This month is a very special month to me for many reasons. The first, very obvious reason, is Christmas. I love to reminisce about all the wonderful Christmases with my family when I was young. All of the traditions – some of which I still keep alive today. I think about my grandparents and how my grandmother would always say, “well its over ’till next year” when we finished opening the presents. Then, there was this one year when my uncle bought her a present that she really wanted but wouldn’t dare ask for. I don’t even remember what it was, but when she opened it she said, “my country tis of thee”. Every time I think of that moment and her smile I can’t help but laugh and tear up at the same time – man, I miss her!!!
But, this month is also special because it’s the month I got engaged. It was December 20th, just five days before Christmas. We went to dinner and my soon-to-be fiancé was so nervous he couldn’t carry on a conversation. Then, suddenly, he just kinda fell on one knee and popped the question. We were so young, so in love and so stupid at the same time. We had big dreams, little pocket books and nothing but blue skies – or so we thought. I guess we were somewhat “typical” of most young couples – starry eyes and miles of rough terrain ahead.
The first year of marriage was really very easy. We had always lived about three hours away from each other, so just being together most of the time was kinda nice. The second year, we moved to Nashville and I’m not gonna lie to ya – it was pretty rough. Everything was different – he went from being a big fish in a small pond to being a small fish in an ocean. I didn’t know anyone really and we both took a large pay cut when we moved. We plowed through, however, and things gradually began to improve. Then, there was year three through five – I was in graduate school and I really don’t remember much of anything except the Krebs cycle, talk of action potentials, cytochrome P450, calculating GFR, mg/kg/hr, etc. (if you’re a nurse you know what I’m talking about and I bet you just shivered – if not, please disregard). Anyway, I finally graduated, had a baby about two years later and then, in year seven, things began to unravel.
I’ll skip the details because it’s always the root of the problem that matters. But, we had become okay with mediocre. We had grown apart for a lot of reasons: graduate school, he traveled more, and a baby. These things are natural and happen to most people I think; but the problem is that we accepted this as a normal part of life and forgot to reconnect and fix it. We got used to it, okay with it – and what is the “it” you ask? We became used to the frogs.
I know this sounds crazy but let me explain. The scene takes place in Exodus 8. The background is that the Israelites were slaves in Egypt and God sent plagues upon Pharaoh and the Egyptians in order to free the Israelites. The plague of the frogs is particularly annoying and gross to me. Apparently the frogs were everywhere – “the Nile will teem with frogs. They will come up into your palace and your bedroom and onto your bed, into the houses of your officials and on your people, and into your ovens and kneading troughs. The frogs will go up on you and your people and all your officials” (Exodus 8:3-4). Gag!!! Then Pharaoh asked Moses to pray and ask the Lord to cancel the frog thing. And, Moses was like, okay, when would you like for them to leave? And Pharaoh said, “tomorrow”.
What? Tomorrow? Are you kidding me? There are frogs in my bed, my oven and jumping all over me. Not tomorrow – how about “yesterday” for an answer – or a simple “now, right now”. But no – he said tomorrow.
I’m sure that theologians and scholars have very sophisticated lessons to learn from this passage of scripture, but I think maybe Pharaoh was just used to the frogs. I first heard this message preached a few years ago and it was like a light bulb went off. That’s what happened to my marriage. We just became used to mediocre, used to distance, used to hit-or-miss connection, and used to just okay. We didn’t communicate well and sometimes not at all. We accepted this as “normal”. We both knew that it wasn’t great but we also weren’t calling lawyers. We didn’t address the frogs in our home because we settled for a frog-filled life. Underwhelmed, out of touch, and headed for a break down.
Thankfully, we were jolted into reality pretty quickly and forced to address the frogs or lose it all. But, I believe that many people spend their whole lives in a frog-filled existence. It may not be marriage – maybe a career, other relationships, hard to break habits. We know they aren’t right but we settle because addressing the frogs seems impossible. So, every night we lie down with the frogs and say “tomorrow”.
What I love about my story is that it ends well – not really ends – continues well, I guess. We started intense counseling and began addressing the frogs one-by-one. We started with the big bull frogs and worked our way down. Frogs are problems and they never really go away but they will move out of your house and into the rivers, ponds, etc. where they belong. But only, and this is key, if you stop saying tomorrow and start saying now.
If this is you, my prayer is that you will start right now and begin to address the frogs in your life. Make a phone call, see a counselor, go to meetings, make an appointment with a pastor/friend/confidant – anyone you can trust. Take one step in the right direction. It will not be easy. It will be messy but you are more than mediocre. You are better than okay. And, you are worth so much more than the frogs.