Jeff had a day off today, so we did what any hot-blooded American couple would do for quality time: We went to Wal-Mart. I realize that grocery shopping is rapidly becoming the number one date night for suburban couples, but at nine a.m. on a Monday our fellow shoppers consisted mostly of mothers with preschoolers. This made for an interesting shopping experience with said husband, because I kept running into people I know.
My beloved is not typically known for his patience. But today was quite enlightening. He actually seemed to enjoy sauntering along, not looking for anything in particular. He held back as I chatted with friends, gazing on with a slightly bemused smile on his face. As I cooed to baby friends and conversed with little girls on banana telephones, he quietly occupied himself at the meat counter. No huffy silences or strange puffs of air from his lips. No examining the watch or restless motions. At one point, as he was examining an overlarge wall clock (made in China, of course. Please don’t tell Donald I was there!) I was stricken.
When did you change? I found myself thinking. Or is it me? Have I changed that much?
Somewhere along the way we’ve managed to come full circle. We have arrived once again at the place where we enjoy passing time together.
I’m not talking about doing things together. Jeff and I have always done a lot together. Passing the time is completely different. It has no agenda. No expectations. It just is.
In the beginning, in the “getting-to-know-each-other phase”, passing the time is the biggest part of it. But then instead of passing the time, we began spending the time. Any time there is an expenditure, the expectation is that something tangible will be gained. And so we grew to expect certain things from our time together. Predictability can be sweetly comforting but, oftentimes, it is the very comfort it brings that keeps us from developing deeply intimate relationships.
So here I am, staring at my husband in the women’s underwear section of Wal-Mart. He is relaxed and unhurried. He seems to feel unaffected surrounded by bras and thong-style underwear (not my cup of tea, by the way).
Is it the simple passing of time that has brought us back to this precious place? Or is there something more?
Of course you know my answer.
I have shared the story of my husband’s spiritual awakening. My Dearest has changed significantly since he accepted Christ only two short years ago. But to be fair, I must say that I changed first. When I stopped demanding that he be what I thought he should be, it finally became quiet enough for my husband to hear the voice of God. I gave up my expectations.
Although God is unchanging, He is anything but predictable. Since He has been at the center of our marriage, each day is fresh and new.
Although the many years of waiting for God to catch my husband were difficult, I am thankful now for His perfect timing. Jeff and I do not take our spiritual lives for granted precisely because of these long years of waiting and preparation. We cherish this new thing we share.
Friend, I ask you to do perhaps one of the most difficult things you may ever do: look inside yourself. What expectations have you placed on those you love? What expectations have you placed on God? Can you let them go? Can you give them to Him? He wants to do so much more. Do not let your expectations limit Him. Do not them limit those that you love. Free them from those chains.
There is simple joy in the passing of time when we let go of our expectations. And joy is a beautiful, beautiful thing.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”—Eph. 3:20-21
He never stops giving the Gifts:
17. Passing the time with my husband.
18. Contemporary Worship
19. Bloggy friends
20. Splashes of pinky-purple redbud trees all over the West Virginia hillsides