I took our kids to the grocery store last week after school.
One child - who shall remain nameless – whined incessantly up and down every single aisle. I almost set her on the Clearance rack next to all of the weirdly flavored jars of jelly that will eventually end up in landfills and walked away.
With blood, sweat, and only a few tears of my own, I managed to get our bags of groceries into the car, as well as our children.
On the way home, the Whiny One Who Shall Not Be Named was given orders to remain silent – lest her words be used against her in all future decisions on the writing of our family’s will.
And it worked – mostly because there was a bribe for cheese crackers included. At least, it worked until she started screaming that she had to go potty.
We were still two city miles from home.
The inside of our mini-mini van became filled with the sounds of the end times. Our four-year-old yelled, “I HAVE TO GO POTTY!” While I yelled, “HOLD IT! HOLD IT! HOLD IT! WE ARE ALMOST HOME! HOOOOLD IIIIIIIIT!”
I called Husband to tell him to run out the front door to grab Nameless and bring her inside right now. He didn’t answer his phone.
I called three more times over the course of our two-mile marathon home. No answer.
I assumed he was still at school working, and that is why he didn’t have his phone on him, turned up and ready for my every beckoning.
We practically skidded to a stop in front of our house. I ran our daughter to the house, struggling to find keys and unlock doors so that I get her inside. I was still yelling at her to hold it, which she did. She made it to the toilet without a single drop in her underwear. It was either a miracle or it was props to her ability to exaggerate. I would be surprised by neither.
I turned around to run back to the car. I was metaphorically relieved until I heard someone yell from upstairs, “Hey, Jocelyn!”
It might as well have been the Devil incarnate, but in fact it was my husband. He was not at school working. He was at home, not answering his phone when I needed him to.
Because I am his mature bride of six years, I yelled back up the stairs at him, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!” Then I slammed the door and ran outside to the car to get our other kid.
Oh my goodness, I was so angry. I could have taken a knife and slashed his upper man thighs:
How dare he not answer his phone. How dare he make me do EVERYTHING around here. How dare he make me watch the kids and clean the house and get groceries and keep our spawn from peeing on themselves in the car! HE’S THE WORST!
Because my life motto is “forgive and forget,” I threw grocery bags around our kitchen and huffed and puffed things into our fridge and cupboards.
Husband came over and lightly kissed me on the cheek, and then slowly retreated back from my clearly drawn enemy lines.
I walked upstairs to put away the toiletries I bought at the grocery store. When I reached the top of the stairs from where I first heard of his phone betrayal, I looked into our bedroom and saw multiple piles of folded laundry.
Clarification: While Husband’s phone was on silent downstairs in our kitchen, he was upstairs folding the giant pile of laundry that I threw all over our bedroom floor earlier that morning.
Important Interpretation: While I was busy accusing him of never helping me, he was busy helping me.
Immediately, my heart sank. I wasn’t just a little bit wrong, I was wrong wrong.
I assumed the worst of my husband, and along the way I had been a jerk.
Later, after I napped and changed my tampon because my period never ever affects my hormonal state of mind, I went back downstairs and sat next to Husband and said, “I’m sorry.”
He said, “It’s okay.”
I said, “No it’s not, but will you please forgive me?”
He said, “Yes, I will always forgive you.”
So often I want someone to place my blame on and point my fingers at when something is actually very wrong in my own heart.
This is the worst side of me. And unfortunately, because Husband is so close he sleeps next to me every night, he often gets that worst side of me thrown at him like a pile of bricks.
Thankfully, Husband promised he’d stick around during my worst, but I know that our marriage thrives when I give him the benefit of the doubt. This doesn't mean that he never makes mistakes. This doesn't mean that he will always do things like parenting, driving, or folding laundry exactly the same way I do them.
But it does mean remembering that he's a guy who has proven himself faithfully loving to me again and again.
It does mean that in an argument or miscommunication, I don't immediately assume he is trying to hurt my feelings.
It does mean that we create a safe place for each other in our homes where we always assume neither of us is the enemy. That we are both on the same team.
So, to save yourself a little embarrassment, please learn from me and that one time I accused my husband of never helping me while he was indeed helping me. Keep saying sorry when you're either a little bit wrong, or wrong wrong. And be a spouse who gives the other the benefit of the doubt.
This isn't an easy kind of kindness to share. But it's a learned kindness that can keep marriage a little bit happier place to be.
Grace and Peace,