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Caught in the Act…

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“Character is what we do when no one is looking.”  Most of us have heard some variation of this quote…and have probably tried to teach it to our children.  But do we live by it?  Here’s a story from a husband who caught his wife in the act of revealing her true character:

We have a good marriage and love one another very much, but it wasn't until the introduction of the importance of respect that we both caught the vision and have been able to move from a good marriage to one more resembling a great marriage. I have a great example of how this now plays out.  We have a daughter who just turned 19 a few days ago and we agreed that if she didn't want to go to college, she would need to work full time and provide her own insurance.

About a week ago, the subject came back up but this time my wife said that if our daughter "needed a dental cleaning or something else, we of course would take care of it.”  I reminded her of what we had both agreed upon and that's when everything fell apart.  Cathie felt like I was being uncompassionate and unloving and I felt like she was dismissing our agreement and telling me what we were going to do.  She felt unloved; I felt disrespected. We started to move into our old dance.  She says something that I take as disregarding my thoughts.  I then close up because I know in a battle of words, that she can trounce me every time.  She in turn, wants to work this out "right now" and so chases me down.  Argh!  One of us had to drop our guard.

Seems like it's usually Cathie who decides to be the "bigger man,” but this time I stepped up and stepped out of our routine first.  I'm no different than 90% of the men out there in that I'd rather run my head through a brick wall than to have to talk something out but I know that she needs to hear my heart, so I explained myself.  I told her that I didn't want to leave our daughter out in the cold either, and that I was just bugged that I felt she was making decisions by herself contrary to what we had decided on.  That she was going over my head rather than working with me. I said that I love both her and our daughter and don't want to get in between her and her "mother bear" need to protect our daughter.  She responded that it wasn't her intention to take control.  We kissed and I took off for work one way and she to her job the other.  I was trying to practice love, but in reality still didn't feel respected.  I was hoping that with time my mood would change and I'd just give in; silently, begrudgingly.

I felt like I had done my part and that this time I was the "bigger man" but the real effort came from her later on.  I was having an awful day and felt as though everything was going wrong.  Midway through my day, with my hands buried deep inside a piece of failing equipment and people calling me left and right, Cathie called to check in on me.  I told her that I was frustrated with one problem after another and nothing was being resolved.

She spoke softly and tried to console but I was not in the mood and someone else was trying to call in.  It was a call I was waiting for so I politely excused myself and told her I needed to take the call.  I switched over to the other line as she hung up and tried to deal with someone else's problem. A few minutes later, the other caller hung up and I was about to holster my cell phone when I heard someone speaking from it.  I brought it back up to my ear and heard Cathie praying out loud and with conviction to the Lord for me.  She had hung up when I took the other call but for some reason the line did not disconnect.  Cathie had been fervently praying for me the whole time and neither one of us had been aware that she was still connected.

I can't say whether or not everything came together that day after her prayer because all I remember now is that my wife whom I felt that morning didn't respect my wishes, shattered my mood and arrogance and pumped me full of confidence and respect.  I caught her respecting my socks off without anyone else around to even hear.  She knows the secret of respect and I'm starting to come around myself.  (~Jim)

What are you doing when no one is looking?


Emerson Eggerichs, Ph.D.
Author, Speaker, Pastor

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