I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate to do. –Romans 7:15, 18b
I recently traveled to South Dakota to join a group of men in enjoying some of the finest pheasant hunting there is. At the same time, my wife, Tannah, decided to go to southern California to visit family and friends and to tie up some loose ends from our recent move from California to Colorado. I was to return from South Dakota and she from California the same day.
Though I was scheduled for a late-afternoon flight, I had to get one of the guys back to the airport mid-morning for his flight. Hoping to avoid a long day of waiting, I checked on an earlier flight to Colorado Springs. It was full, but the agent said there’d likely be a cancellation, and I was first in line for standby.
After the earlier flight boarded, there was one seat empty. The missing passenger was paged twice, with no response. Just as I was about to be given the seat, the passenger showed up. The plane was full.
I really didn’t want to spend the next several hours there and called Tannah to express my frustration. As she walked to her gate to board her plane in California, I told her how disappointed and irritated I was to be stuck in this airport. Because of background noise, she had a hard time hearing me and kept asking, “What? What? What?” To which I said, “Do you not ever use those expensive earbuds I bought you for your phone?” To which she said, “WHAT?”
My irritation at being delayed at the airport now turned on Tannah. When she arrived at her gate and was able to focus and better hear me, I repeated myself: ”Where are your earbuds?” She quickly detected my very critical tone. “I ask again, don’t you ever use them? Where are they??”
She paused, then said, “They’re in the bottom of my purse. With the expensive battery charger you gave me.” And then, “I’m now waiting for you to criticize me about all the stuff I bring on trips that I don’t need.” I could hear her tears on the other end as she said, “I can never please you.”
How many times have I done this to her in our marriage? I’m embarrassed to even guess. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate to do.
Now comes the critical moment: Do I go defensive—hiding behind the fig leaf of my critical spirit—and start making excuses about how I am just trying to make her life better? Or do I pause, repent, and ask her forgiveness?
God knew I needed several hours in an airport that afternoon to own my brokenness and take this to Him.
The journey to healing is painful.