The Other Side of the Mug
By Debbie Sickler
My husband and I stood on a secluded beach in Maui, our toes wiggling in the soft sand, as a Hawaiian minister preformed our wedding ceremony. Our only guest was the photographer, who snapped pictures of us against the brilliant backdrop of waves and sunset.
During our week in Maui, we shared many adventures including snorkeling, an authentic luau-complete with dancers and a raising of the pig ceremony-and a couple of trips down the infamously narrow Road to Hanna, where we hiked through a bamboo forest and searched for waterfalls.
At the Seven Sacred Pools, laughter of children playing in the tropical water filled our ears, as we ascended to the first tier. Our eyes were amazed at the endless view of lush foliage visible from that height. Another waterfall called out to us from above, as the water poured down from the rocks. The area was empty of tourists and fairly secluded, the perfect spot for blissful newlyweds to enjoy a romantic sunset.
When we approached the top waterfall, my husband saw an object glistening in the sand and picked it up in disbelief. "Hold out your hand." I couldn't quite read the excitement on his face. Expecting a disgusting slug or worm, I decided to trust him and hesitantly received his gift: a gold tennis bracelet with a carat worth of diamonds.
We didn't bring home many souvenirs from our honeymoon, but my favorite, even more so than the bracelet, is a set of coffee mugs we bought ourselves at a Starbucks in Lahaina. I'm taken back to those early days of our marriage every time I take a sip of tea from mine.
Almost in tears one morning, I stood at our kitchen sink staring down at my mug; my hands still covered with the bubbles that betrayed me. The cheap bowl from Wal-mart was fine. The irreplaceable treasure it had landed on was not. A huge chunk was missing from the rim and down one side, revealing the rough clay below the smooth finish. After surviving almost five years of daily use, one slip from soapy hands and my honeymoon memento was ruined.
My first thought was how big, ugly, and hard to miss the chip was. Then I realized that I still loved the mug; despite the imperfection, I wasn't ready to give up on it. I decided to try gluing the larger chips back on and to not dwell on it.
As I enjoyed my hot tea this morning, it dawned on me that my mug was similar to marriage. I loved it from the beginning. It reminded me of the good and adventurous time we experienced together. Now it was damaged. Old. Broken.
Yes, the newness of our life together may be gone and we've settled into a routine. Maybe, at times, even a rut or two. How many times had I caused damage to my relationship with my beloved husband? Too many to count, I'm sure.
Many couples have experienced the same thing in their relationships. Things start out as diamond bracelets and waterfalls, only to become a disappointing reality of mundane-ness. Often times, when arguments, stress, and tension chip away at us, we feel the temptation to throw in the towel. To simply give up on each other and all that we've shared; all that we will share.
How am I able to continue enjoying my mug? I drink from the other side. Sure, the chink is still there, but I fixed it the best I could. It will never be perfect and new again, but I still love it. I could easily throw it in the trash and reach for one of the numerous mugs crowded in my kitchen cupboard, but this is the one I chose as special. This is the one that captured my heart, just like the man it reminds me of each morning.
Love is full of choices. God wants us to choose to love each other. Once you have made the commitment of marriage, you will never find true fulfillment through it as long as failure is an option.
It is so easy to cloud our judgment by focusing on the imperfections of our mates. I'm not suggesting to ignore and turn a blind eye to problems in life. We need to address issues and deal with them as best as we can through prayer and in love. Then we need to drink from the other side of the mug.
Debbie Sickler, a mother of three boys, began writing as a hobby in 2005. She has since won several awards and been published both online and in print. She is currently working on her first screenplay, a Christian fantasy. If you would like to write to Debbie, you can do so through the Letters page of this magazine.