Having grown up in very transient lifestyles, my husband and I both feel a need for regular change. Little changes throughout the year are helpful, but at least once a year we need something bigger – usually in the form of some form of rearranging in our house. The entire downstairs portion of our home (living room, dining room, and sunroom) were shifted, with only one couch, an end table, and a couple of bookshelves staying in their previous locations.
The process also meant that we had to rearrange some of our knick knacks. Over the years, we’ve tried very hard to only keep knick knacks that are truly meaningful. Treasures from Jordan and other countries; Doug’s Eagle Scout memorabilia; little items that remind us of experiences from our married life; special gifts from friends and family. But, even keeping them limited, sometimes it’s hard to find the right spot for each treasure.
This time, I’d found a place for every item except one: the floral cake topper from our wedding.
It was a beautiful cake topper, made by the friend who also assembled all of the bouquets and made my cake. I can’t remember when I had to relinquish the bouquet due to aging, but the cake topper had lasted for eighteen years.
As I looked at it on this particular day, however, I noticed it just did not look pretty anymore. The flowers had yellowed and shifted in their locations, and it just looked a bit grungy. It was no longer the pretty keepsake from our wedding. Instead, it had become a dust trap that really did not have a home.
As I held it, I had to stop and wonder why I’d kept the arrangement for eighteen years. What meaning did it really have?
I realized that I saw this topper as another symbol of our wedding which, in turn, was the first symbol of our marriage relationship. The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that this particular symbol might be outdated. There are certain symbols of our marriage that will never go out of date. My ring, for instance. I love wearing my wedding ring, and I love that Doug always wears his. We like radiating “married” everywhere we go, and those rings help. They will never be out of date or insignificant.
I also love our unity candle. At one point, we thought about lighting it for every anniversary until it died. But, we never did that. I still like keeping it, though. And, we have our wedding pictures, which contain beautiful memories that are fun to look back at now and then – and show to our children.
But, the flowers? As I stared at the flowers, I couldn’t think of a single thing that the flowers still represented.
I love symbols. They remind me. They keep me directed and focused. They are tangible evidence of oft-intangible realities, and my personality craves tangibility. But sometimes I think I cling to symbols more than to the reality itself. Other times I hang on to symbols long after they lose their significance, neglecting to move on and update my symbols as my understanding of the realities they represent grows and changes.
Doug and I are far beyond our wedding. It was a beautiful day that we will always treasure in our memories. But, our relationship has grown incredibly. And our symbols need to grow with the relationship. So, the old symbols – like the flowers – need to be released to allow room for the new. What will those new symbols be? Who knows? I’m excited, though, to see what God sends our way each step of the way.