Photo courtesy of Ken Banks, kiwanja.net
Photo courtesy of Ken Banks, kiwanja.net

Live in harmony with one another. – Romans 12:16 (NIV)

I often complain to my husband of nearly 43 years that I feel more like his personal assistant than his wife. Filling out forms, researching information online, scheduling appointments, and making phone calls add to an already overloaded to-do list. The paperwork is the worst.

“You have no idea of the time it takes,” I grumble. “I have other stuff I have to do, you know.”

But Dean works 11-hour days five days a week then comes home to an evening of more work around the house and property. He doesn’t have time for the plethora of paperwork that comes with living these days, especially when you’re planning retirement.

And filling out forms is not always quick, easy, or simple.

Take, for example, the form I completed for him last week—one of those labeled “EZ.” The directions, which I dutifully read first, said the form “on average will take 30 minutes to complete. This includes the time it will take to read instructions, gather the necessary facts and fill out the form.”

“Yeah, right,” I muttered—and timed myself.

Over an hour later—and I’d had the facts they wanted at my fingertips—I finished, except for one box, which needed a simple “yes” or “no” answer. Dean was to ask a co-worker who’d already gone through the process about it, so I called him. The co-worker told him to call Brenda at the organization. Two phone calls later, I reached Brenda, who gave me the information I needed, and I finished the form. All it needed was Dean’s signature.

Feeling accomplished, I texted Dean with a list of things I’d already done that morning — “all before breakfast,” I boasted.

“Forget the form,” he texted back. “I’ll work ‘til I die.”

What? Where did that come from?

When he came home from work, he apologized for the text and explained why he sent it.

“You listed all these things you did, and I thought you meant you didn’t have time to do one more thing,” he said.

Oh. That was where it came from.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “That wasn’t what I meant, but I can see how you’d take it that way. I do complain about being your personal assistant at times, don’t I?”

We kissed and made up, and I deleted the text. But I can’t delete how those words made him feel on a hot, busy, frustrating day at work. Or how his words made me feel.

It isn’t always easy to forgive and forget. We hold onto hurts, nursing grudges, sometimes about a perceived offense the other person has no clue about. I didn’t understand why Dean was so upset until he explained it to me.

I have to learn to be mindful of what I say in the first place. “I didn’t think” is too frequent an excuse that accompanies my apology. Think and pray first, then speak—or don’t speak.

I’ve also learned how important it is to clear up any misunderstandings right away. Molehills have a way of becoming mountains, if we let them.

Getting along with others, especially those we’re closest to, is like the paperwork I dread doing—it can get complicated and it takes time—but is so worth the effort.

Father, remind me to be “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry” (James 1:19). Amen.

Extra tea: Read and meditate on Romans 12:9–20


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