The other night, I was overwhelmed.
I had made a fairly complicated dinner which required the use of approximately ten thousand dishes. What dishes I didn’t use to cook the meal were pulled out to eat the meal, so the sink was holding nearly everything from the cupboards with a nice overflow all over the countertops. The girls had been in fine form most of the evening, talking super loudly all through dinner, in between the spurts of argumentative poking at one another that they’re so skilled at doing. I’d idiotically decided to start the week’s laundry around the same time, so the washer was full of clothes that needed to be hung up to dry, and the dryer was buzzing at me every five minutes.
Dirty dishes. Laundry waiting. Girls chattering like monkeys. Overwhelmed.
“Do you need some help?,” Wes asked, as I moved around the kitchen, trying to get everything done and holding on desperately to at least the appearance of having it all together.
“Would you mind taking out the trash?,” I asked, thinking that even this small task would be very welcome.
“Not at all!,” he said cheerfully, glad to do it.
“Thank you,” I told him, honestly meaning it. I went on about my work, taking the laundry out, shooing the girls on to their rooms so I could get the dishes started, and going over to the trash can to scrape off a plate, only to discover that there was no garbage bag there.
Wes had taken out the garbage, but he hadn’t put a new bag in its place.
No big deal, right?
Probably not if you’re sane and all, but this is me we’re talking about.
“You took out the garbage,” I said.
“Sure did!,” he said from where he was now reclining on the couch.
“You didn’t put a new garbage bag in the trash can,” I said.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” he said. “I must have forgotten. Want me to do it now?”
I looked at him for a minute. He looked at me.
And I had a moment.
Here’s the thing about me and “help.” I’m a homemaker. I haven’t worked outside the home in nine years. When I gladly embraced this role and watched Wes go on to work to carry the entire weight of providing for our family, I knew it was going to cost him to do that. So, I committed to making our home a haven for him. It will likely make feminists everywhere cringe to hear these words typed, but I was going to be all about making that man happy. He would be the king of the castle, y’all. He would never have to lift a finger around the house. He would come home from a hard day and REST. Blissful, peaceful, amazing rest. He would rise up and call me blessed because I was going to do this thing RIGHT.
So, I don’t often take him up on his offers to help. He works hard so I can stay at home, so I’m going to work just as hard at home to honor him and bless him.
But when I do welcome his help… well, I’m not very welcoming.
As we stared at each other, I remembered all the wonderful things I believe and strive for, like making him the king of the castle, blessing him, loving him, and appreciating all the big things he does like provide for our family. And I said to myself, “What’s one missed garbage bag, really? Absolutely nothing! Praise him at the city gates, girl! He took out the trash!”
No, that’s not what happened.
I looked at him for a minute. He looked at me. And I LOST IT.
You know that scene in The Wizard of Oz where the Wicked Witch of the West is melting? “I’m melting! I’m melting! What a world!” Yeah, it was a little like that, right there in my kitchen. “The garbage! The garbage! What a world!” Not pretty.
I’ve often said that I didn’t know just how rotten and awful I was until I got married. There’s wonderful freedom in being completely uncensored with someone else… and terrible horror in being completely uncensored with someone else. Maybe other married people aren’t as nuts as we are, but we know one another’s crazy better than we know our own. (And his crazy has become my crazy and vice versa. One flesh, y’all. Wonderful and terrible all at the same time.)
Why is it that the little things can become big things? Why is it that a tiny frustration that’s not even warranted (seriously, it was a garbage bag!) can upend everything that I believe and know to be true? Why is it that I say one thing and do another? It reminds me of that passage in Romans, where Paul says…
For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, my sinful nature… What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Paul got it. And I get it, too. Because that’s the story of my life!
The garbage can story is a very silly example of my sin problem, obviously, but wow, does it perfectly illustrate what happens SO OFTEN in our lives. We’re following Christ, doing what we know will draw us closer to Him, setting our eyes on Him, and before we know it, the tiniest, slightest, smallest distraction is pulling us from His side. A critical thought. A careless word. Just something small, a “little” sin problem, and before we know it, we’re farther away than we could have ever fathomed. Who is this shrieking harpy who didn’t want her man to lift a finger but how DARE he not replace that garbage bag?! Who is this critical, angry believer who prayed that she would be love and mercy for Christ’s glory but is struggling to even LIKE people today?
I’m so convicted that the little things become big things far too often. It’s times like these when I really let my true colors show that I’m reminded of how desperately I need Christ and how there is definitely NO good in me apart from His grace.
Praying to follow Him better. Praising Him because only He can make it possible!