Barb and I are very different in many ways; She is a ‘pack rat’, meaning she holds onto things if they have the slightest bit of sentimental value or memory attached to them, while I tend to follow the ‘If I haven’t used it in a year I don’t need it’ philosophy of storage. If I fill a large plastic trash bag full of things I don’t want any longer and set it out side to be disposed of, she walks out of the house and goes through everything I threw out just to be sure there isn’t anything ‘of value’ she wants to keep.
Although truth be told at this point in our marriage more often than not she is anticipating my actions and says: “Before you put that sack outside let me go through it”. To me that’s just plain wrong, slightly insulting, and frustrating the whole process of getting rid of things. To her it is quality control, as if some trash man would open the sack of trash and find a label saying “Inspected by Barb Fenn and proven to have nothing of value to her.”
When the Word…
…says in Ephesians 5:25-26 the husband is to love and therefore lay down his life for his wife as Christ did the church, on a practical level it means I lay down what I think is right in trash disposal and other areas, and don’t get angry at her for taking half the things out of the trash sack only to store them in the garage (which makes clutter for me).
She has an eye for detail and is very good at naturally selecting seasonal decorations that go well together; I tend to group things by symmetry. It is autumn right now in the US so she has decorated the house accordingly. All our household decorations and the ones on our front and back porches are coordinated to oranges and tans, yellows and muted reds, while I look at the pumpkins and gourds of various sizes, colors, and textures and make sure they are balanced and symmetrical. If there are 3 gourds on one side of a display and 4 gourds on the other side, something must be done to even it out – to me that is the right way to make a display, symmetrical, balanced.
We work amazingly well together in this as long as I remember she is the brains and I am the muscle. She decorates the house and porches according to what she thinks is right, then calls me in to give my opinion about how it all looks. I look at the symmetry and presentation and comment accordingly. It works. Most of the time. But that is her domain so she always has 51% of the vote, lol. Okay, maybe 95% of the vote, okay 100%, but I gladly defer to her as she is amazing and the house always looks nice and comfortable. She is absolutely right, that if I was single not a thing in the house would change by season, so she makes me look good, lol.
We will go through this process again come the first of November, for with the turn of the month we are approaching the US celebration of Thanksgiving, which means displays of turkeys and pilgrims will be added to fall decorations, replacing the ones that are strictly autumn themed. And once again boxes go into and out of the attic and garage by my strength and patience as ‘we’ decorate the house…I can hardly wait to bring out the Christmas decorations!!! LOL
I’m the one to walk into a home and first notice the picture on the wall that isn’t quite hanging level, and am tempted to put it ‘right’ with just a nudge on the low corner to bring it into balance. Barb scans the room, notices all the decorations, and compliments our host or hostess on what a beautiful home they have.
The dishwasher – argh!
A long time ago in what seems like a galaxy far, far, away, we owned a couple of pizza delivery stores. I was an unpaid Associate Pastor at the time and the pizza stores paid our bills while my heart was with the people, the church. It as at that time according to Barb, I began taking over kitchen cleaning duties at home. As the pizza stores had to be cleaned well nightly, somehow that habit carried over to the house, a chore Barb willingly turned over to me.
So now at over 39 years of marriage as I write this, the routine is set. I load the dishwasher in the evening and turn it on so that we have clean dishes in the morning. When Barb cooks she uses pots and pans, plates and measuring cups as she needs them and sets them aside. When I cook I clean everything by hand when I’m done with it. When I’m done the kitchen is clean. When she is finished cooking it looks like a tornado went through the kitchen, and she does this knowing her loving husband is coming along before bedtime to clean it all up. Hey…it works. But there are times I’m traveling or out all day and she does a load of dishes.
When she loads the dishwasher she puts forks and knives into the utensil trays points up, leaving lots of sharp points to greet my fingers as I put the clean dishes away. To me that is just wrong because I don’t want anyone’s fingers all over the fork as it was put away, that I’m later going to put in my mouth. I put the forks and knives in pointy end down into the dishwasher so when clean I can put them away without touching the pointy ends, keeping things as sanitized as they were when they came out of the machine.
