A Heart Like His

Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. –Philippians 2:4 NIV

For two weeks I was able to read without a magnifying glass. Then a tiny speck appeared on the edge of the right lens of my new eyeglasses. At first I thought it was an ink spot. But cleaning the lens didn’t remove it.

Maybe it won’t get any bigger. I dreaded the thought of having to send them back. It had been wonderful, being able to see my computer screen and the printed page clearly. But a few days later, the speck expanded and resembled a chip on a windshield. In addition, a minuscule crack had appeared in the left lens.

So back to the eye doctor I went. And learned that our insurance requires them to use the company that manufactured the lenses.

“They do shoddy work,” the doctor’s assistant told me. The lenses were made too big, and the pressure of being forced into frames too small had caused them to crack.

“How long will it take—another seven to ten days?” I asked. “Maybe since this is a return due to their mistake, they’ll speed up the process?”

She shook her head. “It doesn’t matter. They don’t care. They have so much business that one customer doesn’t make a difference.”

Putting the customer first, quality products, and quality service have taken a backseat to big customers with deep pockets. Corporate hearts have hardened toward the little guy.

But before I call the kettle black, perhaps I should look into my own heart. Where have I become calloused?

Have I attended to the physical needs of others or do I just wish them well (James 2:14–16)? Do I give generously (Ephesians 4:28) or am I tightfisted with my money, possessions, time, and talents (2 Corinthians 9:6–11)?

I think of Haiti, people in Third World countries, Russian children who live in sewers, and I feel overwhelmed by the quantity and depth of the needs. I think of the many organizations that respond to these needs, and I allow confusion over which organization to donate to hold me back from giving as I should.

God wants us to have a heart like His. He commanded us to show mercy and compassion to one another (Zechariah 7:9), to act justly and to love mercy (Micah 6:8), to clothe ourselves with tenderhearted mercy (Colossians 3:12). “Having no interest in or concern for other people, their needs, and activities”* is indifference, another of the subtle sins God has brought to my attention.

When I was a little girl, I used to lie in bed at night, dreaming of going to Third World countries to help others. My desire to make a difference was so strong, I couldn’t get to sleep. My heart would break when I’d see the aged, the blind, the crippled, the infirm, the helpless. I wanted to do something. I even looked into the Peace Corps when I was in college.

But somewhere along the way, I lost that passion to help others. My life, by my own choices, took a different direction. Then God used my flippant response to a local tragedy to show me how far I’ve gotten from that tenderhearted young girl and the places in my heart that have become hard, calloused. I’m too often like the priest and the Levite in Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan, who either didn’t want to take the time or get their hands dirty helping someone else.

Just like the speck in my eyeglass lens grew bigger and bigger until I had to send them back to the maker, so the sin of indifference has grown to a defect in my character.

In order to correct the flaw and for my heart to become a heart like God’s—tender, compassionate, loving—it, too, must be sent back to the Maker, who promised, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26 NIV).

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me (Psalm 51:10 RSV). Amen.

Read and reflect on Luke 10:30–37 and Isaiah 58:6–9.

 From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons, © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

*Definition from Children’s Ministry Resource Bible ©1993, Child Evangelism Fellowship Inc.

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.