Because I am Completely Single

(From 2 Peter 1:2-11)

And society insists I should be whining about it. Secular society proclaims that something must be terribly amiss if I have no boyfriend while Christian society simply insinuates my second-rateness by asking, “You’re still not married?”

Because a significant other is, after all, the measure of completeness.

Step back in time with me to a day when I was at enmity with God, excluded from His promises, cut off from His mercy by my sin. Having rebelled against Almighty God, choosing myself over Him, I found myself in a place of stark emptiness, alone, accursed, afraid. Single. Strip me back to the raw bones of helpless humanity and my needs become apparent—only one: to know God. Jesus stepped in, offering His life a ransom for my sins, redeeming me into a relationship with God, saving my soul from eminent death and destruction and betrothing me to Himself for eternity. Jesus took an empty, meaningless life and hid it in His making me complete.

In Christ, God granted to me everything pertaining to life and godliness. Do I lack?

Once upon a time you, too, were incomplete. Broken. Empty. Excluded from God’s mercy. But if you know Christ, you have everything. You are complete. Society doesn’t know God and tries to fill His place with everything imaginable: talent, money, beauty, fame, intelligence, experience, health, food, power, family, friends and romance. None of these complete you. Not even having all your appendages attached and in working order makes you a complete person. Completeness is apart from anything you can touch or see. Knowing Christ, you have escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. Lust that is never satisfied, that always wants more. That we pursue until it controls us. You needn’t pursue anything but Yahweh.

Does this make “other” things evil? Not at all. Each of these things is a responsibility given by God to glorify Him. Every good thing and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights (James 1:17). He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, will He not also along with Him, graciously give us all things (Romans 8:32)? We know that God will supply all our needs according to the riches in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). Take it back to the basics and we discover that we only have one primal need—to be saved, to belong to God. Everything else is a bonus. More. Above and beyond. An overflowing cup.

If your Heavenly Father met your primal need for a Savior, so miraculously bridging the gap between fallen man and perfect deity, does He have the power and wisdom to will and to work in your life for His good pleasure? Is there really anything “missing”? Are you incomplete? Lacking something?

Of course not. You have everything you need for life and godliness. Jesus. The lover of your soul. The bread from heaven. The pearl of great price. He beautifies the afflicted with salvation. He heals the soul. He makes wise the foolish and strengthens the weak. He is a father to the fatherless and a friend to all those who call on Him.

I realize that reflecting on these almost cliché truths sets your heart at ease and puts a smile on your face—for the duration of about two minutes. Just until the next wedding announcement arrives or you climb into bed alone. When sitting patiently, singing “Jesus is all the world to me” fails to stave off those second-rate blues, forget waiting to be pursued by a man and pursue!

Pursue Yahweh--Seek to know Him intimately, what pleases and displeases Him, His goals, His purposes, His promises. While you are unmarried, you have so much time energy and emotion you could be pouring into seeking Yahweh and building a foundation that will hold strong through the rest of your life. Are you wasting that time in pining for a husband when you already have a Perfect Lover?

Pursue your family--There is no shame, no indiscretion in a girl wooing her father or brothers. Certainly none in her reaching out to her mother or sisters. While you are unmarried you have so much time, energy and emotion that you could pour into the relationships that will best prepare you for marriage and uphold you through it—the relationships God has already blessed you with. He who is faithful in small things will be given great things (Mark 25:21). Are you wasting this precious training ground by day-dreaming of “escaping” it?

Pursue relationships with other girls—When Jesus healed the Gerasene demoniac (Mark 5:1-20), the man begged to go with Jesus. His request was a good one. Your desire for marriage is also. But Jesus told him “no.” That “no” was not a punishment. It was a redirection. The Lord had work for that man to do. The result of his cheerful obedience was that, even though Jesus had to leave the area, the entire region heard the good news of Jesus’ salvation. While you are unmarried, you have so much time, energy and emotion that you could be pouring into relationships with other girls. Are you wasting it feeling sorry for yourself when others could benefit from your encouragement?

