The house is dark and quiet and I finally have a minute to think as I trudge up the stairs with the oversized laundry basket in my arms. We barely fit through the narrow stairway. Shuffle shuffle. Three-point turn around the corner. Squeeeeeak. Open the baby gate at the top of the stairs. And as I trudge, and shuffle, and squeak, I grumble to the Lord.
Lord, I just want him to understand me! Like, know me perfectly. And I want him to know ALL my needs! Without being told! And not just know them, but DO something about them! Like, every day. And I want him to be more patient, you know, and more attentive, and more…
Yes, this is how I pray. Hey, when a mama’s trying to find a few minutes at the end of the day to sort through her thoughts and talk to the Lord, what comes out isn’t always pretty.
I lumber down the hallway, struggling under the weight of the heavy basket and the burden on my shoulders. I trip on a teddy bear as onesies and nightgowns tumble from the overflowing basket. Like worries tumble out of my overflowing heart.
I let my thoughts trail off into all the more I think I deserve. Plop the heavy basket onto the old blue couch and plop myself next to it. Plop my worries at the feet of the One who always listens. Finally I end my grumbling session with a plaintive Is that too much to ask, Lord? And I wait for an answer… some sort of justification that I’m right in wanting more.
But instead of feeling justified, I feel the Lord whisper gently to my soul: Yes, dear one. Yes, it is too much to ask of him.
Too much to ask? Why? I fuss over mismatched socks and prepare to argue my point. But with a deep sigh comes the remembering that he works hard to provide for us, and when he gets home from working hard, he plays with the kids and helps out with chores. He tries to speak my love language for me even though it’s different from his. He takes time to listen and encourage when I ask him to. I pause the fight, at least for a moment, and ask myself, what more could a girl want?
And yet it’s always there. This longing for more love. This wishing to be perfectly understood, intimately known, deeply cared for.
Socks go back in the basket and I force hurried hands to rest in my lap and wonder… am I the only one? Or do you feel it too, sister? Do you see a man loving you and doing his best and yet you still find your heart demanding more from him?
And I finally see it. What I’m really asking for is perfect love.
Perfect love that knows, understands, and cares. All of the time and no matter what.
And I feel the Lord give another gentle reminder to my heart: there’s only One who can love you like that, daughter. And I finally remember that I’m already loved with the perfect love my heart longs for, by the only One who can really give it.
You see, the thing about my husband? He’s human. Yes, human, with frailties and weaknesses and struggles like me. Oh, of course we want to grow in Christlike love for each other. Of course we want to try to meet each other’s needs as best we can. My husband and I are even learning to communicate to each other and ask for help when there is an important need that’s going unmet. But where is the allowance for humanness? Where is the fairness in the expectations we have of each other?
My gaze falls down to the still-overflowing laundry basket. Though I’ve been passing time sitting next to it, the pile isn’t any smaller. I won’t win the fight with the laundry tonight. In the same breath I give up the battle with the basket and the battle with my heart.
And I rest against the back of the couch and think about this how to bless journey. This journey that’s teaching me to stop asking what is the problem and start asking why is the problem. You see, today I was feeling unloved. That’s the what of my problem. But asking why takes the question a step further. Into the heart of the matter. And most of the time when I ask myself why, I find that the heart of the problem is in my own heart. The why of the problem today is this: I’ve forgotten where I’m supposed to go to find perfect love.
Now the problem has a name: forgetfulness. And now that I’ve named it, it loses some of its power, some of its worry-causing abilities, some of its fear-inducing properties.
And now I know what to do. If the problem is forgetfulness, then the remedy is remembering.
Remembering that I am intimately known by the One who made me: “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways” (Psalm 139:1-3).
Remembering that I am deeply cared for by the One who gave this definition of love: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).
I give up the fight of demanding more from my marriage to pick up the fight of believing in more from Him. And the burden finally lifts off my shoulders because I’m free. Free from unrealistic expectations, free from the fear of not being loved. Free to hold on to perfect love from the only One who can give it.
An image of Him carrying the Cross passes through my mind. I close my eyes and imagine Him, bloody, beaten, dragging it up the hill. And I have to say it out loud, even though no one but the socks can hear me: The best thing about this perfect love is … It’s already been given.
Clinging to His Perfect Love together,