I originally published this in July, 2017, but with Barbara’s passing last September, I wanted to share this again as an encouragement for those who are married and for those who hope to be one day.
Not too long after Barbara and I were married, we cooked our first Thanksgiving turkey. It wasn’t too bad for a first time effort, and, although I really don’t remember it, I’m sure the whole meal was a joy. I do remember, however, that after I carved the turkey I did the traditional thing and set the wishbone aside to dry on the windowsill in the kitchen.
After a few weeks we decided the wishbone was ready to be tested. Barbara took one end and I took another. After making our “wishes,” we pulled at the wishbone, only to have it split evenly right up the middle. No winners. No losers. Just us, still the same. We looked at each other, then at the pieces of bone in our hands, then back at each other and nervously laughed.
I don’t often get weirdly spiritual, as in looking for God trying to get my attention behind every strange happening or offbeat coincidence. Still, Barbara and I knew immediately what the Lord was saying, and we haven’t shared a wishbone since. Not once. So, if you think we are weird spiritual fanatics, at least we are weird together and we don’t have only one of us taking all the blame.
From this simple incident we learned two valuable lessons. First, the success of our marriage has nothing to do with luck and even less to do with wishing. There is nothing superstitious, coincidental, fortuitous or haphazard about a successful marriage. A strong, committed relationship is a choice we make, everyday, for the rest of our lives. Furthermore, I didn’t get “lucky” finding Barbara. My first priority was to follow God’s direction in my life, not find a wife. With that priority set, God brought the right woman into my life. Luck is not a factor when God is placed first.
Second, Barbara and I are not in competition. I do not “win” when she “loses.” I am not the better person if my wishes come true over those of my wife. There are plenty of good thing’s in life to go around without thinking my fortune must come at someone else’s misfortune. Unless we are in a heated game of Scrabble, I am not in competition with Barbara. And even in Scrabble, we cheer the other if they make a high score. I didn’t get married to compete with and overcome my best friend. Her success is my success.
Because I believe this, it bothers me to watch couples take delight in putting the other one down in public. If a guy does this to his wife, I’m thinking, “If she is so stupid and ignorant, why did you take public vows telling the world you wanted to spend the rest of your life with her? Who’s the real idiot in this scene?”
Ephesians reminds men to “love your wives, just as Christ loves the church” (Eph. 5:25). Not once has anyone ever heard Jesus point to one of His Bride and say, “Why are you so dumb? He Mike and Gabriel, come look at what stupid thing this one did just now.” Jesus treats His Church better than that, and so should we. Even if they are not our spouse. But especially if they are.
So, this Thanksgiving when someone wants to make a wish over a piece of bone, kindly look at them and say, “Tell you what. How ’bout we both pray good things for one another, because your success is my success.”
If you are interested in reading my book about loss, grief and my decision to choose gratitude before Barbara passed, you can now buy my book at your favorite bookseller.