Endure! Press on! Knowing that by the testing of your faith you will be perfect and complete, lacking nothing (James 1:2-4)! Be diligent to supplement your faith with moral excellence, consistently choosing to do the right thing. Your moral excellence comes from the knowledge of Christ! You come to know Christ through self-control and diligent study of Him and His word, which requires perseverance in your desire for God. Reach out to others, be kind to others. Forget about being “in love” and love! For real.

And guess what—you’ll find that you’ve been preparing for marriage in the best way possible. Or for whatever else the Lord might throw your way. You’re not depending on a husband to complete you. Or a father. Or a friend. Or anything else. Only Christ is perfect. Only Christ will never disappoint. In Christ you are complete. Lacking nothing. That is the secret of contentment in all circumstances (Philippians 4:11-13). Married? Single? Widowed? Your completeness comes from Christ. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

If these qualities are yours and are increasing, you’re neither useless nor unfruitful! You’re not incomplete. Second-rate. In Christ, you have everything you need for life and godliness. If you practice these things, you will never stumble. You’ll be so busy enjoying both that you’ll forget about the fact that you’re “still not married.” That you only turn down one side of your bed. You’ll forget to evaluate guys in light of your “husband-worthy” list. Time will fly by while the Lord is at work writing the life-stories that only He knows how to compose. Being completely single is an opportunity to be completely singled out to serve the Lord only. It’s an opportunity that, most likely, will not last forever.

Why would I whine about being free to serve Yahweh wholly? Why would I worry whether the God of eternity takes note of the ticking of a biological clock? Why would I feel as if I’m missing out on all the things God doesn’t have for me right now? I’ve got everything I need. In Christ I am complete.

Once I was a broken child,
Marked for death, by sin defiled,
But Thou hast brought me near by grace
To gaze upon Thy perfect face.

Complete in Jesus Christ I stand,
He holds me wholly in His hand,
I need no argument or plea—
He died to set my spirit free.

This is the love that Jesus brings,
Who left His throne as King of Kings,
And donned my sinful flesh to prove
The height and breadth and depth of love.

Complete in Jesus Christ I stand,
Receiving mercy from His hand
I trust that He will also give
Whatever I most need to live.

What else should I demand or plead?
I have no other pressing need
But to partake of Love Divine
And to be His as He is mine.

Complete in Jesus Christ I stand,
And dare to open wide my hands
To let go of my hopes and dreams,
Be emptied to be filled by Him.

Concerning Anointing

I wash my hair frequently to keep it from getting oily, so the Biblical precedent for anointing the head had long baffled me. Who wants their hair caked with oil? As I’ve been reading through the Old Testament, I’ve run across the theme of anointing again…and again…and again.

The concept first shows up with the consecration of Aaron the priest. A special oil is devised to pour over his head in preparation for the holy ceremonies. I found it next in the book of Ruth—“Anoint yourself and dress yourself” Naomi told her in hushed tones, preparing her to visit Boaz on the threshing floor. When Yahweh chose Saul to be the first king of Israel, he sent the prophet Samuel to anoint him with oil and here the picture begins to crystallize. When Samuel had finished anointing him, God’s Holy Spirit came upon him and changed him. The same was true of David, when Samuel anointed him to take Saul’s place—God’s Holy Spirit left Saul and came upon David powerfully.

Later David praises Yahweh, his shepherd for anointing his head with oil and he spoke of the oil of gladness. What is the significance of the anointing? For Aaron, it set him apart, made him holy unto Yahweh, able to offer sacrifices. For Ruth, it made her acceptable to her redeemer. For those anointed king, it empowered them to fight Yahweh’s battles. It seemed simultaneous with the filling of the Holy Spirit—Yahweh’s imparting of strength, power and wisdom. By the Holy Spirit the heroes of old prophesied, performed feats of valor and strength, exercised wisdom, discretion and boldness—they were changed into men and women who reflected Yahweh.

I find the theme again in the book of Acts, when the Holy Spirit is poured out, like a fragrant oil, bringing joy and gladness, power, wisdom and authority to those who have put their faith in God. Filled with the Holy Spirit, those in the upper room speak of God’s wonders in foreign tongues. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter preaches the gospel to thousands. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Steven stands before his accusers and proclaims the truth.

