Where Logic Meets Love

A Lenten Reminder: It's Time for Trust

Thursday, March 10, 2011

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A Lenten Reminder: It's Time for Trust | Faith Permeating Life
I didn't write on Tuesday because I was still pondering what I was going to do for Lent. I say "do" rather than "give up" because Lent is not necessarily a time where you have to go without something -- it can be a time for adding something, like service, to your life. Our priest at Ash Wednesday service yesterday tied the Gospel reading to Lent very well, I thought, by saying that if you are giving up something a) to impress people with your willpower, b) to complain about how deprived you are, or c) because you want to "improve yourself," well, then, you've received your reward -- admiration, weight loss, whatever. To my understanding, Lent is a time of self-reflection and of listening to God, so God can tell you where you need to step it up in being, as our priest put it, an "ambassador of God."

So, as always, at the last minute (Tuesday night) God gave me my answer.

Let me share a text message exchange from Wednesday that encapsulates it:
Mike: I'm going to give up soda for Lent. So help me with that if you could!
Jessica: I don't know if I can. I'm giving up nagging you for Lent :)
I've mentioned that I recently finished the book Spousonomics. The authors discuss the issue of nagging (or "reminding," as I prefer to think of it) and their solution is simple: trust. I don't have the book with me to quote it exactly, but they say something to the effect of, "We know what you're thinking. Yeah, right. If I trusted my spouse to get things done we'd have a huge pile of dirty laundry and another of dirty dishes, or I'd be doing everything myself." And yet they go on to show just how effective it can be when you first trust your spouse to do something, and then when they don't, trust that they'll realize their mistake and correct it.

For me, this is about more than self-improvement or marital improvement. The reason God put this on my heart, I believe, is because if I can't trust my husband with small things, how can I trust God with the big things, like that we're going to continue to have stable jobs with steady income and be able to provide for our future children? I have a hard time with "Let go and let God." And this is my opportunity to concretely demonstrate and practice my ability to trust.

There are a few more thoughts I want to share about this.

First, reminding and requesting are two different things. I am still allowed to request that Mike do things, I just have to be mindful about how I ask him the first (and, in this case, only) time. So for example, this weekend we meant to get to the bank and never did because my sister ending up sleeping over, and Mike didn't go when he was home on Monday. So on Tuesday before I left for work I very specifically asked if he would please go to the bank that day. I made sure I only requested one thing, and I gave him a specific time by which I'd like it done. What I have a bad habit of doing is simply saying, "Could you please do this?" and then a week later getting annoyed that he hasn't done it yet and reminding him that he promised to do it. The problem is, he still knows it has to get done, he just doesn't have any particular deadline in mind (even if I know, with some things, that after a certain point it will be too late).

So even if it's an arbitrary deadline, when I make the initial request, I need to be very specific about when I'm asking him to do it by. Then he can say yes or no, and if he says yes, then if that deadline passes, and he hasn't done it, he knows he broke his promise. I don't have to say anything.

Secondly, and you may have gathered this from his text message, Mike is, in general, not that great at following through on things. He's aware of this and it frustrates the hell out of him. I've tried to be a helpful partner in holding him accountable for things when he asks me to, but I think it may have reached the point of enabling. He doesn't have to take action as soon as he promises to do something because he knows that he'll keep getting reminded to do it. By telling him I've committed to stop nagging for the next 40 (actually 46) days, I'm putting the responsibility back on him. Once he's agreed to do something, it's all on him to follow through with it.

In the past few months I've gotten better about being hands-off when it's something that affects only or mostly him, and in some cases he's had to deal with the consequences of not getting things done in time. That's OK -- he's an adult. I don't need to save him from every bad consequence.

Finally, with my somewhat Type-A personality, with my to-do lists and schedules, it's a good thing for me to remember that things don't always have to get done in my timeframe. Maybe I would like to have Mike's tips deposited every week so I can keep an accurate monthly budget, but if they don't get deposited for two or three weeks, well, my Mint.com account might be a little screwy but it's not like we lost any money. And we always manage to make do -- or do without -- if we run out of something and don't get to the grocery store until the weekend.

So that's my hope for a Lenten transformation: No more nagging. I welcome you, however, to nag hold me accountable for this and remind me to trust!

3 comments:

  1. I love that you wrote this. Because today I ordered "Spousonomics" for my Kindle, and I thought, "I bet Jessica has read this, I should check her blog to see if she wrote anything about it." AND THERE IT IS, the same day! Love how God works sometimes. Also, may I add, you and I are so similar it's scary. :) Thinking of you today!
    -Missy

    ReplyDelete
  2. @Melissa
    Haha that's great! We are totally in sync :) Can't wait to see you tomorrow!

    ReplyDelete
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