Beauty For Ashes

Yesterday was my 37th wedding anniversary.  My daughter-in-law said she was thankful that my husband and I had made the committment to stay together no matter what and that her husband (our son) was blessed to have both parents.

Her comment got me thinking about the sacrifices parents make to stay married.  Marriage is difficult.  We are all individuals and we all have our individual ways of looking at things and making decisions or choices.  Sometimes those differences can cause problems in relationships.  We are constantly having to give up our “right to be right” to keep the peace.  Or sometimes we don’t give up the right so quickly and the result is “no peace.”

There are other kinds of sacrifices we make as parents or spouses.  And whatever the differences of opinions or struggles to get along, those sacrifices are many times painful to make.  The temptation is great to just give up and throw in the towel.  Sometimes our anger and frustration can mount to experience feelings of hopelessness and we feel overwhelmed and helpless to make the marriage work.  But when we do not give up but keep on trying and pushing through, we are literally placing our rights on the altar of obedience and a beautiful aroma begins to eminate as the sacrifice becomes ashes.

“…To give them beauty for ashes….”  Ashes are a by-product of burning something and when we think of physical sacrifices we think of burning on an altar.  So applying a visual picture to this whole thought process this came to me:

As G-d’s children, we sacrifice on the altar of obedience and the resulting ashes are then traded for His beauty.  Isaiah 61:3

That “beauty” can be the blessings my daughter-in-law so accurately recognized in her husband.  In contrast, our current world is evidence of the result of not sacrificing to keep our marriages together through the broken homes, broken lives, destroyed families, lost children, and a deviant society of young people destined for the next generation to deal with.

In retrospect, those sacrifices seem so little to give up for the sake of peace, harmony, and the blessings around a table surrounded by our family members.  I think of that every Shabbat when I recite Psalm 112 over my husband.  Here is just a small portion of it:

Blessed is the man who fears the L-rd.  Who delights greatly in His commandments.

His descendants will be mighty on earth; the generation of the upright will be blessed.  Wealth and riches WILL be in his house……..

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