This anointing, once something rare in the days of the imperfect old covenant, has now been poured out on every believer. “Having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” No longer is it an occasional filling, but a constant indwelling, promising and aiding our sanctification. It is the agent setting us apart, making us holy to Yahweh. It is the beauty that makes us acceptable to come before our Redeemer. It is the power, enabling us to withstand the enemy, to speak God’s word, to understand God’s will, to desire God’s glory. By God’s Spirit I can come before Him, my prayers acceptable in His sight and can cry “Abba! Father!”

Thanks to the Holy Spirit, David understood this beautiful outpouring. “Yahweh has anointed my head with oil…my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of Yahweh forever.”

Lord, Thou left us not alone
When Thou ascended to go home,
But sent Thy Spirit here instead
To feed us Thy own living bread

To lead us into truth and grace
To show to us Thy perfect face
To give us boldness, wisdom, might
And make us perfect in Thy sight.

Permeated By P

(Please Pardon me for not Posting.)

Politics—Because I made the effort to go vote in the local election only to find all the candidates I’d Painstakingly supported were unopposed.

Perturbing—Because having a fluffy, grey bunny scampering around the science class room while Presenting a PowerPoint on abstinence is certainly that. The follow-up Program we’d written (dubbed “Taking Control”) turned out splendidly We covered Photoshop, Pornography, eating disorders and Pop culture, through the Perspective of someone Planning to uphold a Pledge of Purity.

Period—Because we put one at the end of the Choices Presentations for this year.

Pictures—Because Amber took Plenty of me demonstrating work-out stations along the trail, and I took Plenty of her looking Perfectly beautiful. That was before we decided to Power-clean her apartment windows (which, I discovered, are great fun to climb in and out of).

Picnic—Because that’s the best way to describe the lunch Lauryn and I tried to shovel in our mouths without creating a disaster zone, while sitting at the front desk of her church. Our farewell Party before she departed for North Carolina for the rest of the summer.

Perusal—Because I’d no sooner been informed that Lauryn’s church library is open to the Public, than I’d dashed upstairs, applied for a card and Produced several excellent biographies to Peek at over the next couple of weeks.

Puritans—Because the first book in my stack turns out to be the “Life and Diary of David Brainerd” an early American missionary to the Indians. I've managed to hustle up enough time to make it through the Prologue. *Prolonged sigh*

Penkas—Because they have a very short cow that they left behind when they went on a very short vacation. She finds humans disgusting, dislikes being touched and runs freely up onto the back Porch at milking to time only to be relieved and munch on some grain. And guess who they asked to milk her? This very short girl.

Pandemonium—Because no weekend ever turns out quiet, it seems. One at a time, guests sought asylum (as in, insane) here for the weekend: Tim, Taylor, Bruce, Josh, Amber, Jessica, Tommy and Jordan. All shapes, sizes, Personalities and backgrounds with one thing in common: we're all being Perfected by the Power of Jesus' Spirit. A beautiful reminder of the unity in His body.

Pathetic—Because I could no longer resist the urge to try my hand at cracking Tim’s bull-whip. Devoid at last of most of the crowd, I managed to get out a Pop before successfully tying myself up.

Patient—Because Tim had to be while coaching me at last into something close to Proper form. The result was the Predecessor of a very Pathetic Pop.

Parched—Because my throat has been scratchy and my voice has made the switch to a much lower octave, courtesy of the dragon-cough I woke up with the morning after Lizzie was here. It must be sympathy, since she’d been battling hay fever.

Pearls—Because I am now the Proud Possessor of a Pizza-sized one—Pearl snare drum, that is. Apparently Josiah quizzed John about buying it from him. The next thing I knew, a hard black snare drum case and silver stand had appeared in my bedroom. So now I need to learn Paradiddles and all those other ensnaring Parts of drumming.

Pondering—Because I’ve been doing just that on a few topics, which I hope to sort out and Post soon.

Peals—Because it’s been storming for much of the Past few days. God’s Power is so magnificent!

Praise—Because Yahweh is worthy of it. Past, Present and future!

