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A Lesson in Humility

Photo by Matej on

We had a nasty storm come through our area last week. Not a tornado per se, but crazy strong winds. One of the casualties of this storm was a tree in our yard. I went out with my chainsaw to begin cutting up the branches so they could be hauled to the burn pile. As I was cutting in to one of the larger sections, my chain saw got bound up when the wood shifted. I looked at the situation for a while before determining what I would have to do to get the chainsaw free. Since there was so much weight on the end of the branch, it was creating an upward force causing the bind. So, in my mind, all I had to do was to apply a new force directly under the section that I was cutting and that would free the chainsaw so I could continue to work. If I’d had an auto jack, it would have been perfect, but I don’t. So, I started looking around and figured out that if I could just find a long, thick straight branch, I could use it as a lever and serve the same purpose. By the time I had the lever in place and began pushing it down, I had no hands to grab and pull on the chainsaw. After fussing with this for about fifteen minutes, I came to the realization, that what I now needed was another set of hands.

I went in to the house to get Tara. It took her a while to change out of her pandemic, pajama attire, which increased my frustration. As she walked up to the scene, I explained to her – “All I need you to do is to grab the handle on the chainsaw. When I get this lever in place and push down, just pull it out, okay?” She began to ask me what the problem was and what else I had considered. My impatience and frustration came out as I snapped at her “Please just do as I’ve asked!”

She silently nodded her head and grabbed the handle. I worked feverishly to force the lever into place and put all my weight on it to free up the bind. “Pull”, I shouted. She pulled and pulled, but could not get the saw free. I tried to reposition the lever and tried again, but ended up with the same result. Knowing how much more work there was to be done, my frustration with being paralyzed was driving me crazy. I finally took a step back and determined my best bet was to walk to the garage and get a hand saw. I knew that if I just cut the branch close to the chain saw incision that I could free it that way.

It took me five minutes to go to the garage, find my (seldom used) hand saw and walk back to the fallen tree. As I walked up to her, Tara was standing there with the chainsaw in her hands! There I stood, saw in hand, mouth agape. “How did you do that?” I asked meekly. “I just walked down the end of the branch and took some of the weight off of it. As soon as I did, the saw came right out.” I stood in silence not knowing what to say… “I was going to suggest that when I walked out here, but you insisted that I merely do as you asked – so I did.”What a slap in the face. Did I ever feel stupid. We both began to laugh out loud, then I apologized, thanked her and gave her a hug.

Nearly forty years of marriage and I still do stupid things like that. In my mind, the solution was clear. I’m a degreed engineer, I recognize things like force vectors and understand the importance of levers and fulcrums. All I needed (or so I told myself) was one more set of hands to get this problem fixed. I neither wanted nor appreciated another opinion at that point. Discussion was only going to slow me down…

How often are we guilty of this attitude in our marriages. We don’t view our spouse as having a unique perspective that could benefit us. We form our opinions and make decisions on our own, then just ask that they support us. I believe in this instance God used this to teach (or at least remind me of) a lesson. I did not marry myself, I married someone with a unique perspective and a mind of her own. How egocentric to think that I had the ultimate solution by myself. She had her idea as soon as she walked up, but I wasn’t willing to hear it. She kept quiet in order to keep peace. She didn’t doubt that my solution would work, she just had additional thoughts as well.

When you find yourselves facing a challenge that involves both you and your spouse, remember that your two minds together can come up with a solution better than what either one of you could do on your own. Take the time to hear each other out, don’t dominate the situation and demand your direction be followed.

I am very blessed to have a wife that is sometimes willing to step back and let God teach me a lesson. And yes, as much as I hate to admit it, I love the smirk on her face when it happens!

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