We came home from the beach to an empty propane tank and a snow storm arriving on our doorstep. We’re in the que for warmth to come in a propane truck, but until then, we’re reminded of life in the first year of our marriage.
When we married 37 1/2 years ago, we didn’t have hot water for the first three months we were married. The deposit was $150 – and that was a heap of money for two full-time college students working part time. No phone. No t.v. No air-conditioning. A $25 a week grocery bill. Who cares about hot water when you have love? Right?
We finally got that hot water three months later. It didn’t help much when the college students living below us in the downstairs of the old apartment house went home for Christmas. They turned off their heat to save money. As a result, when we came home from work, we’d have to boil water hot enough to be thaw the water in the pipes so we could flush the toilet.
“We’re going to look back on these days as The Best Days of Our Lives,” my Forever Man said. I kind hoped that some best days were coming that held hot water and plenty of heat.
My boys are tired of that story. I spared them the gazillionith retelling while I showed the youngest son how to boil water to wash a sink full of dishes last night. Between the water boiling on the stove, the oven door cracked open at 350 degrees and the dryer heating away – the kitchen temperature was just right. I think the boys really knew more about how to tackle the mess than they let on.
Then this morning, over two pots of boiling water, the oven upped to 400 degrees, my husband working at the kitchen counter asked for some hot chocolate. Watching my progress, he suggested I set my hot chocolate pan in one of the pans of boiling water – warming it in the water bath for a quicker, move even, less scorched pot of hot chocolate – “because there’s greater surface area to heat at one time,” he explained.
Somewhere over the years, he’s grown into the smartest man in my world!
I had second thoughts about posting the second half of this post I’d written last week. Some women might be offended, I thought. But then, I thought about how I see a lot of truth of this in my life. Maybe you will, also. In a culture that continuously portrays men as stupid, Maybe this day after Valentine’s Day, a little Golden Truth could go a long way.
I have a series of relationship “lectures” chronicled in the second month of the birth (2009) of Blue Cotton Memory: The Faith, Love and Politics of Raising Boys to Men. There was The Hubba Bubba Lecture, The Your a Cake; She’s a Cake lecture, the Are You Man Enough, The Girl. Today is Sadie’s Birthday – and because Valentine’s Day was yesterday – it seems a good excuse add the newest relationship “lecture”: The Golden Message about the Difference Between Men and Women.
We’d had three collies before Sadie. Collies take seriously their responsibility protecting their herds. Our boys were their herd: loyal, friendly, shepherds, a boy’s best friend. Our collie’s were country dogs, living outside. They were all car chasers who left hearts broken. Choosing another dog left us stymied. We needed loyal, not needy (we still had three sons under 18 living at home), intelligent, friendly, a boy’s best friend – and one who had no desire to chase anything with a tire on it. Little dogs need not apply, according to the MITF (Men In The Family)
One December morning, In the parking lot of a Chick-Fil-A, on our way to The Big City for some Christmas Shopping, the back hatch of a SUV opened up and two golden retrievers jumped out, did their business in the grassy area and jumped back in to their car – no longing pauses to chase all the passing car tires, happy with each other, focused on their people. We didn’t just fall in love. . . we were sold. . .
I asked the Gold Retriever breeder Sadie came from about the personality differences between a male and a female golden retriever.
in the beginning, she told me, both the male and female had the same energy and stamina; however, in the beginning, the girl was smarter. Around age 4, the girl settled down to become a cricket by the hearth – or in our case, a rug across the kitchen floor or under anyone’s feet. However, the male’s stamina continues throughout his life – and he ends up. . . hold your breath reader. . . smarter in the long run. . . .
Pause. . . .
. . . Pause some more. . .
. . . Yes, I am going there. . .
There’s a lot of wisdom in The Life and Times of a Golden. Let’s unpack this a little.
My sons have brought a lot of friends home through their growing up years. In the teen years – boys and girls – or maybe I should say, young men and young women have sat at the kitchen counter, sitting long and talking much. Not just girl friends. . . but girls who are friends. I dished out garlic-parmesan biscuits with chicken and pasta, chicken noodle soup or chocolate chip cookies . We’d talk about big things and little things. However, you didn’t have to be at the kitchen counter to hear stories like these.
This lecture probably doesn’t apply to those who married in their late twenties, but for young women just out of high school, maybe even getting ready to graduate college, there’s a lot of truth.
“I bet when your mom married, she had her act more together than your dad,” I’d say. Yeah, newlyweds are in it together, but women organize that new life together, from creating home, the menus, often the social scheduling – whether they work outside the home or not. As my husband says, “Women take men out of the cave and civilize them. . . . and women want to be taken care of, whether they admit it or not. God designed man to take care of women and women to civilize man.”
Thirty-eight years ago, I would have balked at that statement. I thought I could do anything a man could do. . . No, I never beat my husband at tennis, but I thought I could. . . at least until my 12 year old son didn’t need help moving a chair I couldn’t lift. There’s a big difference physically in what a man can do and what a woman can do.
Thirty-eight years ago, I would have been irate if he – or any other guy – had said I needed/wanted a man taking care of me. When my dad walked away from our family, I grew up thinking I would never rely on a man. I would make sure that I could take care of myself. . . in case my husband ever walked out on me. Yeah – I was strong. I was courageous. I’ll admit that determination made up for what I lacked academically – but it enabled me to achieve what I wanted to achieve academically. Yet, I sure was weak in trust; lacking in knowledge of what a marriage looked like with trust, faith and unconditional love in it.