Surviving S with Style

Standing—Because we arrived late to graduation—both times—and had to crowd along the back wall while Dr. Brown droned on and on and hordes of cap and gown clad graduates filed across the platform to receive an empty diploma folder. After which we Struggled through the crowds to get outside where we Stood in the drooling rain and offered c-c-congratulations.

Sitting—Because the whole family, Zach included, Stuffed our bodies into my parent’s walk-in closet after receiving myriads of phone calls from those who love us and Lydia's Sensitive ears detected Sirens.

Storms—Because the reason for the cozy closet gathering was brewing overhead in a mass of dark “tornadic” activity, following the hail. It was almost a disappointment when we never even lost our electricity and Lydia drifted off to Sleep. Not everyone was So blessed, though, as the news the next morning Showed.

Splattering--Because I wondered about Mom adding water to thin down the moss green paint for her bathroom walls but didn't Say anything. Moss green Speckles do not greatly improve my appearance. However, the color was a huge improvement over Pepto Bismol pink.

Spelling—Because after giving Josiah a mile long list of “oo” words, I began making up my own to see how S”oo”n he’d protest.

Solitude—Because life Seems to have Slowed down a little, and certainly grown more quiet with most of the Tech Students vanished from campus. Some of them never to return. Jacinderella, Lin N, Taylor and Nathan have all moved on, Sadly for us. Even Nick Snagged a job in Kansas (my old Stomping grounds) and Zach is headed home.

Scissors--Because I finally Snip-Snipped my hairs--every Single one. Nothing Serious--Should be a full recovery.

Samuel—Because I’m Still lost in his life Story and musing over a few details—coming Soon, I hope.

Summer—Because it’s almost here and I have a project list a mile long.

Surprises—Because I’ve got my Summer planned out, I’m Sure to be in for Some.

—Because I need good ones for Summer Study. Any good biographies or godly living or Set-me-on-fire Sermons?

Because He’s Not Sentimental

“Did you watch that Mark Twain movie with us?” Papa asked me as I sat on his bedroom floor. “No,” I answered. “Was it good?” He shrugged. “He had a daughter—his youngest I think. Susie was her name. I guess he was kind of enigmatic. Hard to understand. And she really just intuitively understood him. They were very close.” I looked up. “I think I remember hearing that,” I answered. “Didn’t he get really depressed when she died?” Papa nodded, but he didn’t say anything more. When I came to kiss him good night he said, “I love you, Baby.” “I love you, too,” I responded, thinking how far we’ve come since the days of my early teens, when we seemed to have drifted miles apart. Then he added, “Hearing about Mark Twain’s daughter made me think of you.” My heart swelled and pressed against the inside of my ribs so I could hardly breathe. I didn’t answer. What could I say? Papa’s not a sentimental person. He rarely says things that earn an “aw.” I quietly walked down the hall and into my room, my eyes filling with tears—happy tears. What amazing things Jesus can do! Just a few words, but I knew exactly what he meant. He couldn’t have said it better.

Lord, ‘tis Thou whose grace imparts
The turning of a father’s heart
To his daughter, hers to him
And sets love like a diadem

Upon the brow of each in Thee,
To mirror Thy paternity.
When I gaze on both my fathers
I am blessed among all daughters.

In Which I Go To Sixth Grade

“Whew,” we all grimaced, clipping on our “Visitor” tags in the hallway of the D-town middle school. “It smells horrible in here!”

“Mothballs,” Christy announced, covering her nose and mouthing the words “morning sickness.”

I scrunched up my nose and shook my head. “Smells like a skunk to me.”

We trooped into the science room and began unloading piles of colored folders, a projector, Daniel’s lap top and a zillion cords. Already my stomach was beginning to knot up a little. Arrived at the destination for our presentations and I still had never even seen the power point, much less the actual information I’d be delivering. Just the folders we handed out to the kids—complete with a zillion blanks waiting to be filled in. Training on the fly, I guess. Drilling while in combat. Sixth graders started filing in, a mixed bag of girls who could squash me between thumb and finger and boys who could wear my sports shirts for pajamas. I helped Christy pass out folders while Daniel scooped up the remote and launched into the first day of “No Apologies: the truth about life, love and sexual integrity.” From the back of the room I watched the PowerPoint slides and tried to tie them together in my mind. In typical youth pastor fashion, Daniel bounced around the room, calling out kid’s names, getting them involved, asking silly questions, probing for answers. “Uh, yeah,” I thought, “This is what he does for a living.” The buzzer screeched through Daniel’s voice and he tied up his presentation and grabbed up folders as we scurried to get ready for second period.

