Saturday, August 28, 2010

Saved Again by Humility, Tolerance and Forgiveness

Our cats get fed twice a day, at 5 PM and 5 AM. Somehow, the primary responsibility for that task has fallen on me. I think it's because it's no problem for me to get up at 5 AM. Nature calls at about that time, so I don't mind getting out of bed.

But the house is fairly dark then, and recently I was headed for the kitchen before dawn with our cats Max and Ernest leading the way. As I turned into the kitchen, I stepped on some running shoes. I wasn't prepared for this, and my step was awkward and painful. In the spirit of relieving the pain I muttered a few choice words, and then proceeded to feed the kitties.

When I took a closer look at the shoes, I saw that they were my wife's. I felt a sudden urge to be critical. I had seen the shoes there the day before, and it hadn't occurred to me that they would still be there. It wasn't the first time she had left shoes in a high-traffic area.

Emotionally, this isn't a good place to be. It's not good to feel resentment towards the love of your life. That can only create a barrier for all the joyful things in the relationship.

So I didn't just file the incident under "Topics for Future Lectures" and return to my sleep. I continued to think about it.

Two things quickly came to mind...

1. I could have picked the shoes up myself when I noticed them the day before. And I could have mentioned it to her. Small things that would have fixed the problem.

2. On the way back to the bedroom, I noticed that my own flip-flops were currently lying near the back door. And my walking shoes were on the floor near my bed - where I took them off. I was guilty of the same behavior that had upset me.

And that's a reality that I've acknowledged all my life. When I witness something that upsets me, upon further reflection I have to admit, "The truth is, I've done the same thing myself." Not because I'm evil, mean-spirited, careless or lazy. No, I think of myself as a well-intentioned person. But I'm not perfect, and I don't want to be. When I make mistakes, I try to learn from them and avoid them in the future.

But I do make them. And when I do, I don't like it if people get on a high horse and think of me as a jerk. And I'm sure no else does, either.

No, there was no holier-than-though attitude and no lecture. Together, we joked about my 5 AM mishap and the two of us agreed to do a better job of keeping things clear of high-traffic areas.

Friendships give meaning to life, and a marriage can be a thing of joy. But if it is, it's because two people worked at it.

Engage HUMILITY and TOLERANCE and FORGIVENESS. Keep an honest, realistic perspective and forgive the small things.

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2010. Building Personal Strength . (Permission to use pboto purchased from

1 comment:

Sarcastic Bastard said...

I once read a church sign that said something like: Good marriages usually involve two good forgivers.

Amen to that.