Friday, November 14, 2008

What I Hate I Do

"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.
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Bonita said...

Marybeth, I could have written this post myself, though not as eloquently as you did. Lately, as stress has mounted so has my sassy attitude and snappy mouth. Thanks for the reminder to love and appreciate our husbands and not take them for granted.

Shannon said...

I could and need to hear this everyday. My husband is awesome and never complains about coming home from his job to help me cheerfully with the baths, meals and errands. It's hard work running a house with 5 children here, but its even harder for me to break the cycle and put him first! Thanks for the encouragement!

Anonymous said...


I too have struggled with a loose tongue. I have recently let it flap wild and not been so nice to my husband. Condensending, smart, and ugly. I thank GOD that he uses you as a tool to speak to our hearts by sharing that you too struggle with the same things. I have been reading alot of parenting books and it is took three of them to make the same comment before God said to me " do you you hear.." The comment is " what is in your heart pours out of your mouth." WHOA..that hit home and I had to look at what my words were doing. Did I have that in my heart? Needless to say I am praying for heart changes so I can be the wife and mom I am called to be. Thanks again for sharing and caring!!

Tricia in KY

Sandra D said...

What an excellent reminder this morning! What a blessing to be able to soak this in and choose to practice it today.
As the mom of five children, who I homeschool, I find that I have been grumbling more than I should...I needed that reminder!

1inCollege1inDiapers said...

Thank you so much for being so open, and allowing us to see that we are not the only ones who do "ugly" to those who love us. I have a problem of thinking I am the only one in the house giving and forgetting that I have a man who gets up every morning, while I am still sleeping, goes off to work so that I can stay home and he does it because he loves his family. I truely needed to hear myself through your words. Thank you for not being selfish and only letting us hear the good.

karen Ehman-The Keep it Simple Woman said...

Ouch!!!!......I needed this. Thanks Marybeth.....As always...Karen

Laurie Ann said...

Marybeth, I think we've all been there. Thank you for this reminder to love and serve our husbands with thanksgiving for what they do for us. I'll hug Steve a little tighter tonight and if he offers to run out for something we need, I may just offer to go instead. Bless you!

Anonymous said...

I have tears in my eyes, convicted and shameful of my own painfully similar behavior. Are you sure you weren't writing about my life? I think I will go tell my husband just how much I love him.
Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Wow. This is amazing.... Thank you for this. I just really needed to read this today.

A long time reader-first time commenter.


Melanie said...

What a powerful picture you have painted.
Thanks for the transparency.

Alyce said...

wow...that sounds like a day at my house. Thanks for the reminders!
just curious as to where your hubby works hubby's co. is having lay offs..and they have a plant in Charlotte (concord) too.

Anonymous said...

What a great reminder!
I was really touched
Thank you for being so open..
Bless you !


Becky said...

Add me to the list of women who needed to hear those powerful words! I pray God reminds me daily to truly honor my husband in word, thought, and deed. I'm just wondering WHY this seems to be such an issue for women(???)

magnet for the crazy said...

Thank you for the dose of reality, I could have written those very words, my husband also has the spot for his clothes in the middle of the floor, even the kids yell about it, tonight when my husband gets home instead of giving him the grumble about how tuff my day was Im going to give him a kiss and thak him. And then say a prayer for my friend who would give anything to kiss her husband again. thank you so much for words I needed to hear them!