Life is the Fishbowl

My perspective on marriage and family began a shift at the most peculiar of places — Payless Shoe Source.

A few years back, Cara and I were searching for shoes for our little Anna (who had begun “toddling”), and we perused the aisles of our local Payless store. As Anna dismantled the racks, we had a man just a bit younger than ourselves come over and ask if we needed any assistance. We had a focus in mind, but we opened the opportunity for him to “help” us a bit.

During the course of our interaction, the man stopped and asked us if we were married.

I looked at my ring and Anna putting on over-sized shoes. But quickly recovered realizing the norm for today’s culture.

“Yes, we are!” we replied.

“How long have you been married,” he asked.

“Five years.”

“Wow!” he said. “Well, here’s hoping for eight!”

First, I was somewhat surprised that five years was long enough for a “wow.” Again, being the cultural student that I am, I figured this was probably a fair response.

However, I thought a long while after about why he was “hoping for eight.” Why that number exactly? It seemed so odd until another thought came into my head.

Maybe he had not known a marriage to last longer than eight years.

Then another thought quickly followed.

My marriage and family is a living illustration of the gospel to a desperate world. (Click to tweet)

Of course, we know this in part because we all know the following passage.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16, NIV)

But I began to apply that passage to my marriage and family and considered the implications.

It gave a whole new concept to the fishbowl analogy.

My marriage is an illustration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and serves as a light to those in darkness. The way I interact with Cara is meant to image Christ’s sacrificial love for us. It is not only a picture for my children, but it’s a picture for the whole world.

The question is, what is my marriage saying about Jesus?

My family is an illustration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and serves as a light to those in darkness. The way I father my children is meant to image God as a Father. It emblazons a picture in the minds and hearts of my children, and it also serves as a picture for everyone around me.

The question is, what is my family life saying about Jesus?

It can be a challenge to answer these questions on my own. Even self-evaluation still has an element of “self” to it. It’s essential for me to find a way to see my life through other people’s eyes. I struggled for a while, but then God provided me with a gift.

The gift was moment with Ella and the large picture window in the front of my house.

As I walked into the living room, I saw Ella dressed in her ballet finest. This was not unusual, as my middle daughter will take any moment she can to dance. This time, though, she held herself differently. I watched as she faced the window, curtsied, and began dancing to her “audience.”

“Ella, whatchya doin’?” I asked.

“I’m doing my ballet dance for Ms. Carol,” she replied as she continued her routine.

Ms. Carol is an elderly lady who is housebound and lived just across the street from us. She had mentioned a time or two before about seeing our girls through the front window. Naturally, Ella thought it perfectly reasonable to assume that Ms. Carol was watching.

It’s also perfectly reasonable that I assume the same thing.

I walk by that picture window every day, and it serves as a reminder to consider what my life looks like from my neighbor’s porch.

  • How might they describe the love of God because of me?
  • How do they see me changing and being transformed?
  • What do they think about marriage because of me?
  • How do they view children because of me?
  • What might they think about being adopted into God’s family because of what they see in my life and home?

I realized that I needed to embrace the picture window mentality. I need to see that all of life is the “fishbowl.” My faith is on display every moment of every day — whether I’m at a church gathering, shopping at Payless, or sitting in my living room.

In my marriage and my family, may they see Christ for Who He really is.

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