Choosing to Make the Coffee

God presented me with two choices this morning: to start the day without love or to start the day with it. Some days, it’s hard to force ourselves to begin the day with love. But, if we follow where God leads, it’s bound to lead us somewhere good.

This morning I did something that last night I promised I wouldn’t do.

164196725Because last night, I was angry with my husband. Our argument sneaked up on us seemingly from nowhere.  It had been a pleasant night. We enjoyed “family playtime”, as our son likes to call it, during which my husband and I smiled at each other over our son’s head as he said something adorable–something I can’t recall now.  We worked together to get our son ready for bed; my husband helped him get his pajamas from the top drawer and I read books with him in bed. We worked as a well-oiled machine.

But after our son fell asleep, our machine broke down. Maybe it was exhaustion. A running out of steam. It had been a long day for both of us, a slightly later than usual bedtime for our son, and it would be followed by another long day tomorrow.  My husband was probably stressed. Tomorrow he’d have another long afternoon of coaching after a full day of teaching teenagers, followed by parent conferences, and then a one hour commute home.  I wasn’t looking forward to him being gone for another full day this week. So how did we share these frustrations with each other? By getting angry.

We lay in bed, chatting casually, when I said something that got under my husband’s skin. I didn’t intend for it to; in fact, I didn’t even see it coming. But, there it was, out there and festering. And then he rebutted. And we kept it going, volleying cutting remarks, getting the occasional one-up with a spike, until, tired of it all, we went to bed – angry. Really angry.

I promised that I would not get up with him in the morning to do my usual routine of making his coffee, packing his lunch, and blending his breakfast shake. “I wouldn’t want you to,” he retorted, eyes shut and back turned towards me. When his alarm sounded at the usual 5:45 a.m., I turned over, pulled the blankets around me tighter and stubbornly repeated in my mind, I am NOT getting up. He does NOT deserve it. I am NOT getting up. He does NOT deserve it.

God has a funny way of talking to us. Sometimes, when things are going well and I really want to hear His voice, I don’t hear it. More often, when things are going terribly, and we’re just being awful, the times when I’m usually not even thinking about God, well, those are the times I hear Him clearly. And this morning, He made Himself heard.

As I lay there, repeating my “lacklove” sentences – a word I learned from Archbishop Fulton Sheen – a thought invaded my angry mind. Would I want my son to learn to be as resentful as I was being? Don’t I try to teach him that even when we think people don’t deserve our love, that’s when they need it the most? I sighed and loosened the blankets around me a little. Still, I determined not to get up – yet.

Then, another thought. I show my son love even when I’m frustrated, even when I’m not feeling very loving or very giving, so what message does it send my husband that I do that for our child but I won’t do that for him?

And the final, most powerful thought. I don’t deserve the love Christ showed when He submitted Himself to the Cross, but He did it anyway. He loved me anyway. And I certainly wasn’t very deserving of His love as I lay there, resisting. I sighed a heavier sigh and loosened the blankets a bit more.

I opened one eye and peeked at my husband, bustling around, pulling socks from his drawer, then escaping to the shower. I opened both eyes and looked at the crucifix above the doorway to our room. And I got up.

I trudged into the kitchen and plugged in the coffeepot. I pulled out the blender and mixed a shake. I took bread from the fridge and made a sandwich. And when my husband finally entered the room, he smiled. He put his arms around me and I hugged him back, the abrupt and stiff movements of my body softened.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking, “If my spouse won’t do for me, I won’t do for my spouse.” Of thinking we will give only what we get. But, what would happen if we all started giving even when we don’t get? Especially when we don’t get?

Back when we attended Engaged Encounter, my husband and I heard the truth repeated that “love is not a feeling; it’s a choice.”  An action, something we do. Generally, we do it pretty well with our kids. After all, they need us; they demand our attention in a real, in-your-face way. And we act. We do change that diaper, give them a drink, kiss their hurts.  But, our spouses don’t come to us with such obvious needs. Often we have to seek them out, and more often, we claim we’re too tired – or too annoyed – to do so.

At Engaged Encounter, my husband and I also heard that “marriage is not a day, it’s a lifetime.” As such, we must keep making our choice to love our spouse, day in and day out, on good days and bad. When it came to my husband, I’d recently forgotten these truths.

This morning, I went into the kitchen intending for my actions to affect some goodness in my husband. Instead, getting up, doing something for him when I didn’t at all feel like it, had a huge effect on me.

Before my husband got out of the shower, before he had a chance to discover that I was up as usual, and as I stood there, scooping coffee grinds into the coffeepot, I actually felt better. The anger I was holding onto, even as I made my way out of our bedroom, dissipated and I felt at peace. I no longer needed – or wanted – an apology from my husband. This morning, I understood the words read on our wedding day, that love “does not brood over injury,” because doing so not only hurts the ones we profess to love but also hurts us (Corinthians 13:5).

God presented me with two choices this morning: to start the day without love or to start the day with it. Some days, it’s hard to force ourselves to begin the day with love. But, if we follow where God leads, it’s bound to lead us somewhere good.

Image Credit: Nautilus Shell Studios (photos.com)

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