Forbearance

I pushed open the door and stormed out of the bathroom.

“I told you to get your pajamas on! Do not come out of your room again!”

And back in the bathroom I went, trying to dry the baby while the thick, moist air clung to my skin. I listened as giggles and little feet ran down the hallway into the bedroom next door, now two pairs of feet bouncing on the bed.

I sighed. I am so tired of this. I am so tired…

And, again, the fatigue and frustration manifested itself in a torrent of temper.

“I told you to get in your room and get on your pajamas NOW!!” The words, starting in my mouth as an angry threat, morphed into a desperate plea as I grabbed children by the arms, pulling them onto the floor.

I can’t take this every day. I’m tired of feeling like a single mother who’s married.

Then following the thought, the guilt came immediately as an image of a true single mother came to mind.

And I’m tired of feeling guilty for the feelings I have. What is so hard about letting me know what time he is coming home? I dragged one kid onto her bed and shut the door.

“Chloe, let’s go!” The toddler in the bathroom followed me down the hall to her room. I laid her on the floor and grabbed the orange diaper I had set out before her bath. My eyes began to burn with hot tears, and I blinked them away as I worked the velcro tabs before me.

Once she was dressed for bed, I pulled her onto my lap in the brown rocking chair, cream cushions dingy and worn from rocking with two children before her. And I prayed. I cried. And with each prayer for Chloe, with each sway of the chair, I offered up more venom to share with him.

We rocked and rocked. I heard bedroom doors open, laughter as a mattress hit the floor. And I didn’t care. I just don’t care.

The bedtime routine dragged on as I moved from one child to the next, trying to wash away the anger I spew on them with the silent hug I could offer. As I closed the last door, I picked up bath towels off the floor, mounds of wet cloth in my arms, and headed toward momentary solace in my room.

I flipped on the light, swiftly moving toward the hamper in the bathroom, and I noticed the pile in front of it.

How hard is it to put the clothes IN the hamper? I’ll just do this, too! I shoved the towels in and grabbed the mound of white undershirts that lay at my feet.

I’m not waiting for him to eat. I’m hungry now. I’m tired of waiting until nine to eat every night.

Seven o’clock used to be late; now it’s the norm. Our Sundays aren’t sacred. When has he worked enough? When is our day?

I vomited up more thoughts; the lava of pressure and frustration was rolling down the sides of my body as I descended the staircase. I was ready for him to walk through that door, and I would be waiting. No smile, no kiss, just discontent written across my face.

I headed into the kitchen and began working on the dirty dishes in the sink. I rinsed the filth off each plate but couldn’t wash clean the grime over me. I shoved the dishes into the dishwasher, the forks and knives in their separate compartments, and I heard the garage door.

I wasn’t even going to look up. He would know I was unhappy without my saying a word. But I was ready with words, and I wanted the fight. And, yet, I dreaded the fight that I would provoke.

I wanted to yell so that I could cry, and I wanted him to hurt so that he would know how I hurt. I wanted to point out everything he had ever done wrong, every sock left on the floor, every time he hadn’t returned my call during the day, every time he had come home late from work at night. And I wanted to be vindicated. I wanted to convince him our life had to change.

I held onto the dish in the sink without looking up as he walked through the door.

“Hi.” He came over and kissed me on the cheek.

Setting his computer bag down, he wrapped his arms around my shoulders.

“Go sit down on the couch. I know you’ve had a rough day. I’ll make you some tea.”

I looked up, ready to turn around and face him, ready to rattle off the litany of offenses he had committed, but instead, I made my way to the couch.

I stared straight ahead at the T.V., not uttering a word, feeling the breath rise and fall in my chest. I listened to the clanking of tea cups, the high pitch of the kettle screaming that it was ready, the sound of forks and knives rattling in the drawer, and the wall of defenses I had built began to dissipate.

He walked over, tea cup in one hand, plate of food that had been waiting on the stove in the other, and he set them before me.

And in a rare moment of grace, I simply said, “Thank you.”

I waited until he returned with his own plate, bowed my head as he said the blessing, and rested comfortably with my husband on the couch. And, for the night, I allowed myself to forget.

22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23, New International Version, 2010). emphasis mine

Journeys

When have you displayed forbearance? What area of your life is God telling you to endure with patience?

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