My husband is wonderfully different from me. He is not as encumbered by the clock as I am. He’s much more laid back and easy going with schedules and the like. On the other hand, I am regimented in my attention to time. If we’re supposed to be somewhere at 6 p.m., I want to be there by 5:45 p.m. (probably has something to do with those “on time” awards they gave us in Sunday School when I was growing up). My husband, on the other hand, is perfectly happy with a 6:15 or 6:20 p.m. arrival. As you can imagine, this has been a source of quite a bit of tension over the years!
The “take charge” Karen has considered telling him that things start a half hour prior to the actual start (but, of course, that would be lying), or even throwing a temper tantrum to let him know how upset I get over these “insensitivities” (and that would be really ugly). I’m so thankful God has given me proper restraint and calmed me down just in time before I said anything too harmful.
God has used our differences with respect to time and punctuality to work on my heart in amazing ways. He has taught me a lot about the practical application of submission—what it really means to follow. While I am tapping my foot, hyperventilating, and anguishing, He says, Why are you so anxious? Just breathe. Wait on George’s lead. Trust Me. And guess what happens? We arrive. Okay, we’re a bit late, but the earth doesn’t stop rotating on its axis, and it doesn’t take long before we’ve forgotten that we arrived late.
And He uses our differences to develop the fruit of patience in my anxious heart. How else could I learn what patience really looks like apart from being forced into some circumstances that have no escape hatches? No other options other than to just wait.
In the final analysis, it’s actually such a little thing. And isn’t it confounding how such little things can morph into something huge and out of control? There are just a few minutes that separate my sense of punctuality from his sense of acceptable lateness, but they can expose heart attitudes that need the healing that only comes from God.
In the laboratory of marriage, I think God uses our spouses to expose the true nature of our hearts. And I think His desire is that when our differences flare up, we focus on what is going on in our own heart. Why am I so angry? What do my feelings reveal about my heart condition? How can I manage my attitude better when this happens again? Is the fruit of my heart something that honors or dishonors God?
“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Col. 3:12).
Yes, we’re wonderfully different, and that’s not only a good thing, that’s a God thing. How about you? How are you and your husband different, and how is God using those differences to grow you spiritually?