Different isn’t necessarily wrong; it’s just different
Learning that different isn’t necessarily wrong was a natural thing for me as it fits my personality. By my nature I can see another person’s point of view, my point of view, and much of the time, God’s point of view and I want HIS point of view always. I will change or apologize and/or repent as soon as I see my wrong, and if the other person is wrong I expect them to apologize or repent. I’ll love them to the degree they allow me no matter what their perspective is. But generally speaking, different isn’t necessarily wrong and I will adjust and go with the flow. You must want love and peace and righteousness in life more important than being right.
Barb’s personality is very strong for righteousness and she hates sin and hypocrisy, sort of like John the Baptist or Elijah – right is right and wrong is wrong and there is no point of discussion. I love that about her, her zeal, her intensity coupled with an easy laugh and sense of humor.
But that personality and gifting means in many things her way IS the right way, end of discussion. Different to her quite often DOES mean it is wrong. Over the years I’ve become more like her, and she has become more like me. She believes the way she puts the pointy ends up in the dishwasher leads to a cleaner utensil, and that means no one eating at our house will ever get sick nor will she be embarrassed by a dirty fork set at a guest’s plate, and if you make sure your hands are clean when putting the forks and spoons and knives away, a slight touch on the eating end a week before it is next used won’t harm anything. She is completely correct of course, yet at the same time she has no problem with how I load the dishwasher.
I am also correct in the belief utensils will get just as clean my way of doing things, AND I don’t have to take the risk of handling the eating end of the utensil. Both of us are right, both of us are wrong. Genesis 5:2 says of the Lord; “He called their name Adam in the day in which they were created.” Eve did not receive her name until after they had sinned. All the time before that they two were called Adam, for out of him she had been fashioned, so the two of them were truly two parts of one person.
Submit doesn’t mean obey
We do as Ephesians 5:21 says, submit one to another. Submit doesn’t mean obey. Submission is a condition of the heart. Obedience is an action. I am always submitted to my wife as she is always submitted to me, but we don’t always obey one another as in the examples above. When I set the trash out and she ‘disobeys my wishes’ she is still submitted to me in every way. We make allowances for one another. It’s called love.
The Lord had finished creating at the end of day 6, and He wasn’t about to start again, so when Adam determined he needed a mate, the Lord had to use what He had on hand – what He had previously created. Thus the word ‘formed’ is used of her body, not created. He formed her body out of material gained from Adam’s body, and He also formed her soul (emotions, reasoning, will) from his. Her spirit like ours, was created by the Father*, but the rest of her was formed out of what He had previously created. *Hebrews 12:9, Zechariah 12:1)
That meant they were 2 parts of a whole person. They were opposites of each other. Those opposite qualities were meant to compliment one another, to provide both sides of an issue to the whole, and to cause each of them to learn love and growth in Christ as they deferred to one another, recognizing their mate had qualities they lacked.
Don’t get me wrong…
There are absolutes, and if a person crosses those lines they are definitely wrong, not just different, but wrong. Right is right and wrong IS wrong. But how you remove trash, decorate the house, or load a dishwasher, it’s just different, not wrong.
This little bit of transparency into our lives is intended to be an example for others on how to get along and actually love the differences in your mate or friend or relative – and while there can be and often is tension between us as we each (with raised voices sometimes) put forth what we think is right, we both work at love to dispel the tension and one of us will end up making the decision by mutual agreement, and the other will be at 100% peace. Of course we each reserve the right to say “I told you so”, lol.
Love righteousness and therefore love right-ness in your life, more than loving being right. Humble yourself to your mate, friend, relative, neighbor when righteousness says what you think is right is actually wrong in their eyes, and keep the peace, grow in love.
The last of this series next week…I think…until then, blessings,
John (and Barb) Fenn