I’m sitting in Shari’s, enjoying some quiet time and writing. Although, Shari’s would not be my first pick– its open late and its quiet. I have four small ridiculously noisy children I just want quiet. So, I’m enjoying my decaf coffee and strawberry rhubarb pie and writing away.
A little while ago, an elderly couple walked in and came to the booth right next to me. He, bent and crooked, reached down and picked her oxygen tank up and placed it in the seat of the booth. Then took her hand and helped her in. I smiled at them. I find their love for each other magical. This couple, closer to a hundred, have probably been together for many more years than they’ve been apart. They’ve been through raising their children probably have grandchildren and even great grandchildren. While I’m sure they’ve had difficulty in their marriage, they’ve stayed true to each other and are simply enjoying a meal in each others presence at Shari’s.
I’m certain this will be my husband and I many years down the road; except, being an independent minded woman I may try to pick up my own oxygen tank first and then resign to the fact(after trying for a few minutes) that I’m unable. He’ll let me try a few times with a knowing smile, gently pick up the oxygen tank, and put it in the booth beside me. Then, he’ll take my hand and lift me into a booth as we enjoy a dinner that we believe to be worthy of our failing taste buds.
Then, during the time it took me to write a sentence, they began to argue. They bickered a little louder. He began to say to her that she was always nagging him. She, who was obviously flustered, reminded him they were in a restaurant. The things they were saying were not very nice, and yet they were so petty. As an outsider made aware of their conversation by their sheer volume, I wanted to offer up a simple, “this sounds more like a misunderstanding than a real problem.”
Of course, I didn’t.
Sometimes looking from the outside changes the perspective of the situation. These two obviously irritated individuals were arguing over something so ridiculously stupid. Neither were finding the stupidity because they were so enveloped in the emotion of the moment.
Yet, even while pride was making me feel superior to their conversation, that little gut wrenching soft whisper say, “You know, you too are petty. Just tonight before you left you said some pretty mean things to your husband.” Sometimes, I just want that voice to shut up. But, deep down I know it’s true.
I look back at my marriage over the past six years of marriage and I think about how much time and energy I spent on stupid arguments. How I wish I could go back and tell myself, “sounds more like a temper tantrum over something ridiculously petty instead of a REAL problem”. Of course, we’ve had a few real problems, but the majority of the arguing in our home has been about stupid things. Things that we became caught up in and allowed our own emotion to cloud our judgement.
In Timothy Keller’s book “The Meaning of Marriage” (book review later, I swear), he points out that self-centered behavior is a root cause of many marriages he states, “Self-centeredness by its very character makes you blind to your own [self-centeredness] while being hypersensitive, offended,and angered by that of others”. The antedote or solution he recommends is “if two spouses each say, ‘I’m going to treat my self-centeredness as the main problem in the marriage ‘ you have the prospect of a truly great marrriage.”
I love that.
I know, it’s not very common in our culture to talk about self-centeredness as we hear all the time, “Look out for yourself” “Do what you want to do” “Do what makes you happy”. But, Jesus called me to live differently– to be counter-cultural.
In Phillipians 2:1-4, Paul writing to the Christians says, “If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.”
This week my goal is to be less self-centered. To anticipate and put my husbands needs above my own. I’m going to look at my motivations and evaluate whether my issues are really problems or just petty controlling non-issues. I bet my week will be better and my marriage will improve.
What are some goals your working on right now? What are some things God is doing in your heart?