I remember cradling it in my lap on the ride home from school. To my kindergarten-aged eyes, it was a modern art masterpiece. The swirling colors and complex layers of macaroni and dried glue were nothing short of a sign of the emergence of America’s next great artist. No autographs, please.
My delusions of grandeur reached outlandish levels when my mother took my awkward, misshapen artwork and hung it on the fridge. To me, this was as good as her flying to France and hanging it in The Louvre.
From that moment on, the refrigerator became a highly competitive and sought after spot. I worked hard on every drawing, painting, and macaroni sculpture with that hopes that it would be refrigerator-worthy. And sure, the recognition of having my artwork displayed in that coveted place was nice. More so, however, was the look on my mother’s face when she would take something my brother (the Mozart to my Salieri) or I had done and hang it on the refrigerator. She would look at it with a beautiful mix of pride and love. That look, that reaction was better than any spot on the refrigerator, in the Louvre, or anywhere else.
Not too long ago, the Young Couples group of FUMC Hurst explored the idea of being “refrigerator-worthy.” Generally, art is highly subjective. One person might love Rembrandt. Another might think he’s a hack. I might think Gladiator is a cinematic masterpiece (it is). You might think it’s total garbage (you’re wrong). So, what might be “refrigerator-worthy” to one might not be to another.
A bit of back story: Our group is made up of dating, engaged, and married couples that find themselves in the purgatorial state between two significant life chapters: college and kids. It’s a time of life that is marked by discovering who we are with our significant other by our side. When you aren’t surrounded by your college buddies or waking up at ungodly hours to nurture a crying baby, what does your life and relationship look like?
With that in mind, our conversation turned from the standard media of art—oil, marble, bronze, etc.—to a nontraditional medium: our relationships. Do our relationships garner the same reaction from God that I longed to see on my mother’s face? Is he proud of our relationships? Does He see His love shining through us? Would God hang our relationship on His heavenly refrigerator? It’s a bit of a silly question, I admit (I mean, does God even have a refrigerator?).
However, when you think about living a life worthy of God’s pride and joy, it can be convicting. I know my life falls short of making it on God’s refrigerator on a regular basis. I’m a prideful person. I struggle with being the kind of man that God desires me to be. Add those struggles to those of trying to be a good husband, then mix in my wife’s struggles and it becomes quite the hill to climb. It’s truly joyful work, though. My wife and I have to lean on each other in order to make something worthy of that heavenly refrigerator.
Unfortunately, our work will never be enough. That’s a good thing. It means we need help. And God is more than willing to offer help. He picks us up when we fall. He dusts us off and pushes us onward, because he loves us. He wants to be part of our journey. My mother would do the same thing. She’d help me and encourage me when I was struggling, but no matter how much she helped, she was always so proud of me when I finally handed her my finished work. God is the same way. No matter how much he helps and carries us on our way, he is proud of our accomplishments. In our relationships, he takes joy in the times we choose a loving touch over a cold shoulder, a gentle word over a harsh criticism, or a kiss over a sneer.
Art is hard. Art is complex. Our lives and our relationships are equally so. However, with hard work and God’s help, we can strive to live lives and build relationships that are “refrigerator-worthy.”