Hearts, and Babies, and Lent! Oh My!

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Happy Valentine’s Day to one and all! Stores have been preparing us for this day ever since right before New Years.

We started seeing the red and pink candies and other sweets flood the aisles as well as over-sized stuffed animals.

Don’t forget about the cards!

And the day has finally arrived. I know Valentine’s Day gets a mixed response every year. You have the people who thrive on it. They cannot wait to surprise their significant other with showers of gifts to publicly display their love.

Others are less enthusiastic. You may hear, “You know, you should be showing your love every single day of the year. Don’t fall for the hype of doing it just one one day.”

Then there are groups of singles who tenderly refer to the day as “Singles Awareness Day.”

No matter what camp you find yourself, this year Valentine’s Day shares its time slot with another celebrated day.

Today is also the beginning of lent; also known as Ash Wednesday.

Now, I’ve never celebrated Lent. I think the idea of fasting so that we focus more on God is a great idea. I have been involved with activities leading up to Resurrection Sunday which are designed to help focus on the “reason for the season.

I’ve just never formally celebrated this Catholic turned denominational church tradition.

That being said, with Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday falling on the same day it makes for a wonderful illustration.

The purpose of the Lenten season is to prepare oneself for the coming of Easter. Easter, being the holiday Christians take special to remember the resurrection of our Savior; who came to the Earth to save us from our sins because of His great love for us.

Everything God has done for us, He has done out of love.

He made the world and made us to enjoy it because He loves us.

When we had ruined our relationship with Him as a result of sin he set a plan in motion so we could be reconciled to Him, because of His love.

Jesus chose to go through with death, even death on a cross, because of His love for us.

And today, as Christians, we can have communion with the Father through the Holy Spirit who resides with us, because of His love.

His love is unwavering. It is unconditional. His love is eternal.

That is something to celebrate.

As we hand out our tiny Valentine cards, and snack on candy, and go out to dinner with loved ones, let us remember the One who is love.

Whether we take part in Lent or not, let us choose this time to draw closer to the God who has given us the model of love in the first place.

If You Feel Like It…

What she said: “If you feel like it you could clean up the kitchen while I’m gone.”

Innocent enough. But let me tell you, the statement was loaded and needed to be examined with care because it was not what it seemed.

To a bystander, one with an untrained ear, it would appear my wife had given me an option.

She had not.

The phrase, “If you feel like it,” set up an expectation. Really the statement was, “I’ve been busy/had a long day/feeling the need to murder (pick any of the above) and I’m needing some help around the house. Clean the kitchen…or else.”

I can hear her now, “No, I was giving you an option.” Technically, yes. But the two of us have been married long enough for me to know I do not want to see how tomorrow plays out if I chose to not clean up.

Marriage is tricky business. It requires active participation from both parties. One must learn to hear not just the words which come out but also the intention. Here are a few important things to listen for in any conversation.

What tone is being used?

This is probably the easiest. You begin to understand the tone of your partner during the early days of your relationship.

Early on you pick up on the lovey tones, sarcastic quips, or genuine elation.

These tones are an important tool to use in understanding your spouse. When, “It’s fine,” is said in a harsh tone, all is not fine.

Head for the hills or grab some water to throw on the fire. Through trial and error you will come to know which action is best.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words.

Body language speaks volumes to emphasize your words (think standing on a chair while thrusting a condescending finger down at your someone while screaming down at them).

It can also speak with no words at all (think arms crossed, legs shoulder width apart and scowling).

There are some body language signals which are pretty universal. However, in a marriage you need to understand your spouses body language. Keep from self-projecting (when I feel _______, I do _______ so since she is doing ______ it must mean ______).

There are times I shut down because I’m thinking. I slouch, my face goes stern, and I may even cross my arms. It would lead to many arguments if Jenny thought I was angry with her every single time I “assumed the position.” She’s learned.

She’s a lot smarter than I am.

What Did You Not Just Say?

As with my opening illustration, there are times, a spouse may not say exactly what he or she wants.

Would it be clearer to come right out and say it? Yes.

Would it lead to less frustration if we stopped trying to get our spouses to assume what we want? Yes.

Unfortunately, some people just like to watch the world burn.

Listen for what is not being said. Body language and tone may help to pick up on these secret clues. Breadcrumb trails left from earlier in the day may help.

You receive a text at 9am, “I’m just exhausted today.” Then when you see your spouse later, “the kids have been driving me crazy.” As she walks out the door, “If you want, you could ______.”

Pay attention to detail. I don’t care if you aren’t a detailed oriented person. Get to be detail oriented when it comes to your spouse.

Stay Alert

That’s basically what I’m saying. The two of you married each other because you loved each other. Or I guess it could have been the money. Or it was a dare.

But I’m guessing for most people it was love (I’m sure there’s a study out there somewhere).

Pay attention to each other, and lean to the side of service. Always be looking for ways to serve each other. If you think she may want the kitchen cleaned, do it.

Don’t forget tone easy on each other as well. We all make mistakes. Even when we are a clear as possible there’s still room for misunderstanding. Extend grace and try again.

Now, I’m going to clean the living room as well, just to be safe.

 

What are clues you and your spouse have dropped for each other?