to sample the fruit made it even sweeter.

For them, there was no guilt in touching, tasting, and sampling.  That’s because I gave them free reign to do whatever they wanted with the fruit as long as they treated it with respect and with care.

fidelity hat

The Garden of Fidelity is plush with fresh, fragrant, delightful fruit.   It’s wonderful to touch, to taste, and to sample.  God planned it to be just this way.

fidelity doves

 

Marriage (including sex) was God’s idea.  ‘Strange how often society would have us believe otherwise!  God said marriage is honorable among all, and the bed (garden) is undefiled.

fidelity bot garden mountain

When there is a garden that belongs to you and you alone, there is no reason to scour other gardens. When all the fruit we desire is ours, there is no reason to sample fruits from forbidden places, or to peek over the fence into territory that is not ours to claim.  Why should I care about what happens in someone else’s garden when I have my own to enjoy?

Yet there’s something about forbidden fruit that draws us, daring us to taste and touch what is not ours to have.  The temptation is as old as the garden itself, for the first family experienced this in the Eden garden that had been given to them by God Himself.

botanical tropical fruit

All the fruits, trees, plants, and flowers were theirs to enjoy but one.

All of them – but one.

And that was the one Eve thought she had to sample.

With a bounty such as God only can create, He filled the garden with good things – and plentiful things – for them to enjoy!

fidelity red and purple botanical

 

Variety and spice and color.

fidelity purple flower green spikes

Fragrance and texture and flavor.

fidelity lambs ear texture

All of it was theirs – but one.

Yet that was the one they wanted.

Did they want it because it wasn’t theirs to have, because they weren’t satisfied with what God had provided, or because they wanted to try something different?

Or was it really the fault of the serpent who caused Eve to question the goodness of God in giving them an entire paradise full of fragrance, taste, and texture?

I find myself wondering:  if this tree had been permitted, how much would they really have desired this particular one?  How many other trees had they not yet tasted?!

fidelity botanical

I’m just like Eve.  We are all like Eve (or her Adam).

Which of us at some point has wished for the toy that another child has, for the car that somebody else gets to drive, for the promotion that slipped us by, for the boyfriend a friend has, for parents that belong to other kids, or for a spouse that is as kind as someone else’s?

That is why there are sexual sins and sexual crimes today.

We want what is not ours to have.

We think we have a right to be happy.

We think we deserve to get what we want.

We think of ourselves instead of others.

We shudder in horror (and rightly so) at the things people do and the places people go.  We decry the downfall of our society and the pain that is ravaging families because of unfaithfulness and diseases.  We surely ought to shudder and we ought to denounce loudly!

We ought to also, I think, commend those who believe in and practice the sweetness of Fidelity.

fidelity wood pink flower

There are those who choose to enjoy the garden that is theirs and refuse to wander into gardens that are not theirs to harvest.  There are those who wait to open their garden gate until their marriage vows have been said.  They know how sweet fidelity is because they live it.

Every day.

Life is short.  Faithful folks make fidelity sweet.

Can there be anything sweeter than to walk into your own garden and know that no one else has ever been there?

fidelity plum tree

To touch and savor the fruit of the vine that no one else has ever touched?  To know that no one else has ever seen or handled what is behind the gate of your garden?

There are still folks who save themselves for marriage.  There are still people who are able to give their virginity to their spouse on their wedding night.

In a world of lust and pornography, of infidelity and scandal, can anything be sweeter than to know your spouse has been faithful to you alone, and to know that you have kept your vows as well?

fidelity wedding dress pants

It still happens.

Can anything else be sweeter than having no regrets?fidelity white pink rose petals

There is still fidelity in the world.  The world over, there are couples who keep their vows.

For better, for worse.
For richer, for poorer.
In sickness and in health.
For thirty, and forty, and fifty years.
For sixty and seventy years.

There are men and women who keep faithful to their vows.

It still happens.

Pomegranates and grapes.   The Garden of Fidelity is ripe with sweet, fragrant, delicate fruit.  No matter how many years the marriage, the fruit keeps ripening and new shoots keep sprouting as lovers learn more about each other and keep on giving to each other.

fidelity summer still life table

They keep on giving in bad times as well as in the good times.  They keep being faithful in sickness and loss of health.  They keep taking care of each other as long as they can.

They can choose to eat the seed or just the fruit.  It doesn’t matter because it’s their garden, and nobody else has a right to know.

Enjoy the nectar and the seeds.  Enjoy the pulp and the juice.  Enjoy it because it is yours as husband and wife.

How can anything else be sweeter?

Life is short.  Fidelity is rich.  And oh, is it ever sweet!

fidelity rose dewdrop

I realize that, for some of you, reading this might cause pain from past regrets.   What is so amazing about Grace is that God forgives and He forgets.  He also brings restoration, allowing us to begin a new chapter where there is no stain from our past.  Whether your redemption occured in the past or very recently, you can be assured that He wants you to enjoy the fragrance and beauty  of your garden from that moment forward with no regrets.   That’s what is so wonderful – and amazing – about Grace.