Friday, May 02, 2014

Three Delusions

"It's been said, sometimes seriously, and yet sometimes tongue in cheek, that the average person suffers from three delusions.

First, that he has a good sense of humor.
Second, that he's a good driver.
And third, that he's a good listener.

"Now I've always thought that it was pretty important to have a good sense of humor in life. I think that makes life go a little bit better. And in our civilization and in our culture, it's very very important that we're good driver.
"But of those three, the only one that's absolutely crucial to spiritual growth is that we be good listeners."

Scott Wenig, speaking at South Fellowship, April 6, 2014
Love this anecdote and intend to steal it for use in my own teaching!

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Pretty things, painful memories, and how I was surprised by wholeness

Shortly before Chris and I got married I went back to Denver to help my old housemate pack up and prepare to move out of the place we'd shared for fifteen years or so. She had been there longer than I had and faced some serious and painful downsizing. Her grandmother's china was on the got-to-go list. She offered it to me.

I was touched by the offer of these treasures and the chance to carry on some of her family history. I didn't take the boxes with me, though, since I was flying. Instead I left them for the moving truck.

We said goodbye, and I returned to Oregon to continue the task of setting up my own new household, itself complicated by the realization that Chris and I had rather different preferences for well, almost everything, it seemed. We both had sacrifices to make. The wedding registry process was rough. Neither one of us wanted to fight about things like dishes and towels or wedding music and decorations, for that matter when there were so many more important things to work out. But we were mystified by each other's preferences in each of those areas and more. I ended up taking back quite a few of the wedding presents one of us said we wanted but the other didn't like. We defaulted to what was functional and plain.

I'm not really a girly girl but was sad to have so few pretty things, and to realize that many of the pretty things I already have would probably have to stay in boxes until, maybe someday, we get a bigger place, or don't have any kids at home.

Some months after the wedding, my roommate's sister had to make a trip to Eugene and brought me the three boxes of china. She also gave me some disturbing news about my old roommate, now living with their mother in Washington. It had been a tough transition for her. As I soon discovered, the china hadn't fared well, either. I opened the first box and unwrapped a few things. How did so many of them get broken? I must have thrown some things away, then, but I pushed the boxes back and decided to deal with them later.

Later finally came just last week. Chris and Daniel were both away for the night. I steeled myself for what I thought would be a depressing task, another scene of pain, disappointment, brokenness.

But it was not. I didn't find a single broken piece of broken china, just one after another that was beautiful and whole!

What had happened? I briefly imagined that Someone had worked a frivolous miracle on my behalf, but I suppose it's more likely that I had thrown away the only broken pieces the first time I opened the boxes, not realizing the rest were just fine.

I was further surprised to realize, as I surveyed our kitchen, that I would not have to re-pack the boxes and return them to the garage. Our spacious kitchen has room. So I began using the most serviceable looking pieces, like the cups that aren't paper-thin and edged with gold! Who knows, maybe I'll have some reason to get out the really fancy ones now and again, too. (Like a visit from my old roommate, who I'm glad to say is doing much better. She mostly just needed the time to grieve and adapt.)

Looking back on those days, two years ago, when Chris and I were struggling to furnish the house, I realize how far we've come in appreciating each other's values, preferences, and perspectives. Sometimes we are even able to find things both of us like! Moreover, love continues to cover: we like to please each other, and that goes a long way to producing kindness, respect, and forbearance. There are lots of things I now do or think about his way, and things he does or thinks about my way. Marriage is certainly harder than living with a roommate. The stakes are higher. But, with time and patience, we're learning how to walk together.

The morning after I unpacked the china, I made breakfast for us both and served it on our "new" plates. I knew better than to offer him tea or coffee in these lovely little cups; he's not a hot-drink kind of guy and wouldn't have much use for cups that only hold a few ounces. But I'll enjoy them. And I suspect he will enjoy seeing me enjoy them, too.