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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Fulfillment (04/06/06)

TITLE: The Other Side of the Mug
By Debbie Sickler


My husband and I stood on a secluded beach in Maui, our toes wiggling in the soft sand, as a Hawaiian minister preformed our wedding ceremony. Our only guest was the photographer, who snapped pictures of us against the brilliant backdrop of waves and sunset.

During our week in Maui, we shared many adventures including snorkeling, an authentic luau-complete with dancers and a raising of the pig ceremony-and a couple trips down the infamously narrow Road to Hanna, where we hiked through a bamboo forest and searched for waterfalls.

At the Seven Sacred Pools, laughter of children playing in the tropical water filled our ears, as we ascended to the first tier. Our eyes were amazed at the endless view of lush foliage visible from that height. Another waterfall called out to us from above, as the water poured down from the rocks. The area was empty of tourists and fairly secluded, the perfect spot for blissful newlyweds to enjoy a romantic sunset.

When we approached the top waterfall, my husband saw an object glistening in the sand and picked it up in disbelief. “Hold out your hand.” I couldn’t quite read the excitement on his face. Expecting a disgusting slug or worm, I decided to trust him and hesitantly received his gift: a gold tennis bracelet with a carat worth of diamonds.

We didn’t bring home many souvenirs from our honeymoon, but my favorite, even more so than the bracelet, is a set of coffee mugs we bought ourselves at a Starbucks in Lahaina. I’m taken back to those early days of our marriage every time I take a sip of tea from mine.

Almost in tears one morning, I stood at our kitchen sink staring down at my mug; my hands still covered with the bubbles that betrayed me. The cheap bowl from Wal-mart was fine. My irreplaceable treasure it had landed on was not. A huge chunk was missing from the rim and down one side, revealing the rough clay below the smooth finish. After surviving almost five years of daily use, one slip from soapy hands and my honeymoon memento was ruined.

My first thought was how big, ugly, and hard to miss the chip was. Then I realized that I still loved the mug; despite the imperfection, I wasn’t ready to give up on it. I decided to try gluing the larger chips back on and to not dwell on it.

As I enjoyed my hot tea this morning, it dawned on me that my mug was similar to marriage. I loved it from the beginning. It reminded me of the good and adventurous time we experienced together. Now it was damaged. Old. Broken.

Yes, the newness of our life together may be gone and we’ve settled into a routine. Maybe, at times, even a rut or two. How many times had I caused damage to my relationship with my beloved husband? Too many to count, I’m sure.

Many couples have experienced the same thing in their relationships. Things start out as diamond bracelets and waterfalls, only to become a disappointing reality of mundane-ness. Often times when arguments, stress, and tension chip away at us, we feel the temptation to throw in the towel. To simply give up on each other and all that we’ve shared, all that we will share.

How am I able to continue enjoying my mug? I drink from the other side. Sure, the chink is still there, but I fixed it the best I could. It will never be perfect and new again, but I still love it. I could easily throw it in the trash and reach for one of the numerous mugs crowded in my kitchen cupboard, but this is the one I chose as special. This is the one that captured my heart, just like the man it reminds me of each morning.

Love is full of choices. God wants us to choose to love each other. Once you have made the commitment of marriage, you will never find true fulfillment through it as long as failure is an option. It is so easy to cloud our judgment by focusing on the imperfections of our mates. I’m not suggesting to ignore and turn a blind eye to problems in life. We need to address issues and deal with them as best as we can through prayer and in love. Then we need to drink from the other side of the mug.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Ann Darcy04/13/06
Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us! I liked your story, a lot. But I did get a little confused with your going from Hawaii to home like you did. Maybe have her looking back at their honeymoon at the start past tense. The present is now and then five years from now...
Great story, thanks!
Shannon Redmon04/14/06
I think you have a great title and could see you standing on stage at a marriage retreat inspiring couples with your story. With a little editing and more specific description, it could be a real gem! I enjoyed it!
Jan Ackerson 04/14/06
Lovely! Consider starting with a slightly modified 3rd paragraph; the introductory material in the first 2 paragraphs goes a bit long. The central illustration--your chipped mug--is right on target, and well-written.
Amy Michelle Wiley 04/14/06
I like the changes you made. Good job and good reminder for all of us...drink from the other side. ;-)
Sandra Petersen 04/15/06
You painted some lovely pictures in this article. Very neatly wrapped up at the end with the return mention of the diamond bracelet and mug. Great way to make the point: comparing marriages of many years to a chipped coffee mug. I especially liked the third paragraph from the end. Even if you would have kept only one chip from the mug, you would have been reminded of how special your husband is to you. Good job and great message!
Lynda Schultz 04/15/06
Very timely reminder and well written. Congratulations.
Marilyn Schnepp 04/15/06
Thanks for sharing this enchanting story with your fellow wordsmiths. Charming!
Linda Germain 04/16/06
Nicely drawn parallels between cup and marriage. My mind can streak off down a bunny trail in a nano-second so it's no surprise how concerned I became for the poor girl who must have lost the bracelet. (or did he "plant" it in the dirt?)At any rate, I enjoyed the story and the lesson. :0) Good job.
Teri Wilson04/17/06
Very nice. I love your analogy of the "other side of the mug." Good job.
Beth Muehlhausen04/17/06
Nice ending: "Then we need to drink from the other side of the mug." That chipped side just cuts your lip every time, heh?? LOL
Crista Darr04/17/06
Wow, this writing is exceptional! Great story too.
Garnet Miller 04/18/06
What a timely word on marriage. I need to try drinking from the other side of the mug. Well put together story. You think I'll find a diamond tennis bracelet if I go to Maui? Or, maybe my husband can go and find one before Mother's Day!
Marie Hearty 04/18/06
The part where you stated that we can never find true fulfillment in our relationship as long as failure is an option, really struck me. If only we all thought that way. Great story.
Pat Guy 04/19/06
Many great points - and so poignant for today. This could almost be used as a devotional. Good stuff!
Suzanne R04/20/06
I've got a mug just like that! I bought it on a weekend away with a good friend and think of our friendship each time I use it ... but it is chipped now too.

This is a great ananolgy. Did you really do all that for your wedding / honeymoon? It sounds just WONDERFUL!
Jeffrey Snell04/20/06
This was terrific, Deb! Touching, humorous and, best of all, full of heart. You nailed the heart of marriage--very nicely done!