Christy took the front next, with a completely different style—a style that screamed the fourth grade teacher she’d been before her first baby. “Oh yeah,” I reminded myself, “She did this for a living, too. Besides, they wrote the program. Just try and pay attention.” Daniel elbowed me and whispered, “Did you get one of these?” he pushed an outline of the program toward me. My eyes widened, “No! Never even seen it.” He grinned. “It’s yours then.” That would certainly help, although a three page outline is a bare skeleton for a forty-five minute period.

After three periods of silent watching, followed by a lunch break, Daniel handed me the remote with a cheerful, “You’re next” and vanished for a dentist appointment. I looked out at the rows and rows of expectant sixth-grade faces, glanced down and my sparse outline and back at Christy who was stewing over information for the seventh and eight grade program next week—which we’re writing on the fly. I’m not silly like Daniel, nor do I have all the wowzer facts and figures that Choices Counselor Christy has, but I launched out, doing my best to pretend I was just having a conversation with a bunch of kids—about abstinence. And why they should, of course. Because that’s just a really normal thing to talk about. I came to the sexual progression chart—“Draw your line high, guys,” I told them, motioning toward the end where we’d scribbled “hanging out” and “hand holding”, but I really wanted to shock the socks off every kid in the room by declaring, “Look, just be friends. You’re twelve. You don’t need to date. In fact, you never need to date. Dating is stupid.” Because holding hands might not seem so dangerous physically, but the broken heart baggage is still very real. Besides having to beg Christy to perform the baggage illustration for me, due to the awkward fact that I simply couldn’t reach the bags where they hung on the board, I managed to wind up just as the bell rung and sank into a chair at the back of the room feeling like a veteran of Iwo Jima. I made it through. I survived. They seemed to have gotten it. “Funny,” I thought, peering at one boy as he gathered up his school books and headed out of the classroom. “Wasn’t he here in first period? Sitting on the other side of the room? And his name was Tanner?”

So ended day one. And I went home and slept. Hard.

The kids were excited to see us again the next day and I took notes on my outline to flesh out the ideas behind “Can a condom protect your dreams.” And I skimmed the flyers on STDs. I even hit Christy up for pronunciations. Trichomoniasis can be a mouthful, but pronouncing it is nothing compared to describing it. Disgusting stuff. “Raise your hand if you want one of these lovely little diseases,” Daniel called out from the front of the room racing through statistics and facts and recounting the story of the skanky bed, where STDs spread from teenager to teenager, wrecking havoc. Last period had filled the seats before we realized I’d done no more than handle the bed of skankiness. “Just summarize most of those statistics,” Christy whispered as I headed for the front of the classroom. “And try to put it in kid speak.” Okay. No problem. Right. I perched on the edge of a stool and launched into dreams and goals and the devastation an STD can cause. Then came the pages of STD facts and figures. Pages and pages and pages of them. And more pages of them. About halfway through I suddenly had the overwhelming sensation that I didn’t have a clue what I was talking about. “Wind up with HIV and what happens?” A girl called out, “you die!” “And condoms, even when used correctly ALL the time, only protect from HIV 90% of the time.” I counted out, Daniel-style, across the classroom. “1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9 and congratulations, you’ve got a mild case of death!” I’d forgotten that half the class was special needs students. “No!” the “infected” boy wailed. “I don’t want that bad thing! Don’t make me have that bad thing.” Embarrassed I stopped, waiting while the teachers quieted him. I felt like a crack had started in my little toe and was slowly splitting up the side of my body and my head pounded. At the back of the classroom, Christy and Daniel were absorbed in plans for next week. I clicked to the next slide and tried to regain myself. One in four wind up with an STD. One per table, I pointed out. That’s the extent. Is that a lot or a little? Next slide. One in four. Again? Weren’t we just repeating the same basic facts and figures over and over again? Daniel and Christy’d filled in with examples, illustrations, stories. I just felt lost. Expectant eyes watched me as I struggled to decipher the next fact. Teens and inconsistent use. Again? Did these statistics ever end? “Uh, Daniel,” I called and he looked up quickly. “You want to explain these?” Two slides later he’d finished the facts and was on to the fun parts again, but I just huddled in the back, feeling like I’d never want to talk again. Forty-five minutes is an eternity to have to keep moving your mouth with sounds coming out. With nobody else talking. When you’re so tired your mouth is calling it a day and shutting down. When you hardly know what you’re talking about. When you’ve already said all you have to say. I hate repeating myself. Can you tell?

