“Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it – not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it – they will be blessed in what they do.” James 1:23-25
I’ve been dealing with a petulant child lately. Nothing extreme, no big melt downs. Just a perpetual pout and the occasional stomping of a foot.
Before I confuse too many people, I am not referring to any of my own children. In fact, I’m not referring to an actual child at all! I’m referring to my “inner toddler”.
I’m being stretched in some fantastic ways lately. Getting a chance to read through The Respect Dare by Nina Roesner has been such a powerful experience for me. The reading of each chapter goes so quickly and the dares look deceptively simple since they are handful of questions to answer or a set of seemingly simple instructions to write down a few sentences or statements. When I sit down to actually carry out the dares, I discover that they are digging deeply into who I am and the “baggage” (both good and bad) that I brought in to my marriage.
But then it happens. That little girl inside me sticks out her lower lip and says, “I don’t wanna.” Let me make something very clear. This is not about the book directly. It’s more about my attitude. See, I want an escape clause. I know that scripture tells me to respect my husband and the implication is that I am to do so unconditionally. But there is a selfish part of me – larger than I would like to admit – that wants an out. I want a deadline – “If he isn’t a better husband by ___________________, the spouse is no longer obligated to . . . ” You get the idea.
We are an instant gratification society. But marriage doesn’t instantly work perfectly; it doesn’t instantly make the two in the relationship happy. Most of us would be happy if it just consistently got better day after day!
There I was, implementing my dares, trying to do the right thing. My prayer life is far more active than ever before (part of a recent dare!) and the growth and learning I’ve already gleaned from the book keeps running through my head. But that doesn’t mean the aforementioned toddler is behaving herself!
Earlier today, we were discussing finances (Christmas shopping has begun and we have a budget that we need to watch carefully). My inner toddler started whining – “He doesn’t trust me.” “He’s being mean and telling me I’m stupid.” I kept my mouth shut because I didn’t trust myself to speak. Hubby noticed and asked why I was so quiet. I was honest and said that discussing finances with him makes me nervous because it has been a hot button topic for us in the past. He assured me that he was simply trying to think through what we had already purchased and what we still needed to purchase and that he was in no way trying to be negative. And that’s where it ended. Not a great victory, I know, but we didn’t get into a knock-down, drag-out fight so I’ll take it.
After running errands/doing a little more shopping and using an early Christmas gift of cash to purchase a fast food supper we were relaxing at home when all of a sudden hubby looked at me and said, “I’m really proud of how creatively you’ve stretched the budget and at how diligently you’ve been tracking your purchases and staying well-within the budget.” Wow. It ain’t moonlight and roses but it isn’t typical for us either! It’s a little victory and a baby step in a new direction. I’ll take it!