Are there things that “really bug you”? A lot of things? Growing up, my mom used to tell me to not let things bother me so much: “Honey-Child, If you’re going to spend your whole life letting every little thing get to you, you’re going to be a pretty miserable person.” She would reminisce that she had been just like me, but had been forced to learn the hard way to not let things bother her so much. When she got older, she’d had to go through “big things”, hard things. (My mother, while in her 20’s, lost her husband at Christmastime and then her 4-year-old son just a few months later, leaving her with a 2-year-old daughter and no money. Later, after marrying my dad, they experienced years of sickness, daily hospital visits and trauma, during my oldest sister’s battle with kidney disease, during which time both of my mom’s parents passed away, and then a year later, my sister.) These experiences, and many more, had taught her that the little things that she used to get upset about were really not worth getting upset over.
Little Irritating Habits
Last week we were talking to a newlywed couple, R and T, who’ve been married 8 months and are expecting their first child in a few months. We hadn’t had a chance to talk to them since their marriage, and so I took the opportunity to ask them how their adjustment had been going. We were talking about little things that couples have to adjust to in their marriage. You know, those little irritating habits that the other person has! I told them about a Christian couple I’d read about years ago who really had issues with this. The fact that he put the toilet-paper roll on the “wrong” way just drove her crazy! She wrote humorously about the little things that they each did which drove the other crazy, but I wondered whether they still weren’t a problem. Later, I read that they’d ended up divorcing. How sad! There must have been other problems, but I wonder how much these daily irritations which they never resolved contributed to the distruction of their marriage. It’s sad when something so little becomes so big.
We were having a good-natured conversation, so, I asked R and T if they have any little things like that in their marriage. T openly shared that he has a thing about rolling the toothpaste tube up from the bottom, not squeezing it in the middle. But easy-going R has no problem complying. (Good thing:) He is also an “early bird” like my husband, and likes to hit the road early–we’re talking 3:30 or 4:00 a.m.–when driving on a road trip. Leaving “a little later” and taking it easy might mean leaving at 8:00. I could totally relate, not because I am that way, but because my husband is exactly like that! Which used to drive me crazy!
Things That Used To Drive Me Crazy
I used to, as I said, have lots of these “little irritations”! It “drove me crazy” when my husband would put the toilet paper roll on upside down. It “drove me crazy” when he would drop his socks on the floor next to the bed at night. It “drove me crazy” when he would leave a cupboard door open, or leave the medicine-cabinet door just an inch open. So close to shut, but not quite! It absolutely “drove me crazy” when he would leave little hairs in the sink after trimming his beard. I can laugh about these now, but they were no laughing matter early in our marriage! I share these with you, because, I had to really think about what used to “drive me crazy”! Praise the Lord, He has done a work in me, and gets all the glory, because these things don’t bother me now! And frankly, when they stopped being such an irritation to me, I think Satan realized he wasn’t going to gain any ground on this, and my husband has stopped doing most of them.
When God Gave Me A “Talkin’ To”
I can remember when we were in our first years of marriage, and it was actually a serious issue to me that he left his socks on the floor every night. Every morning I would seethe with bitterness over having to pick up those socks! What did he think I was? His servant? How big a deal is it to drop your dirty socks in the laundry hamper? After awhile, I became aware of my attitude. I had a major problem. I don’t remember whether I came to the Lord, or if He came to me, but God gave me a good “talkin-to.” The gist of it went like this:
“If it’s such a little thing for him to do, why can’t you do it?
You say you love him, why do you chafe about showing it through serving?
I have shown you the example of Servanthood–washing My disciples’ feet just before I went to the cross and died for you–I call you to follow Me.
What will you do for Me? Will you not do even this small thing?
You are bitter over a very little thing. I have done so much for you–won’t you do this little thing for Me?
When you serve him, you are serving Me. By showing love for him, you show that you love Me. Love is dying to self. Surrender this to me. You can trust Me. I love you.”
“If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar:
for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen,
how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” 1 John 4:20
Attaching Different Associations To Our Actions
I was sure I was the more “loving” of the two of us. Yet, the Holy Spirit was saying through my conscience, “How can you say you’re loving, and feel so self-righteous, when you’re acting this way? Will you let your marriage be affected over a pair of socks?”
God prompted, and I decided, to associate “Love and Gratitude” to that action. I needed to make a different association and meaning out of it. Every day when I picked up those socks, I would think how much I loved my husband, and how grateful I was that I had the privilege of picking up his socks, and I would say, “Thank you, Lord, for my husband and for these socks! I love you, Lord!” I did it for the Lord.
How God Changed My Heart
Well, I don’t remember when it happened. Some time later, I was picking up the socks and realized: This doesn’t bother me at all! I couldn’t even remember, though I searched my heart, how it felt to be bothered by that little thing. Well, that was many years ago. Through the years there have been many “little things” that have bothered each of us. This is one of Satan’s favorite areas to aim at in attacking marriages. He will keep on bringing up new little irritations, so you should never think you’ve “arrived” at perfection in this. But, there is hope for victory. With God, all things are possible!
1 John 4:7-21–“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. 12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. 13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. 15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. 17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. 19 We love him, because he first loved us. 20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.”
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