My ears felt hot as I gathered up folders at the end of class and my stomach sagged. Maybe I wasn’t cut out for this after all. It’s one thing to deliver a prepared ten minute speech in the Kansas State Capitol, under a canopy of flags, to a breathless audience, it’s another to blabber on and on about STDs to a classroom of wide-eyed sixth graders and smiling special needs students. And an entire class period is a ginormous span of time to spend in one-sided conversation.

“We weren’t even listening,” Christy told me as we parted at the church. “You were rolling along just fine so we were working on next week’s presentation. You should have seen us when we first started the program several years ago. And we wrote it!”

I felt a little better. Just a little. But I still didn’t have anything to say the rest of the night. 44,000 words, a woman speaks in a day, they say. Whoever “they” are. I think I’d spent mine.

The last day I listened with a will to Christy and Daniel’s presentations, scribbled down notes on my outline (which I discovered was slightly out-dated) and told myself how easy it would be—mostly talking about “true love” versus “in love” and adoption versus abortion. Topics I could dig out of the storage bin of my brain without too much trouble. I was almost afraid to ask to teach again, until Daniel vanished again after lunch. Christy was huddling by the back wall, trying not to throw up. “Want me to do this one?” I asked. “If you don’t mind,” and she covered her mouth and shuddered. I started the PowerPoint and handed out folders as kids trooped in. Here came Tanner from first period and right behind him his spitting image. Wait. It really was his spitting image. And dressed exactly the same. “Are you guys twins?” I demanded and was answered with two sheepish nods. No kidding. They looked as alike as a boy and his reflection. The kids started chatting with me. “Oh good,” a blond girl smiled, “You’re teaching again.” I grinned. Before I knew it we’d launched into the presentation and were spinning along, talking, laughing, oohing over the videos of Christy’s baby and winding up with the pledge of abstinence. As I stuck together two pieces of duct tape, named Robby and Clare, the words “God created us…” nearly slipped out. The hardest part of the presentation is editing out the truths that fall so easily from my lips. Instead I toned it down to “We were created…” It wouldn’t do us any good to be thrown out, like they’ve been in the past. Christy was still feeling like a seasick whale when the last period rolled around, so I faced that classroom again and survived it, too. Not just survived it, but enjoyed it. I couldn’t believe I’d actually enjoyed it. Sixth graders are so smart. “Abortion is murder!” they insisted. “It should be illegal!” I wouldn’t mind having a few of them in the state legislature. “STDs are disgusting. Sex before marriage is stupid.” Those ones should be hired for TV programming. “Being ‘in love’ (that feeling of carpet in your stomach, with someone walking across it, as Tanner described it) is a dumb basis for a marriage or for not waiting.” That kid should go into counseling. Or come join us at Choices.

“I’ll miss you guys tomorrow,” kids chattered on their way out the door. “I wish you were coming back. Will you come back next year?” I hadn’t actually decided yet, but I’m thinking yes, maybe so. Whether the kids stick to their good intentions remains to be seen, but at least they know the truth…about life, love and sexual integrity. And they know that society often lies to them about all of the above.

“By the way,” Christy mentioned to the science teacher as we packed our bags to leave, “what is that horrible smell?”

