Work in progress

Work in progress

This week is our eighth wedding anniversary. Thirteen years dating, eight years married. I can still so clearly remember our first date – Marcel’s frozen yogurt and a walk around the Stellenbosch Botanical Gardens. It feels like yesterday and at the same time somehow feels like an eternity ago. I still have the blonde hair (now with a few extra strands of grey!) and green eyes (now surrounded by many more ‘laugh lines’) but I’m mostly quite a different person to who I was back then. And thirteen years from now, I’ll probably be different to who I am now. You see, we are continuous works in progress. Constantly being moulded and reshaped by our experiences, joys, successes, heartaches and sufferings.

My husband and I have been taking part in a marriage course at our church. Not because we’re unhappily married, but rather as an set time in our week to intentionally spend time focusing on who we are as individuals as part of a unit, as a married couple. The one analogy used was of a big old tree in a large open garden, in good view of passers-by. The woman of the house kept nagging her husband to cut off the bad fruit that kept growing on the tree in hope that new crunchy red apples would soon take their place. This didn’t happen, even when the husband cut off all the soggy brown fruit. The tree was rotten from the inside. Cutting off the bad fruit would not guarantee that fresh, heathy fruit would grow. The branches needed a good prune, the soil in which the tree was rooted needed to be cared for and better nourished.

This is just like us. We can’t expect to be kinder or more patient or more loving if we don’t consciously change anything in our hearts. That’s were it begins. Do we intentionally look at our own hearts, the origin of our thoughts, words and actions, before putting the blame on another? Probably not as often as we should! It’s far easier to have our minds think “I’m ok”, “he’s not ok”. Especially in a marriage.

As hard as it is to find fault with ourselves, it’s part of the process of continuous improvement. And if we’re not identifying the bad fruit and getting our branches pruned and better nourished, then how can we be better at tomorrow than we were at today? It’s the heart changes that cause us to change as the years go on. Bring on the next thirteen years. Here’s to older and wiser, with a lighter, healthy-fruit-bearing heart.

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