So I was kinda mean last week.
Actually, truth be told, I was really mean.
Stomping around the house, throwing things in the trash, grumping on my husband no matter what he said kinda mean.
He saw the angry side of me.
Not that he hasn’t before.
If we’re being honest here, he’s seen it more times than I care to admit.
He ‘s told me more than once that one of the things he loved most about me when we were dating was my spunkiness and firey temper.
I’m not sure if all these twenty-some years later he’d say the same.
I’m used to loud arguing and getting over it. He hates that. Quiet talking and peaceful resolve are more his style. All these twenty years, I’ve had to smother my anger and learn how to live without it.
Put it in the grave and nurture the tree called gentleness that’s planted in the dark dirt near the headstone.
Angry wants to rise up sometimes.
Claw her ugly way out and dance on the grave and mock the gentle tree that grows taller each year but still shows it’s fragility on those days when it’s not facing the Son.
It makes him crooked when we argue, he tells me.
It twists his heart up and he can’t think of life being right and he’d do anything in his power to fix it.
He wants unity between us.
But it’s not peaceful when I’m cranky and ornery and being mean.
It tears up our household. It tears up him.
And it tears up me.
I don’t like being mean. I don’t like feeling mean and I certainly don’t enjoy the cranky feeling that overtakes an overwhelmed mama when there’s so much do that she can’t see the light of day and no one else can seem to see things the way she does and she’s just carrying it all ON HER OWN.
Being mean is feeling like the lonely girl who’s pouting as she sits in the car alone because she threw a fit on the way home and now no one wants to be around her so they left her just sitting there in the cold car parked in the driveway.
Left with her ugliness.
But too stubborn about protecting it to get out of the car.
Deep down though, she’s lonely and crying.
So when we ignore the advice of the sweet elderly couple at our wedding reception…those ones long gone now…that pair who’d weathered life and loss and decades and death…that precious woman who lifted her sweet little wrinkled gnarled finger to the two of us standing there in ivory and said
“This is the secret. Don’t be mad when you go to sleep. You fight, you work it out. Before you go to sleep. Over fifty years. That’s the secret.”
But when we’re sitting in the car alone we forget her face and forget what she said.
So the next morning I sat with my Bible and my coffee, and even though we’re told to leave the altar and reconcile our differences, I tried to read anyway because angry people need Him and somehow just having that Book there in my lap with words red and history true, well, just that alone will start a gal on the path to reconciliation…then in walks my husband, just waking up and with a peacemaker’s smile…
…he washed my feet.
The kids still quiet in bed and the house still sleeping, he went to the bathroom and he got the nail polish fixings and he came back and he put my feet on the footstool and he started painting my toenails.
His big hands held the little glass bottle and I sat there quietly, my Bible and my coffee still in my lap, while he prettied my toes with my favorite red.
And when he accidentally knocked over the nail polish remover and it spilled a wood-eating mess of chemical all over our dark wood floor, he quietly and patiently got up and went to the kitchen and came back with a wad of paper towels. He gently and silently mopped up the spill and went back to work on my toes.
My Bible held me still and quiet, anchored to my seat and not breathing one word about the mess.
This was bigger than the mess and bigger than the fight and bigger than the pride and the little issues that I’d allowed to be too big the day before.
I wasn’t lonely in the car anymore.
I wasn’t sitting in the driveway feeling left and abandoned and prideful in protecting my heart with those swords that want to scratch their way up from the dirt and the depths and cut those closest to me..
I was loved.
I was accepted.
And I was forgiven.
There was a mess but it didn’t matter.
Because life is messy and sometimes it gets ugly messy and while we wouldn’t want the finish to be stripped away, when we look at the dull spot, that one that doesn’t shine quite as bright as the rest of the story…
…that spot right there is one to be remembered.
That spot right there is where something important happened and it was important enough to leave its mark.
That spot is where a knot formed and that tree just went on growing right around it.
That spot right there says “There! Right there! THAT happened to help us remember.”
That spot right there is where love grew.
And it won’t ever be perfect.
But in its imperfectness, it has a purpose.
It will be used.
It will serve.
And it will be strong.
In your anger do not sin…Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. Ephesians 4:26