Matt’s sitting on the couch enjoying the moment beside me like a newlywed should. I can feel his strong contentment. For that moment, he’s in a bubble of happiness just smiling at me. It’s very endearing, but all our socks are dirty.
Besides I wanted to talk about the budget, and the longer I sit here the later it will be before we eat dinner. We need clean clothes to wear and more than a bowl of cereal to eat, right?
Yeah, that’s what the pagans think. Seriously, Jesus said the pagans chase after what they will eat or wear. I’m like a pagan thinking I need to fix my dirty sock problem to be happy. If all the laundry was done, if I got that job, if we had that quiet vacation on an empty island, then maybe I could sit happily next to Matt with nothing else on my mind.
But I will never be happy in the future if I cannot be happy now. I don’t need clean laundry and Betty Crocker meals to enjoy Matt. I need love, kindness, harmony, patience. I can have one of my favorite memories when the kitchen floor is flooded on Valentines Day, but I cannot have a healthy marriage when I’m fighting at a fancy restaurant.
I guess that’s why Jesus spent time chatting with Mary, instead of helping Martha get the food ready for the party. The truth is, it really is possible to have a good party without food. What’s not possible is having a good party without friendship.
But we have to have food, I think. What would Valentine’s Day be without a nice dinner? Isn’t Valentine’s Day ruined when water is shooting out of our baseboard heat pipes, flooding our kitchen, and making a waterfall in the basement? Wasn’t the day ruined from the start, when I had to go to a friend’s house half-showered because newlyweds don’t have ratty towels to sop up the mess? How romantic is helping the landlord shop vac the kitchen?
Can Matt and I laugh at the things that annoy us, can we help each other, can we rest in the fact that we’ll always be there for each other? In the messiness is there unshakable love and deep happiness?
I want to say yes. I want to enjoy the present like Matt, to be content in the moment. Not begrudgingly, but happily content and overwhelmed by how lucky I am to have such a great husband. Matt made dinner. I spent a couple hours trying to play Halo.
“Just follow me, Mary,” Matt would say.
“I don’t know where you are.” I’d fiddle with the controller.
“You’re looking at the ground, Mary.”
Then Matt tried not to fall asleep watching Anne of Green Gables. Actually he said it was cute because I liked it. He’s sweet like that, but we’ve never made it to the second half of the movie.
The flooded Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite memories. It wasn’t a clean house, success, or control that made it great. It was the relationship. When I forget that. When I chase money, cleanliness, and success for happiness, I’m telling God and Matt they’re just the sideshow.
“It’s not my relationship with you that makes me happy,” I’m saying to Matt and God. “I just like it when you make me look good and feel safe. I like it when you help me succeed.”
That’s really rude, and it’s not true. I want a friendship with Matt and God that is strong no matter the circumstances. Christ’s contentment isn’t drudgery. It’s not picking myself up by the bootstraps and saying I love it when my kitchen floods.
It’s recognizing that the kitchen flooding cannot touch my relationship with my husband or my relationship with God. That relationship, God’s kingdom, righteousness, are what really matter. When I’m righteous, when we have the right attitude in the face of anything, I’m happy. Not just begrudgingly. I’m really happy. I’m in love.