I was thinking about giving up something for Lent.
What if I gave up my right to get irritated at Jake?
Is that even possible?
Saturday was a good day, a J-and-S, we call them, a day when Jake and I do nothing but something together all day long.
We drove to a new-to-us state park in the South Mountains and hiked upupupupUP to see a waterfall, then more UP and around and back downdowndown.
It was strenuous and I was totally ka-put by the time we got to the parking lot.
I love doing adventures with Jake.
But I don’t love that we had two tiffs while driving there.
You know how it goes.
“Well, it’s because YOU said . . .”
“No, I didn’t. I didn’t say that. YOU didn’t hear me.”
“But you DID say….”
“But I didn’t mean ….”
Voices raise. Blame and defensiveness, Back and forth. Never ends well.
Why does this happen the most often with the people you love the most?
I really hate that.
So there I was, sitting in the front passenger seat of the van in a small and stupid argument with my husband, when I had an epiphany.
And the van became a holy place.
Tit-for-tat bickering with Jake is anathema to me. I have good reason to hate it (that I won’t describe here) and I have had repeated resolve to not allow it between Jake and I.
But I fail.
It seems as I get older, I squabble at him more. I get defensive and I want to prove my position and correct his wrong thinking and make sure he knows I am right and it never works out and we both get hurt and anyone around gets hurt, too, and it is disgusting.
So sitting there in the van going down the road, after the second spat with my dear husband, I realized:
This is insanity.
I am trying to do the impossible. We are incapable of figuring out what went wrong, of uncovering faulty assumptions, and even if we could, we would not be able to fix or change anything.
We will NOT get better at communicating, and because we are aging, our physical hearing and mental attentiveness are diminishing, so we are going to have MORE misunderstandings, so — deep breath — we have to get better at forgiving.
I remember a dear friend telling me with a twinkle in her eye, “Sarah, they say you mellow as you age, but we know differently, don’t we?”
Yes, I do know differently.
I know I need God.
God can help me know: We do and will miscommunicate, but it’s okay.
God can help me forgive: Jake doesn’t get it, and I must stop keeping score.
God can help me repent: I am lame at on-going forbearance.
God can change me.
During those moments in the van, I felt shushed.
Most of the time hiking I did not talk, climbing slowly beside that loud, ‘shushing’ waterfall.
Three days later: I was in the hospital getting an infected appendix cut out.
There is no use asking the doctor what should I stop or start doing to avoid this problem in the future.
The thing is cut out.
So, I have had a lot of time this week to think. I have decided, yes, it is a good idea to give up the right to get irritable at Jake.
But not just for Lent.
For God. And I hope He shushes it out of me.