Five Golden Rings

“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.” – Alexander Pope

 Expectation -a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future.

In 1995 when I married the Executive, I knew that I was marrying into what would become a blended family – two step children and one of my own. It would be mine, his and eventually ours. My expectations were that the marriage would be stronger than both of our divorced parents, I was going to be the loving wife, work hard to keep a nice home and job, the step kids wouldn’t have to call me mom, but learn to call me friend (Ps 125:3-5), and that in the end we would have a Brady Bunch life. Not so much.

My expectations were squashed by apathy from the step kids, name calling and manipulation from my husband’s ex-wife, the repeated trips to the courthouse for revisions of visitation and child support, all compounded with snide remarks every other weekend tempered with hostility from my son’s father. We tried to stay involved and active in all of our kids’ lives, provide an open door place of respite for them to come to, and give them a model of how a Christian family functioned. It was a struggle as I dealt with my failings of not making the blended family model work.

This feeling was exacerbated by the failed expectation I had of my husband as well. If living with someone for the first time wasn’t hard enough, I expected him to be the knight in shining armor who always came to my rescue when the ex reared her ugly head or the kids shot off hurtful remarks. I expected him to fix all that was wrong. (In my mind, 2/3 of the problem was his.) Most times he was silent where I wanted rant and lash out. From him, crickets.  I saw this as weakness, but since learned it’s not. The silence ended any ongoing dialogue because he didn’t contribute to the “conversation”. He literally took the fuel out of the fire, except of course when it came to my son. There were so many arguments in which I was refereeing or acting as my son’s attorney, as the Executive worked hard to be the father, life coach and disciplinarian my son desperately needed.

It didn’t get any better when our daughter was born. Jealousy was the new foe in and around our house.

Not surprising that I got angry or actually, angrier yet tight lipped as I seethed internally. Angry that my expectations of our life together was less than charming – actually it was chaos. I found myself repeatedly praying for the days when we didn’t have to report to the exes and the kids were out on their own. Yes, that was my prayer because this was not supposed to be my life. Didn’t God see what a hurtful mess my family was?

I didn’t realize how much pain I was in until one particular weekend when my husband and I went shopping for my birthday. We picked out a beautiful ring. When we got home, I immediately slipped off of my wedding set and proceeded to wear this ring as my replacement wedding ring – a protest of my displeasure with my marriage, my life and God. It remained that way for the next 12 years. Yes, for 12 years my wedding ring was in the jewelry box shrouded under hurt, broken expectations and crushed dreams. That was until recently when I found myself unemotional, detached and depressed.  I asked God to show me what was wrong and second, to change my heart as I felt my relationship with Him slipping away. As a Christian,  I was the bride of Christ and certainly wasn’t acting like it. In essence, I chose not to honor God by not honoring my husband all because of our familial shortcomings. I allowed the enemy to take hold of my mind which made me feel victimized by the family God had blessed me with.

You see, it’s no accident that this family was put together the way it was in all of its messiness. The kids needed the strength of a godly father figure that could emulate God’s love for His children. A mother who could model the character of Jesus through acts of serving, loving and hospitality (although sometimes it was begrudgingly). My expectation was perfection or something close to it. God’s plan was to take this sad, broken family in need of Him and use it to show other broken and failed marriages His love and restorative power. The marriage was far from one of fairy tales and glamour. Like any relationship worth having, it took and continues to take work with a recognizable foundation in God, the one we chose to build our life upon.

The path to healing had to start by asking God’s forgiveness and then my husband’s. I needed him to know that despite our best attempts at parenting through the high waters of dysfunction, I am flawed and many times, undeserving of the abundant love I receive. It’s that love and respect I’m given by the Executive, that is as beautiful as the wedding ring set that once again shines on my hand. We’re still not perfect, my only expectation going forward is knowing that God has me (us) in His hand and it’s His to do as He pleases. (Jer 29:11) So what expectations do you have?

Until next time, stay chic

Vicki

Ps 125:3-5 (NIV) Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.

Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV) For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

1 Cor 13:4-7 (NIV) Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Col 3:13 (NIV) Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you have a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

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