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


Aha! Moments


Acadia National Park, Maine (Photo by Michele Huey)
Acadia National Park, Maine (Photo by Michele Huey)

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Jesus, as quoted in Matthew 11:28 (NIV)

I’d been feeling overwhelmed and down-in-the dumps for quite a while. So last month I escaped for a week to a writers’ conference, where someone else planned and prepared the meals and cleaned up after. There was nothing I had to do but eat, write, and rest (and call my hubby each evening to say goodnight and “I love you”).

Then I came home—and back to reality.

But my trip wasn’t all for naught. One of the things I’d acknowledged while I was away was I hadn’t been taking time to pray, read the Bible, and meditate on it—to be still and listen for God’s voice. No wonder I felt adrift in a sea of too-much-to-do-and-not-enough-time-to-do-it. I’d be off and running, checking off tasks from the day’s list of things to do as soon as my bare feet touched the morning floor.

Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). The Amplified version uses the term “overburdened.” That I was—and weary, so very weary.

So the first thing I did when I returned home was to put God back where He belongs and began my day with prayer and Bible reading. I love lists and schedules, but I’ve found a Bible reading schedule with dates doesn’t work for me. I get behind, feel pressured to catch up, then give up.

But while I was away, God reminded me of the Quiet Time Bible gathering dust on my bookshelf. It’s organized with manageable readings and questions to help me ponder what I’ve read. If I miss a day, it’s no big deal because I just pick up where I left off. No catching up.

I forced myself to center down, focus, and read God’s Word slowly and reflectively. I responded to what I read by writing my thoughts and my prayers in my journal. I opened my heart, and out gushed what had been dammed up, what I’d been denying and refusing to see.

God knew all this, of course, but I needed to see it. How can I be so dense and obstinate? I wondered.

I’m learning to be still—rest—and listen for God’s voice in the quiet.

Do I hear Him every time? Not audibly, but His Spirit “eases, relieves, and refreshes” my soul (Matthew 11:28, Amplified).

I ask for guidance for a life-changing decision, and I see glimpses of how He’s leading me (Psalm 23:3). I ask for wisdom, and I recognize things I hadn’t before but were right in front of me (James 1:5).

And, in an “Aha!” moment, I realize I want an “Aha!” moment for all my struggles, all the problems and decisions I bring to my Shepherd. But sometimes—most times—God wants to lead me through a growth process instead.

Are you feeling weary and overburdened? That life is sometimes too much? That your plate is too full?

Don’t wait. Turn to your Shepherd now. Let Him lead you to a place where you’ll find rest, where He’ll refresh your spirit, and you’ll learn to cast all your “stuff” on Him, because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).

Remind me, Lord, not to rush headlong into my day, but to take time to fuel up my spirit with You. Amen.

Extra tea: Read and meditate on Psalm 23Matthew 11:28–30