Reflections Day 1: Forest Fires and Unmet Expectations

Love Dare #1: Resolve to demonstrate patience and to say nothing negative to your spouse at all. If the temptation arises, choose not to say anything. -S. Kendrick

Reflections from Brent:

Two thoughts from today. 1) Coffee Mug 2) Forest Fires

1) Coffee Mug – Every morning I come downstairs and open the dishwasher searching for a stainless steel, Eddie Bauer, coffee tumbler. It’s officially not even mine. Somehow it was one left at my apartment over 8 years ago before I married Becky. After an attempt to send it back to the original owner through the mail (they said to keep it), I adopted it. It has become somewhat of a security blanket for me. I drink at least 2 rounds of coffee from it daily.

It was nice when I first inherited it. Now it is a little scratched, the “Eddie Bauer” logo is long gone, and it can be left anywhere in the house or dropped and it doesn’t matter. It’s my functional, stainless steel mug. However, in our china cabinet we have multiple coffee cups that I have only drank from 2 times. It’s beautiful china my wife inherited from her mom. It’s safe to say that I don’t drink casually from them. I don’t leave them on the train table in the boy’s playroom.

The china cup IS a coffee cup BUT it is not JUST a coffee cup.

In 1 Peter 3:7 Peter tells husbands to “be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you in the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” The idea here is that our wives are china… porcelain… not stainless steel mugs to be tossed around carelessly.

Today as I’ve reflected on not saying negative words to Becky I’ve thought about how she’s set apart in our home… like fine china. I should take into great consideration how I speak to this woman who is an equal heir with me in God’s grace.

2. Forest Fires – Men love fire. We love campfires. We like to start them, stoke them, pour kerosene on them, and juggle hot coals from them. We love fireworks. The bigger explosion the better.

James (Jesus’ younger brother) says that our tongue is like a tiny spark that sets a whole forest ablaze. Since the book of James is short, to the point, and blunt. I will keep # 2 the same. I and other men are fools when we walk around our home starting forest fires over silly things – dinner not being on time, toothpaste being squeezed from the wrong end, laundry not folded, or fill in the blank. Maybe I and other men need to work on kindling the fires of romance if we like fire so much.
Reflections from Becky:

I’m liking this “numbering the thoughts” idea. I will do the same. Yesterday’s challenge brings two words to mind: 1. Steve Green 2. Expectations

1. Steve Green – The boys have the Hide ‘Em In Your Heart CD set. You know the one… Steve Green leading a group full of little voices, singing Scripture in song.

Yesterday, I kept hearing Steve’s happy voice, singing in my ear, “Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right.” Proverbs 20:11. It is rare that you will hear me take a huge stab with my words at Brent. We usually don’t operate in malicious talk. We are much more subtle and non-verbal.

I caught myself, several times, holding my tongue, but saying the same thing with my body language. An over-exaggerated “Sigh” or loud “huff” or shutting the cabinet a little hard. All this my non-verbal attempt at making my “I’m frustrated at you” statement.

Did I hold my tongue? Yes. Was my conduct “pure and right”? Not even close.

The Lord revealed to me that my actions can carry the same negative weight as my words. They communicate the same. So mid-day, I revised my Love Dare #1. I started “demonstrating patience” in speech and actions toward Brent.

2. Expectations – I asked the Lord to show me my “triggers”. What triggers frustration in me? What triggers a verbal or non-verbal reaction.

Results: Across the board…unmet expectations.

Example: I went for a run at 9am. I would be back at 10:45. Brent told me before I left that he would do his best to have the house straightened up so we could leave when I got back. When I got home, I “expected” that we would be leaving soon thereafter. Well. The house was clean. (Thanks, Honey) But the boys were still in their PJ’s and the playroom upside down.

So my sinful response is to say something like, “What have you all been doing? What’s Daddy doing? Why are you all still in your PJ’s?” I tend to do this a lot. Direct my frustration at Brent in rhetorical questions to my children. All questions indicating my disappointment that Brent didn’t meet my expectations.

Ugh. Aren’t you glad you aren’t married to me?

As silly as all of this sounds … these are the things that drive wedges between spouses.

The little things.

If left to my flesh, I could have stayed frustrated at Brent all day about something so petty.

Are you feeling me?

But I didn’t. I CHOSE to “lead my heart”… to be thankful for the five other rooms he did straighten up, and just clean the playroom myself.

I am learning, in many areas, to hold life much more loosely. To celebrate the glass half full. To rejoice and give thanks for the five clean rooms, instead of criticize the one left undone.

While we are making lists, Brent will find this by his Eddie Bauer mug this morning. A little list of 10 things I love about him. They range from silly to serious. It took me, maybe, five minutes. Just a way to encourage him and pursue this “beautiful and priceless gift” of marriage.

Just a thought.

Speaking of thoughts, we’d love to hear yours.

3 thoughts on “Reflections Day 1: Forest Fires and Unmet Expectations

  1. OH MY Becky, I do the same exact thing to my wonderful husband…unmet expectations … huffs, loud sighs, questions like "what have you guys been doing?!", all of it ….. ugly. Keeping the focus on what he's done RIGHT does wonders for my heart AND our relationship. Loving this marriage challenge you and Brent are doing. Monica's friend in Ohio, Stephanie Pohler

  2. Oh ya, those dreaded unmet expectations! They have definitely been a source of contention for us (OK, mainly me) through the years. I can tell that I've come a long way, though! Last week, a similar situation (to what you described) happened, & I calmly said that I was trying not to be frustrated about it. That night, my mister told me he was proud of how I responded & that he was sorry he hadn't cleaned up after himself & the kids! 🙂

I means so much to hear from you!

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