The Lord is teaching me to be on my guard for the little things which if not handled well can easily develop into something big and ugly.
Little things like this...
Alan is addicted to boats. I tried to choose my wording there carefully but addicted was the only thing close enough to describe this mans passion about sailing. He had his first sailboat when I met him but because he was very poor, no - not just regular poor but VERY poor, he decided to sell his boat to buy my engagement ring so we could be married. From the moment he told me what he'd done I've been trying to find a way to get him a replacement. Last Christmas I scraped together our pennies and bought a very run-down, needs a LOT of work but has potential sailing boat that he could fix up and use.
Fast forward to yesterday...
Alan has been rushing to get the boat finished these last few weeks so he could put it in the water this weekend. Functionally the boat was pretty sound and sea worthy but asthetically it was in need of a huge makeover. Alan had talked extensively about needing to paint it and had said to me several times, "want to paint my boat?" to which I always replied, "no thanks - that's your baby to do with as you'd like". When he took my inside for the first time he commented, don't worry I'm going to paint this white and you'll love it. He even surprised me by telling me he was going to name it "Mary Belle" for Beautiful Mary.
Well, seeing that I had done nothing to help him and that he only had a couple of days remaining before his planned launch I decided to surprise him by cleaning his boat up really well. I'm pretty terrified of heights and so getting on the boat was a challenge but once I did I set to work and scrubbed and scrubbed to try to get it clean. Unfortunately there was no denying it needed a paint job so I decided to go to the boat paint store to buy what I needed to touch up the red sides and then paint the inside white like he had asked.
£46 pounds later I left the boat store and headed home. By 4:00pm I had finished the red and painted about 1/2 of the white and was running out of both paint and time. I so desperately wanted the whole boat painted before Alan got home but in the end decided he'd be happy with what I'd done so far and I'd tell him I'd finish it on Friday in time for him to take it out on the weekend.
I went inside and showered and waited for him to get home. In fact I waited upstairs by the window to see the expression on his face when he saw his new, clean painted boat. Unfortunately when he arrived he didn't notice anything and came straight inside, then there was a pause and I heard, "Mary - what have you done to my boat?" But it wasn't in a good way. It was in horror. I waited and watched him go back outside and when I saw the look on his face knew I had done something terribly, terribly wrong. It was as if I'd murdered his first born.
I told him I wanted to surprise him and that I had painted it just as he said he wanted it - white inside and out and touching up the red but he just looked at me like I'd stabbed him through the heart and then he said "oh I'm surprised but it's not in a good way... it's a terrible surpise!"
Well I was crushed. Apparently when he said he wanted the boat white he didn't really mean white - he meant he wanted to touch up the ugly cream that was already there and when he said he wanted me to paint the boat, he was only joking. I was so sorry I had spent my entire day going up and down the ladder, to the boat store twice, to the hardware store for paint thinner and more brushes and in the end only made a complete mess of it. Ha - I even took things to spruce up the inside like a little survival kit, family pictures, books on sailing, etc. He hated it - everything - hated.
Why is it the little things in life have such a big impact whereas the big stuff we seem to handle in stride? I promise you that the boat situation was far worse then most of the things we've had to face as a couple together. In reality though - it's nothing~! I tried to surpise my husband because I loved him doing what I thought he wanted and he hated it. So what!? It wasn't as if I intentionally tried to hurt or harm him.
He got upset because something I did wasn't perfect. So what!? Isn't he allowed to dislike some of the things I do? At least he was honest - brutally is probably not saying it strongly enough but hey, he didn't just tell me he didn't love me any more, was leaving and was having an affair with a married woman!
Why is it so hard for us to put things into perspective? Why do the little things rattle us so much? Please God sort out the little things so that we don't blow them up to be big things.
In the end our housegroup made us laugh as we retold the story last night. Mercifully we also got to hear stories of other funny husband/wife disagreements and differences. We're so grateful for our church and the love of the people there. God is good - though the big things yes but even more so through the little.