Those two little letters sure do pack a powerful punch. At their sound, I was instantly taken back to my high school days and felt that rebellious spirit smoldering inside me. This time, instead of being angry at my mother, I was mad at my husband. I hadn’t felt the sting of that little word in a while.
Normally I would have found some subtle way of making my feelings known (as if there is such a thing), but we had friends on the way, and I was about to leave for a women’s event at church. Restraint was the best option for the moment.
Later that night while lying in bed, I decided to broad the subject once more. I pulled up a picture of the cute little dog my friends had posted on Facebook. It needed a home.
“Kyle, I really want to see this dog,” I said timidly as I leaned over to hand him my phone. He glanced in that direction, but I could tell he wasn’t thrilled.
This disagreement over a dog has been ongoing in our home since our now ten-year-old was old enough to ask for one. We both felt very strongly about our sides of the matter. In order to avoid confrontation, the subject usually came up in the form of jokes and jabs. That is until now. So, feeling like a child being denied by a parent giving a “because I said so” response, my resentment built.
The next day, I sent Kyle an email with a list of items that we needed to touch base one. One of the last bullets of the email read “I’m going to see the dog tomorrow after school without the kids. Pleas know that I am also trying to respect you, but to be honest, I am incredibly frustrated with you on this issue. I am not saying that this is the dog, but the more adamant you are on the NO, the more hurt I become, and the more I just don’t care about showing you respect on this matter.” The very last bullet read “I love you!” and I really meant it.
That night, after an eventful evening and after the kids had gone to bed, we both sat down on the couch at the same time to catch our breath.
“Did you get my email?” Kyle asked.
I had. It contained links to view some dogs that he liked. At this point at least I knew he was open to the idea, but now the issue was that we didn’t want the same kind of dog. That was the extent of our conversation on the topic for the night.
Friday, I received a phone call from my friend with the dog. She was in tears. She had grown attached to the dog and wanted to make sure that I really wanted it and could keep it. At this point I was forced to have an honest conversation with my husband instead of just passing blurbs and innuendos about the subject. I was hoping we could “dog sit” for the weekend, feeling like everyone would fall in love with her, and that she would just never leave. However, circumstances now dictated me actually asking for Kyle’s permission ahead of time. Oh, jus the thought of having to ask really stunk. I didn’t fear his answer. I feared my response.
Through email I let him know the situation. His response was one I will take with me to the grave.
I will never forget opening up the reply and reading, “I love you more than my position.” (Tweet That)
I let that marinate for a minute and the longer I sat with it sweeter it became.
There were other words in the email, but that was all I heard. I don’t know if he will ever understand how deeply this penetrated. He loves me more than his position.
There I sat in the middle of my classroom, surrounded by seventh graders who were all reading silently, when tears of sheer delight began running down my face. However, the moment of feeling consumed by my husband’s love was quickly overtaken with what I call and “Oh crap!” moment.
Oh crap…was I willing to do the same? Why did I need a dog anyway? His words that first enveloped me with comfort were piercing with conviction. Does he know that I feel the same way about him? Do my kids truly feel that I love them more than my position on the length of their shorts or the types of shows I deem acceptable for them to watch? Do the teachers I work with know they can disagree with me and it won’t change how I feel about them? Do the people I come in contact with know that I love them despite my position on their bad habits or lifestyles?
When my friend called to say that she just couldn’t let go of the dog, I let her know that I loved her more than any animal, and that God had used this whole situation to draw me closer to my husband and to challenge me.
Obviously the point of the story is not the dog. It’s not about being right or wrong. It’s about people. It’s about loving people. Our positions will most likely never lead anyone into a relationship with Christ, but loving them more than our positions will.
(To read another story about how amazing my husband is click here.)
What positions do we cling to so tightly we ultimately push people away?