I remember sitting in my bed a few years ago feeling especially blue. I can’t recall what was wrong, only that I was discouraged. As I prayed, I began to jot down all the major challenges and blessings my husband and I had faced beginning with our first year of marriage. What I found surprised me.
In our first year of marriage, we were about $5 away from destitution (challenge) but swimming in friendships (blessing). In our second year, I graduated from undergrad, got a job, and we moved so my husband could go to graduate school. Suddenly, we had a double-income and could go to the grocery store and buy both milk and toilet paper. Happy day! We were saving money, and actually had an entertainment budget…only there was no one to entertain. We were completely friendless. Year three, it appears, was our golden year. We moved into married housing, landed a plethora of friendships, still had that double-income, and (surprise!) discovered a baby was on the way. Enter, year four: the year of the juggling act. Between the two of us, my husband and I were managing two jobs, seminary classes, a new baby, and a busy youth ministry. We fell from the golden year straight into the compost pile, a fall that caused us to kiss the double-income good-bye in year five for the sake of our sanity. Ah, peace! Less juggling…and less groceries…again.
Are you seeing what I saw? There is such irony in the ebb and flow of our lives. The burden we mourn today may be the blessing we take for granted tomorrow…and vice versa. That day I saw in clear black ink that God is always at work in my life. This journey is unpredictable, but it’s not haphazard. There is a purpose. Someone is in control of every step, even the painful ones.
As I sat on my bed, inspiration struck. What if I kept a journal to commemorate our journey? I could look back and see all that God has brought us through. And more importantly, I could look forward in faith. I set to work copying my lists into a brand new journal. To date we have been married nearly 7 years. Every year on our anniversary, I fill in one page of our journal. I list all the difficulties and all the answers to prayer that year. Then I stick in just one picture—a picture of how we celebrated our anniversary. That’s it. It’s my 21st century Ebenezer—my memorial to God’s faithfulness in our lives. Being the dreamer that I am, I imagine that one day I will share it with my kids. We can flip to year fifteen and remember exactly how God was at work that year. And together, we can celebrate the journey.
I don’t know whether you’re single, married, widowed, young, or old—but I do know one thing: all of us are on a journey. Why not commemorate yours? You can think back to a definite starting point like I did (when you got married, moved out of your parents’ house, became a Christian…etc.) or start right now. The agenda is simple—you’re taking stock of 2 things: how God has been lavish in the blessings of your life and faithful in the trials of your life. Then when you’re sitting on the couch and that great big present trial—the one you just can’t stop thinking about—comes looming over you, remember that one day it will be little more than words in a journal, a testimony to the faithfulness of God.