Disappointing Season

Why, O my soul, are you downcast? – Psalm 42:11 NIV

Of all the months of the year, October is my favorite. There isn’t a thing I don’t like about it, except it’s only 31 days.

The cooler temperatures bring on sweater season, cuddle season, soup and stew season, and the first fire in the wood burner. The hillsides explode in brilliant splashes of scarlet, gold, orange. The shorter daylight hours hint at long, relaxing evenings by the wood burner, reading and crocheting.

Ah, autumn . . . Author Lee Maynard called it “the season of the year that God seemed to put there just for the beauty of it.”

“If I were a bird,” wrote George Eliot, “I would fly about the earth seeking successive autumns.”

This year, I wish I could fly about the earth seeking autumn! Because it certainly seems to have bypassed us in these parts.

Too much precipitation and unseasonably warm temperatures have resulted in a disappointing fall season. Rain and wind teamed up to snatch dying leaves from the trees before they had a chance to turn. Three weeks into October, the red maple in front of my house is still green, although half its leaves are gone. And how I looked forward to the bright orange glow infusing my dining room!

I took for granted the October leaves would always be vibrant, the temperatures would always turn cooler, and I would snuggle under warmer blankets. I never expected the leaves to go straight from late-summer green to drab brown, or to wear shorts and flip flops when I longed to wrap myself in my favorite sweater and putter around the house in my soft, sheep-fur-lined moccasins.

I expected October to always be brilliant and beautiful.

When our expectations collide with reality, disappointment crashes in.

My disappointment with the season pales in comparison to disappointment with the way life often turns out.

We expect good; we get bad.

We expect health, we get illness.

We expect fair weather; we get wind and rain and storms.

We expect faithfulness; we get betrayal.

We expect to enjoy a long, happy, loving marriage; we get widowhood and loneliness much sooner than we expected.

We expect a comfortable income; we get too much month at the end of the money.

We expect reward for all our hard work; we get more hard work with no reward in sight.

We expect the garden to produce a bountiful harvest. We get blight, bugs, and bad weather.

But God never promised us a charmed life, did He?

He never promised nothing bad would ever happen to us. But He does promise to work all things for our good (Romans 8:28). It may not by what we planned, but His plans are for our good (Jeremiah 29:11) and are exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20; Isaiah 55:8–9).

He never promised us a life free of troubles, trials, and tribulations. In fact, Jesus said we should expect them (John 16:33). But He did promise to be us through them (Isaiah 43:2).

He never promised to give us all we want. But He did promise to provide us with everything we need (Matthew 6:25–33, and Philippians 4:19).

He never promised we’d never be alone. But He did promise to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

He never promised we wouldn’t suffer the pains of growing old, but He did promise to sustain and carry us through our golden years (Isaiah 46:4).

He never promised other people, particularly those we love, wouldn’t disappoint us. But He did promise to be all we need (Lamentations 3:21–26).

He never promised us a battle-free life. But He did promise us victory (John 16:33).

His Word is filled with His promises to His children.

The world, your family, your friends, your life may disappoint you.

But God never will.

When I’m enduring a season of disappointment, Lord, help me to hear Your whispers of hope. Amen.

 Read and meditate on Psalm 42.

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Surviving Marriage

Me and Dean at Fort Mackinac, Michigan, June 2018

Two are better than one. – Ecclesiastes 4:9 ESV

It’s been three weeks since Dean retired. After decades of being home alone all day, suddenly I have him around 24/7.

I’m loving every minute of it. We’re settling into a nice routine. The biggest adjustment has been wearing my hearing aids all day instead of just in the evenings ­– a huge change for me. I like my world quiet.

But seeing the exasperated look on his face when I asked “what?” every time he said something made me realize if I want to have a long, healthy marriage in these retirement years, I’d better up my game.

DH is an easy man to get along with. He’s patient, kind, sometimes forgetful, sometimes too practical (“red neck” might be a better term), and almost always puts me first. The closest we ever come to fighting is when I try to pry out of him where he wants to eat out.

His answer is always, “Wherever (or whatever) you want. If you’re happy, I’m happy.”

Okay, I can settle for that.

On his wedding day, my oldest son texted me these words: “I finally have what I saw growing up in you and Dad.”

I never realized we were being an example to our kids. I was just trying to survive.

But we’ve more than survived marriage. We’ve thrived.

Me and Dean, December 22, 1973

In 45 years, I’ve learned a few things that have contributed to the difference between “survive” and “thrive.”

First, I’ve learned the importance of communication. Of listening to what he says and what he doesn’t say. Of listening with not just my four ears, but my heart. I’ve learned the wisdom of Proverbs 18:13 and James 1:19, but it’s still hard not to jump in with my two cents or finish his sentences.

I’ve learned to talk things over with him and include him in the decision-making, especially with finances. I value his input and don’t feel as though I’m carrying the burden all by myself.

It took me a long time, but I’ve learned to control my anger. I used to be a rage monster. But God lovingly worked on and in me.

I’ve learned the importance of forgiveness, both giving it and asking for it. Offenses can be intentional, unintentional, and perceived. I’ve learned to get over it. Dwelling on things, stewing, simmering eventually leads to the pot of bitterness boiling over. Once again, prayer is the key.

Which brings me to probably the most important lesson of all: the value of prayer. Daily, consistent, persistent, spontaneous prayer. I pray for Dean every day. I pray for our relationship, circumstances, situations, and issues we’re dealing with. I pray for myself – that I would be the wife he needs, the helper suitable for him.

I like the way the Amplified version expands on the word “helper” in Genesis 2:18. A helper is one who balances the other, a counterpart who is suitable for and completes the other person, who brings out his good qualities.

January 2016

And finally, I’ve learned what love is all about. It’s keeping the romance alive. It’s not taking him for granted. It’s noticing and showing appreciation for the little things. It’s taking time for and with each other, doing something fun together.

And it’s wearing my hearing aids when he’s around . . . funny, but now I rather like my world a bit noisier. 

Lord, help me to be the person my spouse needs. Help me truly to be the other half of a whole You have ordained. Amen.

Read and meditate on Ecclesiastes 4:9–12; Genesis 2:18–24.

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.