“You think it’s bad now,” the teacher laughed, “You should have been here a week ago! A whole family of skunks moved in underneath the school.”

I patted Christy on the back. “See?” I said. “I was right. Skunks.”

“Funny,” Christy shrugged. “I was sure it was moth balls.”

“Oh,” the science teacher’s eyes widened. “Well, we put those out to cover up the skunk smell.”

About Necessary Additions

“Mom,” Lydia walked into the kitchen, swinging the compost bucket from her arm. “We really need to hang up a hummingbird feeder. There’s swarms of hummingbirds outside!” Mom and I glanced at each other over a sink full of dirty dishes. “Swarms of them?” I questioned, peering out the window. “Well,” Lydia deposited her bucket under the sink where I was working, “I saw one, at least.”

Because She Knows Not What She Doeth

I couldn’t help cringing. I’d just met them both—he, full of charisma and energy, her, like damp smoke, sucking the joy out of the atmosphere. He introduced her by her first name and offered me shotgun, next to her as she drove. “Oh,” she said, hearing my name, “I have a three-year-old named Abby.” Not “we have a three-year-old” even though he was sitting right there. She wore no “token of unending love”—no ring. Odd, I thought to myself, and tried to push it to the back of my mind with the rest of the garbage needing hauled out. She’s probably just been cleaning or working out or something, I tried to excuse her slovenly appearance and dirty hair. Everyone looks terrible sometimes. She’s only going out to lunch with her husband and a couple of ladies. Who cares? But I couldn’t help thinking that he might. Especially since the other ladies were dressed nicely—he was, too. She gave no apology for her outfit to tactfully hint that wasn’t how she normally appeared in public.

We headed into the restaurant and he hung back a little, talking to us, letting her go first. Well, okay, business is business. He can talk to her any time. When he finally stood next to her, there was no temptation to touch—as much personal space as I’d expect from any guy near me. He’d said he was twenty-eight. Married four years. Hardly long enough for a marriage to go stale. Why did it seem as if the fire between them had burned to cinders and only produced an irritating smoke in their eyes?

When she spoke, I wanted to hold her tongue--sharper than a needle filled with a lethal injection. Tearing down her husband, his authority, his character. It seemed to me she smiled only when she told the story of a triumph over him. Of the dog he didn’t like but she insisted on keeping. How the dog slept with her—she mentioned several times. Where did her husband sleep? How she needed to buy a hoof file for her horse. “You don’t need that,” he said because he’d already mentioned they don’t have enough acreage for the horse, “You could just take it out and exercise it,” but she made it very clear she would be buying one. “How much will it cost,” he asked then, visibly lowering his shield, about to give up. “Only about twenty,” she answered, and he shrugged. “I guess we can do that,” trying to keep one last shred of dignity, as if he’d relented. Then she told him she had an interview for a part-time job. Told him just like I’d tell a friend I hadn’t talked to in a week or two, as if he didn’t know. He didn’t really seem to. “I’d rather you didn’t drive very far for it,” he said, softly. Would he like his wife near home? “They’ll pay my gas so it doesn’t matter,” she retorted. “Be sure you ask them to pay IRS numbers,” he said. “I’d hate to see you getting ripped off.” “I’ll just write it off in my taxes either way,” she answered, brusquely. “Just be sure you’re actually making money,” he laughed a little. “That’s kind of the point of a job.” “Well, thank you for letting me know,” she smarted hotly. “It’s not like I have a degree in finance or anything. I sure never realized that was the point of a job.” I laughed nervously and shoveled in another bite of salad. The conversation shifted to issues at hand—pornography and addictions and the ways they can ruin marriages. “Some of those guys have issues,” another person commented. “Well,” interposed his wife, “My husband’s sure got some issues of his own.” Toss that out there with pornography and addictions. He’s got issues. Then she added for good measure, “He’s certainly not the man I married.”

