I answer the knock on the practice room door in the basement of the music building, and I assume it’s someone wanting to use the room. I’m already talking about how I’m almost done as I swing open the heavy door. My eyes turn silver dollar size as I meet a sea of pink, pink roses spun in green and silver wrapping paper. I look up at the deep brown smiling eyes behind them and can’t help but fall into them, those eyes that make me smile and blush. It’s February 15th, so I don’t expect flowers. Not that I expected them on Valentine’s Day, either.
I stumble out a surprised thank you, but he just cocks his head sideways and shrugs.
“I heard you tell your friend yesterday that you didn’t get anything for Valentine’s Day. I wanted to fix that.”
I notice the roses aren’t from the store, and he later mentions he got them from his grandmother’s house. I don’t think about how she grows roses in February. I don’t care. Because even though I’m awkward as a 3 dollar bill and scared of my own shadow, he notices me. He didn’t overlook what he overheard.
Nineteen years later and he still notices the things that matter.
Oh, you can be sure I notice things, alright. I notice thick combat boot socks laying on the bedroom floor. And dirty dishes by the sink, even though our kitchen is weird and has one of those newfangled dishwashers right. next. to. the. sink. And I cannot tell a lie: those dishes in the sink annoy me. As do the socks on the floor. I sigh too loud and grumble too long.
When it comes to walking with God, there is no such thing as instant maturity. God doesn’t mass produce His saints. He hand tools each one, and it always takes longer than we expected.
I hate complaining about stuff that really doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. But, I still do it. Could dirty socks on the floors and cups by the sink be God’s hammer and chisel used to slowly, deliberately scrape away my heart’s hard parts? Opportunities to practice grace? To live it out? It makes sense because He cares infinitely more about a clean heart than a clean house. And when I get to heaven’s gates, it’s the state of my heart that will be under examination, not the state of my house.
When I pick up the laundry and put away the dishes, I let grace work like a broom and sweep the offense out the back door of my mind. Oh, it doesn’t feel good at first. Chiseling hurts and it takes time. But I hear Jesus ask, “Will you let this harden or help you?” and I am encouraged to trade what feels good in the moment for what moves me towards maturity.
Every marriage faces bigger issues that shouldn’t be swept away but brought into noonday light and stared at and talked out. Every marriage has to do the hard examinations. May I notice the important and allow God’s tools to fashion an inspired likeness of marriage built on a foundation of grace.