"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." Romans 7:15
He came home from work, tired I am sure. But instead of complaining, he rolled his sleeves up and jumped right in making french toast and frying bacon for our dinner. As he worked, he told me about the rough day he had had-- more than 100 people had been laid off at his company. We talked through what that was like for them, and whispered about what it would mean for us. I knew he was putting himself in their place-- going to work on an ordinary day, only to learn that he was no longer needed.
After dinner, he got the kids to clean up from dinner and then tackled bathtimes with the younger kids. After they were safely tucked into bed, he took one son with him to the store. He returned home happy, reeling off the things on the list he had gotten for me. "You didn't get the vitamins," I told him. "That was the whole reason you went!" His smile disappeared. Bewildered, he offered to go back out and get the vitamins if we really needed them. "Well, of course we do or I wouldn't have asked for them," I said. He left again. It was late. He was tired. His coworkers were probably huddled around their kitchen tables somewhere, strategizing how to make it through the holidays with no job, crunching numbers while their wives tried to not look worried-- and his thoughts were never far from them, I know.
He returned home for the second time, happy again, brandishing an off brand of the vitamins I had asked for. "These were buy one get one free!" he said, waving two boxes, one in each hand. I took one look at those boxes and sneered.
"There are some things you don't bargain shop for," I chided. He slunk off to the kitchen to stow the vitamins in the cabinet, out of sight. Later, he fell asleep on the couch, the book he had attempted to read rising and falling on his chest as he slept.
This is an actual scene from life at my house. This morning as I was in my prayer closet (my shower), God brought that scene to mind, allowing me to see my own ugliness in it. Here we see this really great guy trying to serve and love and give-- and here we see his snippy, unappreciative wife totally dropping the ball on loving and serving him in return. Instead we see the way she wants her own way and pouts like a two year old when she doesn't get it. We see that, once again, her need to say little unnecessary comments surfaces. We see her focusing on the negative and missing so much positive in the process.
What is wrong with me?
Just over a year ago, I had a friend lose her husband suddenly to a heart attack. As timing would have it, I got an email from her today, reminding me of another time when I was whining over something stupid and insignificant about my husband. He used to have this habit of leaving his discarded items of clothing on the floor in our bathroom, always in the same spot. Daily I would collect his clothes and grumble to myself: "I guess you expect the maid to get this for you. Wonder what would happen if I dropped my clothes in the floor and left them there? I'll tell you what would happen. Nothing! Because I don't have a maid to pick up after me!" No one could hear my muttered words, but it made me feel better to say them. Where was that verse about doing everything as unto the Lord? Certainly not hidden in my heart or flowing from my lips, no sirree!
The day I found out about my friend's husband, I rounded the corner from hanging up the phone and came face to face with those clothes on the floor, again. At that moment, I felt God whisper to me, "I'll bet she would give just about anything to see his clothes lying on the floor, still warm from his body heat. And yet you complain about them."
Today I was reminded again of what I have-- and what I stand to lose. My words wound or, at the very least, fall far short of what they could bring to my husband's life. I choose to nitpick instead of nurture. I choose to litigate instead of love. I hate these choices I make, and yet, again and again I go back to this same driving need to plead my case, assert my rights, get my way, and be first.
When God asks me to be willing to be last (Mark 9:35). In life. And in marriage.
I want to do better, to speak kinder, to look for the many good things instead of seizing on the bad. I want to be a wife who brings him good and not harm all the days of her life (Proverbs 31:12). I am working on it, but some days I fall right back into flesh patterns that are so evil and ugly I recoil at my own image when it's played out for me, like it was this morning as God got my attention. I should know better. I should do better.
Tomorrow, I will try again. And, honey? Thanks for hanging in there on the days when I don't.