I nearly choked on a tomato. He most certainly is the man she married. Perhaps not the man she thought she was marrying. I doubt she looked too much like his wedding day bride, either. Or behaved much like the breathless girlfriend to whom he knelt and proposed. Nobody made her say “yes.” Here she sat, hinting that “if only I’d known.” She pointed to the sharp logo on his crisp polo shirt. “I want one of those,” she demanded. “One that says ‘volunteer’.” He smiled slightly, “We don’t have any. Maybe I can get you one that says ‘staff wife’.” Her groan echoed across the restaurant. “I don’t want a ‘staff wife’ shirt. I’m sick and tired of everyone always knowing me as your wife.” She might as well have slapped him across the face. Or me, for that matter. I couldn’t tell if anyone else had mentally recoiled. He had that “please, not in front of people” conciliatory look on his face. “So, what are you going to do today?” he asked, trying to lighten the conversation. “Oh, I don’t know,” she shrugged. “Maybe wash some dishes. I have some Avon deliveries.” “Washing dishes would be nice,” he nodded. “Oh, of course,” she turned to us. “That’s because it’s his job. I hate washing dishes so I decided to mow the lawn instead. He does the dishes.” She proceeded to tell us how the lawnmower was a worthless piece of junk.

He made some comment about someone he’d had to work with once being a bozo. “Well, isn’t that Christian of you,” she commented, “Calling people names.” I cringed again. I tried to remind myself that I was just a little mouse sitting in on one lunch. I don’t know what her frustrations or disappointments are. I don’t know what he’s like at home when no one is watching or listening. I don’t know how Christian he behaves. I don’t know what his issues are. Every marriage has it’s complications. It’s even possible the whole day was a joke or simply the day after a fight. Maybe they’re not really like that. I don’t know.

I do know what I heard and saw. And I know that, regardless of his true character or her true feelings, his wife is not improving either.

Restlessly I flipped open my cell phone to check the time. My meals didn’t usually drag by like this, sitting across from a woman who seemed bound and determined to trample across every inch of the word “respect”, strip her husband of the last vestiges of manliness and drag him by his hair through the dirt. All accomplished in an hour’s time. Was she even aware of the devastation she was causing? Did she intend to offer such a distinct first impression? Did she realize that in destroying her husband’s image she was destroying her own protection? Her own security? Her own image? I’d never met either of them before. Perhaps I only saw her on a bad day. Perhaps she was PMSing. Perhaps it was all a joke between them.

I don’t for a moment believe it.

In her smug satisfaction at having embarrassed her husband, having bested him, she seemed completely clueless, like she didn’t even realize she had completely destroyed his chances of ever being her knight in shining armor, in her mind or his—or mine.

And I’d only just met them.

To B or not to B

Because my life has Been Buzzing with them.

Boulders—Because that’s what we hid Behind while waiting for Becki and Lin N to walk unsuspectingly past us. A surprise for Lin N’s Birthday.

Birds—Because the hang glider almost seemed just like a Big one, until the dude flying it hollered down to us.

Borrowed—Because Both of the cameras I toted around Family Day Belonged to someone else.

Brothers—Because Nathaniel and Lauren Bunked here over the weekend and Josiah—well, Josiah’s Beyond description.

Blessings—Because the huge group of Believers here Sunday certainly were that.

Birthdays—Because Papa had one, too, and turned fifty-four.

Beautiful—Because that Best describes Josh’s car after Jacinderella, Catherine and I finished decorating it with pink hearts, colorful flowers and shaving cream.

Busted—Because I knew I was as soon as Josh called me demanding why I’d come to DHS without coming in to say “hi.” I’m not sure if he’d seen the “Just Married” across the Back window yet.

Baking—Because I went at it like a fury yesterday.

Burning—Because fortune cookies must be shaped as soon as they come out of the oven—at three hundred degrees. But my hands are heat resistant only up to two-hundred and fifty. Lizzie and Lydia stood By the stove laughing as I Bellowed, “Ow, ow, ow” and tossed Blighted fortune cookies like flapjacks.

Boozefighters—Because our neighbor paid us $100 to fold t-shirts for his motorcycle club.

Blogs—Because once upon a time I started Blogging as a way to keep my Buddies from Kansas up to date. Several months later, with over 2,000 hits, I Began to feel exposed--especially when I kept making editing Blunders. But I believe I'll stay and continue posting, just in a less intimate style.