Pockets

 

Let us turn away from everything wrong, whether of body or spirit, and purify ourselves, living in the wholesome fear of God, giving ourselves to him alone. —2 Corinthians 7:1 TLB

I love pockets! Into them I cram the bits and pieces of my daily life—stuffing from the dog’s chair, paper clips, pens, screws, fingernail clippers, gum wrappers, pop bottle caps, rubber bands, used and unused tissues, receipts, keys, loose change, buttons, even the cat’s shed hair.

One pocket is not enough. I like at least two. Into the left pocket I put the things I will throw away. Into the right pocket go the items I’ll either use soon or need to put where they belong. At the end of the day I empty my pockets. It wouldn’t do to carry today’s debris around with me tomorrow, and neglecting to remove a tissue buried deep in the pocket of a pair of jeans that later get tossed into the washing machine can get messy. The items in my right pocket are put where they belong—in a cupboard, closet, or drawer. Tomorrow I will start my day with pockets clean and ready.

I have “spiritual” pockets, too. In them I stuff the bits and pieces of my spiritual life. Deep in my left pocket I push that exaggerated truth, twinge of envy, thoughtless remark, moment of discontent, act of selfishness, word of gossip, and bitter feelings. Into my right pocket go the things I often need at my fingertips: honesty, forgiveness, gratitude, compassion, kindness, gentleness, and humility.

Like my physical pockets, my spiritual ones also need to be emptied and scrutinized every day. Disposing each day of the accumulation in my left pocket through confession makes tomorrow’s lighter to carry and quicker to discard. Too often, however, I don’t dig deeply enough, and bits and pieces of an overlooked “tissue” cling to the fabric of my life. That’s why it’s important to ask God to show me what I’ve missed. After I’ve cleaned out my left pocket, I sort through the contents of my right pocket and apply them where they belong—to a relationship, attitude, habit, or perspective.

And tomorrow I start over, with pockets clean and ready.

Father God, keep Your hands in my pockets. Amen.

Read and reflect on Ephesians 4:23–32.

From Minute Meditations: Meeting God in Everyday Experiences, © 2000 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.