There are things I encounter as I go about my day. Ordinary objects. I move around them so often that they don’t even take up space anymore. I know where they are and how they feel and how they smell and where they reside. The exact amount of room they leave in the rest of the world for me to keep moving around them. I know exactly what they do, what I use them for, the place they keep, the purpose they serve. All these things, these residents in my world that occupy my life. Fill it up with the taking up of space, all in service to me. My bed, bathroom, toothbrush, hairbrush, coffee machine, mug, couch, coffee table, blanket, TV.
Even my husband.
I move around him like a piece of furniture. That’s where he sits, how he moves, how he smells, how he sounds. I’ve come to expect these feelings, sounds, movements. At times, they become white noise, like the other occupants in my life. I shut off my mind and my heart, just expecting his presence, his words, his touch, his service.
But he’s not an object. He’s a person.
I just expect, use, reuse, abuse. Like an appliance. Do your job. Sit where you sit, make the right noises, serve me well. And when you don’t, you’ll hear it. That’s when you’ll hear from me. Because I don’t thank a coffee machine for being, for serving its God-given purpose. Only growl at it, grimace, punish it when it doesn’t. Only squint with disgust and frustration when the coffee isn’t good, when it makes unusual noises, when it leaks or groans or winces at its work.
But he’s not a coffee machine. He’s a person.
I say mean things because the coffee machine doesn’t have feelings. And I treat him the same way. He’s stoic and thoughtful, serious, introverted, intellectual. Logical, methodical. I tease him. Tell him he’s unfeeling and insensitive. It’s a joke between the two of us. He snickers and rolls his eyes. His emotional wife with easy tears, loud & frequent exclamations of joy and enthusiasm, exuberant laughter. And he is… what? Just an appliance? Because he doesn’t express his emotions like I do? Because he’s quieter, more private? Because he’s steady, dedicated, reliable, persistent? So I can give him mean looks, tease him about his lack of “feelings.” Poke him, prod him, expect of him, use, reuse, abuse.
He must be a coffee machine. Not a person.
I’m so used to him. So used to his space, his smell, his sounds, his movements. His quiet, steady love & service. It’s easier to notice when he suddenly slips up, and be annoyed he’s not doing the job right. He’s not serving as well as the dishwasher or oven or microwave. Do your job. Don’t take up too much space. Don’t complain. Don’t make too much noise. Don’t expect to be thanked or praised for simply being. You’re an appliance after all.
But what would I do without him? Where would I be? Who would I be?
I’m reminded often. When this “coffee machine” goes over and above. Like an “as seen on TV” product. (It’s a pot, and a colander, and a knife, and a vacuum, and a smart phone. All in ONE!) He’s so much more than a “coffee machine.” He surprises me with his service, his unconditional love. He’s not just a friend, but also an amazing father. He’s not just an intellectual, but a comedian, as well! A cheerleader. A body guard. A financial planner. A wise counselor. A solid rock when times are rough.
He’s surprised me with all this service, taken up more space, and loved me in more ways than I ever would have imagined. And every time he surprises me, loving me, serving me in a new way, I see it all again. All the many ways I have taken him for granted. How I’ve treated him like an appliance because he’s so quiet and steady in his love for me. I vow not to forget. But then I do. Because he doesn’t beg for applause. He’s not loud or overt with his service. Like I am.
We loud, passionate, extroverted companions can be a cruel bunch. Forgetting the love that’s sitting in front of us. The love that we walk around, look right through, all too often. Treating our quiet, steady partners like so much furniture, collecting dust. I need to make a habit of being grateful, rather than expectant. Of recognizing the feelings and emotions of my unwavering counterpart, even if those feelings aren’t expressed as obviously as my own.
Because he’s NOT an appliance. He’s a man. The one I’ve been called to love. Whether he reminds me to or not.