Scaffolding

10 08 2011

A house is a major investment. Before you buy, you pray and ask God if this is a commitment you’re ready to make. You count the cost to be sure you can really afford to do this. Then you apply for a loan, scrape together a down payment, sign and initial a stack of papers, and finally, it’s all yours.

You move in, unpack boxes, arrange furniture, and stock cabinets. You hang pictures and select drapes. And you add all the loving little touches inside and out that make a house a home.

You stand back and smile. You love this house. You really do. The rooms are filled with laughter. The kitchen with tempting aromas. The time around the table with rich conversation. Labor is meaningful and rest is sweet. You sing as you sweep the floors, and you happily dust the blinds on all forty-eight windows.

But after a while the dusting gets old. Who needs forty-eight windows anyway? You stop enjoying the various nuances of light and view and start begrudging the work. Charms become flaws. That creaky place in the floorboard that you used to think was quaint is now simply . . . creaky.

Laughter turns to bitterness. Conversation to quarreling.

And outside, the wind and rain beat against this house and the sun bakes it. Paint fades then chips. And you realize your love has grown cold.

You have a choice to make.

Move on. Or fix it.

Marriage is a lot like a house. We may have prayed for guidance, counted the cost, and truly intended to keep all our commitments before we plunged in, but after a while the stars in our eyes grow dim.

We forget what charmed us about this person, and see only his flaws. Instead of thinking of creative ways to bring him delight, we obsess about his annoying habits. The way he chews his food or bites his nails or leaves shaving cream in the sink. We wish he would do this and wouldn’t do that, and the wind and rain beat against this marriage, and it teeters.

Again, we have a choice.

Of course, people who decide to move on usually realize that the next house eventually loses its charm, too. And no matter where you live, dust gathers and maintenance takes work, and there are some hard-to-reach spots that require attention.

If you’re going to do this right, you’ll need scaffolding.

And not any scaffolding will do. It needs to be unshakable and firm. And, yes, merely assembling it and climbing on takes a lot of courage and hard work. But once you’re there, you can lean all your weight into the task at hand.

So, what are the scaffolding components needed to build and maintain a weather-proof marriage?

The Word of God as foundation.
Prayer as framework.
And the planks?

Honesty. Communication. Affection. Kindness. Confession. Trust. Gratitude.

These are solid, sturdy, and sure to hold fast. And then there are two other planks I know I couldn’t live without.

Have you ever been to a wedding, and somewhere on a little table there’s a basket and a bunch of note cards, and married couples are encouraged to leave a word of wisdom or advice for the newlyweds? Yeah, me, too. And I almost always write the same thing:

Laugh often, and forgive immediately.

Because laughter is the music that reminds us not to take ourselves too seriously. It’s the soundtrack that reminds us life is an adventure, not a series of unfortunate events.

And forgiveness? If we forgive immediately — if we refuse to entertain self-pity or accusing thoughts and choose rather to remember how very much we’ve been forgiven and how very much we daily, hourly, moment-by-moment need God’s mercy, we’ll receive power to look past the dust and the fading paint.

If we choose to love like God loved us — while we were yet sinners — we’ll begin to see once again the charms that made us fall in love with this man in the first place. We’ll again delight to add all the tender little touches inside and out that make a marriage a home.


You love this house. You really do. The rooms are filled with laughter. The kitchen with tempting aromas. The time around the table with rich conversation. Labor is meaningful and rest is sweet. You sing as you sweep the floors, and you happily dust the blinds on all forty-eight windows. And then you stand back and smile.

Let the storms come. You laugh at storms. You’ve built this house on a rock.

And your scaffolding is strong.


P.S. George is painting this house — our home for almost 20 years — in preparation to sell it soon. This is where we raised our children, where our world collapsed, and where God took our brokenness and created unspeakable beauty. If you know of anyone who might like to buy a charming and treasured East Texas home that has been filled with life and love,  friendship and faith, music, laughter, and dancing, send them our way.


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13 responses

10 08 2011
Glynn

In about four weeks, our lives are going to be turned upside down. Yes, we are remodeling the kitchen. Not just remodeling, but totally gutting it. Sometimes, you just have to tear things out and start all over.

10 08 2011
Lisa McLean

Thanks, Jeanne. My husband’s day will be brighter because I read this, hee.

10 08 2011
HisFireFly

Beautiful truth!
Lord, renovate what You will, help us surrender and trust Your hand.

10 08 2011
Sharon O

Beautiful writing and home too. Don’t think I will be moving to Texas but if I was going to that would be a wonderful ‘loved’ in home to purchase. Praying for success in your plans.

10 08 2011
Alyssa Santos

Love love the analogy and the truth here!

10 08 2011
Jennifer@GDWJ

Laugh often, forgive immediately.

That is so good. You know what? The way you live those words? It shows in your countenance. You have a special gift … a way of seeing things the way that God intended. And I thank you for sharing that vision with us here in this place. You are somethin’ special, lady.

10 08 2011
lifeinlimits

Absolutely BEAUTIFUL! Thank you SO much for putting the time and thought into this post. LOVE. IT.

10 08 2011
Nancy Franson (@nancyfranson)

Lovely. Just lovely. Just celebrated 27 years, and am truly grateful for room filled with laughter.

11 08 2011
Simply Darlene

Wow. How convicting and timely is this? We just had our 17th marriage anniversary last weekend. I was full of all sorts of yucky things like resentment, frustration, bitterness, etc. Even though I was ill, I could have been a bit gentler and nicer and kinder.

Thanks for this.

Blessings.

12 08 2011
Sandra Heska King

“Charms become flaws.” Ouch. Living in a 150-plus-year old farmhouse for over 20 years (wow–we moved 8 times prior to that), and after 40 years of marriage, I so get this! Without the scaffolding, everything would fall apart.

Love, love, love how you pulled all this together with the beauty and grace you always do!

12 08 2011
Daniel Farrow

Jeanne. I forget where I read this quote, but I was immediately reminded of it when I read this post. “In the midst of a conflict, he who forgives first wins.” I’m 35 years old and still awaiting the day when the Lord sends my bride to me, and yet I’m so grateful that the Lord’s mercy has kept me single long enough to learn these truths. Thank you again for sharing so much that the Lord has given you.

14 08 2011
Scaffolding (via The View From Here) | My Blog

[…] I loved this article, blog, and the photos you included… I had just received a very interesting “word from the Lord” through a dear friend about “scaffolding” around me, around my life. Amazing His timing! Thank you. A house is a major investment. Before you buy, you pray and ask God if this is a commitment you're ready to make. You count the cost to be sure you can really afford to do this. Then you apply for a loan, scrape together a down payment, sign and initial a stack of papers, and finally, it's all yours. You move in, unpack boxes, arrange furniture, and stock cabinets. You hang pictures and select drapes. And you add all the loving little touches ins … Read More […]

17 08 2011
Deborah Carr

I do believe that the spirit and strength of your hours, your joys and sorrows and faith, will remain in these walls, a gift for the new people who make their home there. Enjoy these bittersweet days, as you pack up your memories and belongings and prepare to leave these tender walls behind.

Your comments are a gift. Please know I read each one with gratitude.

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