Today’s Life:Unmasked is a guest post from Tanya. I met her what seems like a lifetime ago, before either of us were married. When we reconnected through Facebook and learned each other’s stories… well, it’s hard to describe the bond between people who have walked the dark places. While our stories are very different, the struggle, the questions, and the transformation are very much alike. I think you’ll appreciate what she has to say.

The Fixer-Upper Marriage

I had a unique opportunity the other day to see current pictures of the first home that my husband and I lived in – 15 years ago. (Talk about a throw back in time!) It is vacant, has just been renovated, and looks fantastic!

The contrast between that home’s condition “then” and “now” was stunning. It took me a little while to move past the first picture. And as I envied gazed at the newly-refinished hardwoods, chocolate-glazed kitchen cabinets, and a fresh coat of paint, I thought, “That’s nicer than where we live now!” We’ve regressed. What’s wrong with this picture? (I know, such a thankful spirit, huh?)

The reality? The materials now featured in that home are nicer than that of our current home. And materials aside, there was no denying how foreign it appeared clean it was. No clutter. No marks on the hardwoods. No scuffs on the paint. Did I mention no clutter??

And since this happened so nostalgically just days before our 15th wedding anniversary, I couldn’t help but take a retrospective look at the couple that occupied those two homes.
Same people. Two very different points in time.

In the one home, a young (sigh) newlywed couple with pretty much all of life ahead of them. And in the other home, a couple who has struggled walked through 15 years of life together. And you know what I concluded? The way those two homes look: Pretty much the same as the marriage.

Because since we’ve been married, we’ve certainly had seasons that have looked much like the newly-renovated house. Incredibly bright days of joy that energized like rays of the sun. Times beautifully painted with vivid colors of laughter. Memories woven together in rich fabric of personal and relational growth.

But we’ve also had times when the leaves have changed their colors, and we’ve found our home in the middle of harsh, cold winters. Times when the supporting beams of life seemed to be collapsing around us. Crises that left us in survival mode – long term.
Times that changed us. And the way we look at the world.

And if our collective walls could speak, they would also attest to the interior realities:
Scuffs of impatience.
Stains of selfish choices.
Dings of disappointment.
Cracks from responses lacking grace.
The constant clutter of my expectations.

Original structure unchanged. But the risk of damage clearly revealed.
Vulnerabilities relentlessly exposed.

The newlywed home looks altogether appealing and intact. But this marriage home often looks worn.
And then I remember. That home is vacant.
It is only spotless because nobody lives there yet.

So yes, our marriage often looks weathered, messy, and needing repairs. But those marks are evidence of our humanity. Evidence of life.
Every scuff testifies to a life lived – together.

Every crack a reminder that we desperately need God
to pull the whole thing off.

So has our marriage been a romantic bed of roses? Nope, it hasn’t.
It’s been better.

It’s been a construction site for our hearts.
A journey of surrendering our wants for God’s best.
A place where we are reminded that God is more interested in our holiness, than our happiness.
Sacred ground where we abide, grow, protect, trust, hope, and persevere.

And I am honored to live out this truth in marriage with my husband – stains, leaks, storms, & all.

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Tanya blogs at Truth in Weakness. Her bio: I am on a journey of embracing my weaknesses, because I have found that the more vulnerable I feel, the more God’s radiant power shines through. And while that single sentence sounds very simple, recognizing my humanity is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. But as others have been open with me about their struggles, and the aches in their souls, it has given me “permission” to be human, too — which ironically, is incredibly empowering! And so I want to give you the gift of sharing my struggles, my pain. Not for your sympathy, but as a loving reminder that you don’t have to have it all together, either.

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It’s time for Life:Unmasked!

Life: unmasked button

On Wednesdays we gather to share our imperfect, masks-down stories from the week. We are real people with real struggles who recognize how encouraging it is to discover that someone else has clutter all over their kitchen counters, piles laundry baskets in the master bedroom when company comes over, and bounces checks now and then. These posts are an effort to climb off the perfection pedestal, get into the muck of life, wrap an arm around each other’s shoulders, and support one another through the hard work of living.

Have a post, video, or photo to share? Link it here! (Please use the direct link to your post, not a general link to your site). Then please visit at least 2 other posts linked up as well, and leave a comment to encourage your fellow life:unmaskers.