A friend recently e-mailed me, sending photos of a big, elaborate wedding she attended in Temple, Texas. I looked at the backdrop behind the communion table; and lo and behold, it was a large oil painting which I painted over twenty years ago.
My first thought was, “I have forgotten about that painting. So that is where it went. I’m glad to know.”
It was a picture of just windows; all kinds of windows. She suggested I write about “Windows of sincere friendships” or “Windows into the heart of a family.”
I pondered on the reason I painted it so many years ago. Each window was a vignette within the painting. One window was set in a partially broken brick wall; one in an old, ornate house and the open window in a white double window pane framed a white lacey curtain blowing from behind it. In the center there was another open window. It had a ledge where there were kernels of corn; a white dove was standing on the ledge and another one was flying towards it. You could feel the stark coldness behind one window which belonged in an office building; and another one showed the drapes closed. The arched window had stained glass and it was obvious that it must belong to a church building.
I just remembered the profound thought I had when I painted it; each window had a different story to tell about the life behind it. It seemed odd to me that the bride’s mother would pick my painting with windows as a backdrop where the couple spoke their vows before God. Then I understood my friend’s request. “Write on the Windows into the heart of a family”; and maybe the mother was saying, “Choose the life you will live as a family before God. Your home will reflect it and one day your children will reflect it also.”
Young couples start out with a feeling of hope, a future, building a wonderful life together; and all because they think they love each other. Do they have a clue as to real love and the vows they make before God? I don’t think so. I didn’t.
Years ago at a wedding I attended, I thought, why are weddings so beautiful and marriages so shabby? That marriage lasted less than a year. But it was a beautiful wedding. It didn’t take long until love was tested. That’s when the windows took on a different look.
Some couples grow stronger with the trials, and their windows stay clean and sparkly as they work hard to preserve a sense of sanity and stability. But many times the shades are drawn shut and the light is turned off in their hearts. No one is home even though they are there in form. They shut the drapes so they will not be scrutinized by gossipy neighbors.
A lot of marriages are in trouble today. A young couple in trouble could even go to the place where a stained-glass window arches, knowing they need to get in touch with God. So often they do not know what they are looking for, they just know their marriage isn’t working and it’s over.
Behind that arched stained-glass window, many times they find a form of godliness without power. The couple turns away in hopelessness. Didn’t they go to the right place? But the church is in as much trouble as the couple is. Doesn’t a stained-glass window mean God’s Life is behind it? Not necessarily so! The church, too, has lost its first love and the light has been turned off.
Then in pain and regret, the couple who once thought they were in love call for the moving van. Things are divided and the belongings behind the window are taken away; and once a couple, they leave in separate cars.
A proverb says, “A wise women builds her house, a foolish one tears it down.” I know I have done my fair share of tearing down my family over the years. I, too, started out as an eighteen-year-old bride with love in my eyes, thinking how grand it was going to be. Life came in and things happened. I lacked that unconditional love that comes from only above. Our marriage was once in trouble too.
I love to write about Al in the newspaper. People always tell me they love what Al says. I tell them, you wouldn’t have like what I had to say about my sweet Al years ago, I had an axe in my hand and I was ready to take off his head. I didn’t know how to love unconditionally. But today, I don’t feel any barb in anything I write about him. I don’t have to get even, I don’t have to get my say, and I don’t have to justify myself. It has given me the freedom to pull up the shades on our lives and feel safe enough in exposing our marriage.
So what do I know about writing on “The windows into the heart of a family”? I know the family makes the home, not the home makes the family. I know that the wheel moves with the rhythm of the mother’s heart and the rim of that wheel should be the father’s care, protection and provision. I know when I see trash on the outside of a home, there is probably trash on the inside too.
So how are we doing in this world of windows? We might not open our curtains, but our lives will tell the world who we really are. Our family’s wellness will speak for us. Our children live behind those windows with us and one day they will have windows of their own. Hopefully we are all keeping trash out of the front yard and from the inside of the house and we are free to keep the drapes open.
Jesus, the Son of God, pulled back the drapes and opened a window to heaven for us. In His death, He gave us Life. He has shown us unconditional love; He is the one who took the axe out of my hand and gave Al and I the Spirit of forgiveness and taught us how to love unconditionally. He has preserved our marriage. He will do it for anyone if they will just call on Him in faith.
Allow the clean air of heaven to blow in; so that birds will feel safe to fly to your open window and feed from the substance of your caring home.
Wow, Betty, this week’s “A Matter of Faith” was so good. You have a way of touching our hearts with your realism. We don’t “see” what God is doing behind the scenes in our lives, but I am so thankful that He is always present through the Holy Trinity, directing, guiding and loving us.
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