Thursday, April 25, 2013

To Blog through a Breakthrough

Jim photo IMG_1026.jpg

While we were in East Tennessee for spring break, Jim stopped at a Little Caesars to pick up some pizza. When he walked back to the minivan, he had a man with him, and--although I'd never met the man before, based upon the look on Jim's face--I had a pretty good idea who he was.

As it turns out, I was right; the man was Jim's beloved Coach V. from high school. Having heard Jim talk about Coach V. so many times and with such great affection, I hugged him right away, and hard.  He got to meet the children; it was a nice, little moment. Three minutes of a moment (quick), but, you know, beautiful.

I've thought about it so many times since and have known from the get-go: it was a God thing. I mean, consider with me: we were out of town...out of state! We almost never buy pizza, anymore; Jim hasn't eaten it since his gastric bypass and didn't eat it that day. And I'm telling you: Jim isn't like me. He isn't a person of and for many people. In fact, I'd never seen him shine out with love like that for anyone else but me. What were the chances that he would randomly run into Coach V. at a pizza place in Knoxville? C'mon. Total God thing.

Today, I was washing dishes and thinking about it, again: how I felt a prick of jealousy, that day, at the look of sheer love on Jim's face. He used to look at me like that, and I mean all the time. I haven't seen that look for awhile. I don't even think I knew how much I've missed it until we ran into Coach V.

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks: I mean, the Lord just spoke into my heart plainly as ever He has: That moment wasn't for Jim, Brandee. It was for you.

And then it was like fifteen light bulbs went off in my head all at once, and for the first time I really heard a question that Jim has asked me over and over again: "Why are you nicer to everyone else than you are to me?"

We've gone around and around about it. I've told him: no one else gets on my nerves like he does (true). I've told him: no one else has hurt me like he has (true). I've told him: I'm not raising little children with anyone else (true). I've told him: I need more help (true). I've told him: I need a break (true). I've told him: I'm tired and overwhelmed and frustrated and struggling (true, true, true, true). I've told him: he doesn't always speak kindly to me, either (true). I've told him: he doesn't understand my world (true) and therefore can't fully appreciate what I do (true).

But what I haven't told him (at least in that sincere, bent-toward-improvement way) is: I'm sorry.* Because I wasn't. In my mind, my behavior was justified based upon the stress, ills, or pain of the day. I'd convinced myself that if circumstances were different, I would be happier and kinder to Jim: the person I'd tried to make responsible for changing my circumstances or relieving my burden.

I think it's so hard to accept one's onus in a situation. It hurts, and beyond that, I think it's human nature to avoid or overlook one's onus completely: to not see it even when it's in black and white, to not hear it even when it's spelled out. It took our encountering the one person in the world who could "light Jim up"--and then a month or so to think about that encounter--in order for me to understand how Jim must feel over and over...every time he hears me speak to someone (anyone) more kindly than I do to him.

*I blogged to the point of the asterisk before calling Jim at work and bawling through a sincere apology. I'm publishing, anyway, because I'm hopeful that--in being wide-open, as always, in my struggles and weaknesses--I can help someone else. If you've been helped, please share this post with others.


  1. Thank-you for writing with candid,openness. I think all too often I am like that myself! I know poor Paul has had so much meanness from me and deserved more kindness. This post gives me a lot of food for thought and I am grateful you were willing to post it!

  2. ah, onuses. i love that word (it sounds exactly like its meaning, y'know?). and also i despise that word.

    yep, i'm too quick to excuse my poor behavior on the circumstances, when the sad and stark reality is that who i am under stress/demands starts with who i am. just makes it clear how much i need more of God in me.

    you're so beautiful in your honesty.

  3. You're family will rise up and call you blessed!

    Last night I dreamed Derrick was very mean to me. I woke up mad at him. I told him about the dream and he was like, "Is that what you think of me?" and I said, "No. I just want you to say sorry for how mean you were in my dream."
    It was pretty funny. talk about not taking onus. ;)

    1. glad to know I'm not the only one who gets mad at my husband occasionally for stuff he does in my dreams! Usually he's nice in dream world, for which we're both grateful.