I was the Martha consumed about acts who needed Mary’s ability to trust in the one who loved her best – and that felt so very unsafe.
“But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” ~ Luke 10: 40-42
Yet, if the husband is supposed to mirror Christ as the bridegroom , then I am to be like Mary, trusting the bridegroom loves me, takes care of me, never leaves me, to give space for my God-designed role as well. When I am the Martha in our marriage relationship, I cannot trust my husband to be the bridegroom – the bridegroom who takes care of what is His.
“She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said,” (Luke 10:38b.). . . “it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10: 42). The bridegroom will not let anyone take away the love, the protection, the position of being His.
Maybe it takes our hands and hearts being filled with children to allow our husbands to take the reins of their God-designed position in a marriage – being overwhelmed like Martha to the point of despair – that we step back and let our bridegroom lead.
“I bet now your dad’s the smartest man in the world,” I would ask these young women – and they would agree. They couldn’t imagine their fathers any other way, their fathers who as young men who said , “I do” grew and grEW and GREW into their God-designed role.
Years ago, when I taught college composition, Cultural Definitions – and who defines our individual culture were discussion topics. For example, when they described their culture they said things like “materialistic,” “selfish,” “judgemental.” Then I asked them if their parents were materialistic, selfish and judgemental. They looked appalled. Their parents had donated to Hurricane relief, some even going to help. They were caring people who showed that to others.
What about their community? And we discussed what made up their community – and it was church, school – and activities. Was their community materialistic, selfish, judgemental? Again, they shook their heads, “No.” The news media and MTV were defining their culture, yet those adjectives did not define their zip-code culture.
Then we started talking about commercials – and the portrayal of men in commercials. I asked, “Who wants to marry an idiot?” Afterall, commercials show men needing to be led around by women, incapable of making wise decisions about anything. Not one young woman in my classes wanted to marry an idiot.
They wanted to marry someone smart with stamina for the long-journey. . . . and though they probably wouldn’t admit it, someone to take care of them, to provide for their family, someone who would allow them to be a Mary when being a Martha nearly breaks them. . . someone who would be the bridegroom like Christ to their bride.
What God thinks I should do and what I used to think I should do are two very different things. The older I get, I feel like a cricket by the hearth. I no longer want to be an over-achieving Martha – or maybe it is that I no longer want to be something God did not design me to be. I want to do the things God puts on my heart. I want to spend my life loving my Forever Man, my sons who have grown from boys to men, my lovely daughter-in-laws, and my precious grandchildren. I want to be there to encourage, to help, to love and laugh with them – and whoever else God gives me to love.
I am thankful for my Forever Man. Thankful I learned to let him be who God designed him to be, thankful that I learned to trust, to love unconditionally. Thankful that I am learning how God loves me and mine. What an amazing God we have!
So much of what I said feels like taboo topics in our culture today. Yet, it is Sadie’s birthday, the day after Valentines – and it seemed a just-right day to share my “lecture” The Golden Difference between Men and Women.
Remember Me Monday: #32 & Linky
“I’ll make a list of God’s gracious dealings,
all the things God has done that need praising,
All the generous bounties of God,
his great goodness to the family of Israel—
~ Isaiah 63:7, The Message
In the Old Testament, God repeatedly, quietly and loudly, tells his children, “You have forgotten me!” (Jeremiah 3:32, Ezekiel 22:12, to name a few). It’s a heart cry from a father to a child who has forgotten all the love, all the saving, helping, little and big blessings – and it leaves me stunned when I realize our Father, the creator of the universe, who knows things I cannot begin to fathom, who authors storylines that leave me amazed, delights in all of us so much, He cries out, “Remember Me.”
While every day is a Remember God Day, I am inviting you to join me on Monday mornings to come by and remember what God has done for you, for your family. Maybe God sent a cardinal darting out in front of you, as if to tell you, “I’m here,” or broke a child’s fever after you laid it all down at His feet in a 2 a.m. bedside vigil. Maybe He stood with you in the wait of a prayer sent out, or brought someone you loved to Christ. Maybe He healed your broken heart, gave your courage, or you gave Him your dreams as a love offering only to have Him give them back in an unimaginable way. Maybe God helped you survive to bedtime after a crazy Monday, or forgive yourself for missing it with your kiddos –– Whatever it is, let’s Remember Him. . . in a “Remember Me Monday” love letter.
“My mouth will tell of your righteousness,
Of your salvation all the day long,
Though I know not its measure.
I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, O Sovereign Lord”
~ Psalm 71:15-16.
Let us delight in Him by telling the stories of what He’s done! If you wrote a blog post remembering what He’s done for you, join the linky. If you didn’t but still want to praise Him for what He’s done – write it in the comment section. Then visit a comment before or after yours! One of the beautiful things about the blogging community is the relationships it builds!
Rules? Write long or short, a list or a story, include photos or not. Just Remember Him and what He has done, and let the gratitude of your heart guide you. Let’s make Monday so Rejoice, that the goodness of God spills into the rest of the week!
***All photos marked with Muddy Photography or © Blue Cotton Memory or used within Blue Cotton Memory blog(s) belong Blue Cotton Memory. Going forward, photos will be marked with Muddy Photography.