  4. I appreciate your willingness to share the ugly-beautiful of conviction & repentance. May the Lord grant courage and perseverance to act on what you saw.

    All spouses are tempted to take each other for granted, I think. It takes work not to. Sometimes it's easier to be nice to other people because we only see the version of themselves they want us to see, the company manners, makeup on version, not the bedhead, no coffee yet, head cold version.

  5. Yes friend, you have spoken to me. Jesus does that. I call it a loving spanking from the Lord. It hurts but it is so good. I KNOW this feeling! Thanks for sharing the makes you beautiful to me.

  6. my friend..................... I love you...........
    and I know jim's heart looks at you the same way
    and I know that there is so much special between the two of you
    and you cross roads and they are hard especially now.. and I can't say only jim can say how you treat him and how he treats you and how that feels...... but BECAUSE of you and Jim and your kids I am a better, happier person in life..... and what ever it is that you are "onusing" its from the heart.... and open and authentic and why I love you , and why he does too, you are non pretentious and real and ........ one of the warmest people I know, like I told you...... we are all human..... and that relationship thing. what you mean by "lighting up" is what you BOTH do for so many, even if you are not trying........ humaness is ok I love you

  7. A God thing indeed. (((HUGS)))

  8. This honest and brave post just made me love you more. I find myself one upping my husband when he points something out about me, saying, "yeah, but YOUUUU......" Not good. I'm sorry, two simple, but oh so hard to say, words.

  9. What a God thing! Thanks for challenging/encouraging me to think about how I am treating my husband compared to how I treat others.

    We have had such similar conversations at our house. Almost word-for-word with much of what you wrote. We had what I think of as our "breaking point/turning point" a year or so ago when he wrote me a letter laying it all out there in black and white, and I had to make a choice of how our family would be, what our marriage would be. It was the hardest thing I've ever read, and while things are not perfect, I am so thankful for that hard letter.
    It is good to read your post - to know we are not alone in all of this.

  10. Yep, I've been there. Marriage is tough. There are no two ways about it. We've been married over 30 years. When asked about marriage my husband always tells people the first 25 years are the toughest. God bless you and your marriage and your wide-open honesty. Btw, those little darlings you are raising together, while adorable, suck the "nice" right out of a person sometimes. Btw, the responsibility of providing for a family in these tough economic times suck the "nice" out of a person sometimes. I'm glad you've decided to be kind, even when it doesn't seem deserved. I <3 you, friend.

  11. Brandee, thank you for your honesty here and for reminding me of the power of I'm sorry. Excuses feel good in a moment, but they hold no life in them. Bless you and your marriage.

  12. You know when we're little girls, and before we're married, people told us marriage would be hard. But who ever believed any of those people? And the thing is, because marriage a picture of the relationship between Christ and his bride, it's like there's a big old target on the backs of husbands and wives. The only way to persevere is either to exist at a shallow level or to live out the gospel at a deep level.

    Way to show how it's done, my friend.

  13. This is so true, Brandee! And, it can be applied to so many marriages and families. I try to look at my husband and children through God's eyes because I know He loves them, dearly. When I place His lenses on my eyes and heart, I see them as beautiful and spiritual human beings. I see them outside of our everyday lives, as unique and interesting individuals. I'm lending my glasses. They work miracles! Blessings!

    P.S. You are one of my April winners. Drop by.

  14. Truly authentic blog. Real life - really fine breakthrough. Blogging it out really helps put it all together.

  15. This post perfectly exemplifies why I like your blog. (And you.) Thank you for the honesty here, Brandee. Blessings to you and Jim!

  16. i am so convicted. thank you for turning the lightbulb on for me. i think my man and I have had the SAME conversation 100 times over the years. I'm so glad you stopped by the Overflow to lead me here. THANK YOU.