The Hag, The Ogre, and The Chocolate Cake
- Tuesday, January 19, 2010
I was right. Undeniably, un-arguably, hands-down right. I don't exactly remember all the details on what I was right about, but I can tell you it had something to do with a Wal-Mart gift card that his parents gave me for my birthday, which he wanted to use for car accessories. And this was a big deal, because I do not get to be that right that often.
I imagine some background is necessary... My husband, Geoff (known as 'My King' on good days), is the calmest, most literal, black-and-white guy around. He does not freak out, he does not have cows, he does not go on rampages, nor does he become irrational or unmanageable. These are traits common to me, which (unfortunately) I am well practiced in.
And while I freely admit that it is I, who generally behaves badly and instigates most conflicts, there are times when my king can, and does, transform into an Ogre. This was one of them. And I was really excited about that, because it is not often that I get to freak out about something almost justifiable.
Geoff worked the swing shift back then, so I had plenty of time that morning to foster my hurt feelings, fall back on my old nature for counsel, become indignant, ponder the injustice of it all, and then launch a full-blown attack. Usually when Geoff sees me about to detonate, he is quick to calm the situation, but on this dark and tempestuous day (and to my surprise), he countered! Not only that...he refused to back down and even called me - the one clearly in the right - 'selfish' and 'spoiled' and 'contentious.' ME! I was shocked and flabbergasted. The man who rarely 'got into it' and who refused to be pulled into battle was practically loading the gun for me. What sport!
As he was walking out the door, I let him know it wasn't over, and to come home prepared for the onslaught I would have ready for him. He sighed, looked down squarely in my face, tilted his head and commented, "You know, Jen, you are really ugly when you're angry" and then shot out the door before I could find something dangerously heavy to throw. But that was fine by me - he just hurt my feelings even worse - simply translated: More Ammo.
It mattered little that my young daughters were all in earshot and taking mental notes to store in their 'How to Be a Wife' folder. Frightful! They do not stop learning when our homeschool is out for the day. This is when the 'real life' lessons are learned. Was I humbled at the thought? No...I was too busy drawing up battle plans.
The next several hours were dedicated to the impending war. Memories were drudged up, scenes were imagined and hurtful words were scripted. I was ready. I was good and mad and fully prepared to do some damage. My flesh was totally in control - so you can imagine how torn I was when my Heavenly Father-in-Law (who gave me his son, Geoff, whom I was trying to destroy) stepped in with a shocking "suggestion."
Now, I am not a 'subjective' person. I am skeptical of those with stories claiming that 'God called down from heaven and spoke to them directly'. But who else could have planted such an outrageous, unthinkable, irrational thought in my rebellious little head? It was put on my heart, gently and very clearly, "Bake that man a cake." It was not me who would have thought such a thought. It was heinously out of place.
"Forget it," I nearly said out loud, "I'm so sure! The one time I can finally triumph, the one time I can finally be right, You want me to deny myself the victory and just let it all go? He'll think he was right all along, and then he won't change. And even more-so... Do You seriously want me to reward such bad behavior by baking the Ogre a cake? Ogres don't deserve cake! They deserve...well, they deserve flies and toads, slimy sludge-filled bogs and other horrible things." This seemed like a really good argument, and I was pretty proud about my quick thinking. But then that inner voice came again, and it asked "And what do Hags deserve?"
Yikes. So I found my cake pan and begrudgingly set about the task. I found the flour, I found the powdered chocolate, I cracked the eggs, and as I began melting the butter, something else started to soften. To my surprise, a memory of love, and of vows and of thankfulness to God for His mercy on such a sinner as myself began to edge its way in. Despite my 'rightness', despite my hurt feelings and despite my plans to destroy the man who hurt me, God used the simple act of serving my husband in obedience to dissolve my wicked agenda.
Obedience always brings reward. Soon, I began loving my husband, and a desire to please him welled up. God blessed the tiny shred of obedience that I dredged up, and He grew it. And it grew and grew and grew. As the rich smell of chocolate cake filled the kitchen and warmed my home, a new plan formed. A plan motivated by the same grace and love that God offered me when He died for my depraved ugliness. The battle plans were shredded.
My children were called out, and I got on my knees and repented for being such a rotten example, and begged God to make me a better teacher. And then we wiped our eyes and set ourselves to work. The recipe book came out and a full course dinner was designed. Candles were rummaged out of dusty drawers. A white lace tablecloth donned the dining room table. The children were employed at setting the house in order. Toilets were cleaned, walls were washed, and floors were scrubbed, while a sinful wife, desiring to obey her Lord stepped out in faith, and arranged a home filled with peace, and worthy to be enjoyed by a King.
The children were fed and then sent to bed a little earlier as my new plan for the evening continued to grow. I was praising God for the precious gift of my husband. I was brimming with memories of when and why we first fell in love. And I was humbled at the thought of being such a hindrance to the man who truly did his best to serve our family. I marched upstairs, slapped on some make up and yanked out the "WOW!" dress from the back of the closet. And then I went to the table, sat facing the door, and waited anxiously, and nervously, for him to come home. No doubt he had used his time to prepare for the battle I promised. Finally, I heard the keys at the lock and sat up a bit straighter. It was him.
The door opened hesitantly, and cautiously, as if he expected to be met with flying pottery. When it swung fully open, though, he was completely caught off guard. He stared at me completely confused. He stepped out, checked the house number, and then came back in looking nervous. "What's going on?" he asked suspiciously. His eyes darted to the meal...to the chocolate cake... to the dress... to the cake... almost to the dress, -- back to the cake. "Hello, my Love," I smiled.
He kept his hand on the doorknob, ready for quick escape. "Were you sniffing the kids' glue during arts and crafts?" he asked. I refused to be deterred, and within minutes of realizing my genuine sincerity, he not only accepted my surrender but also began apologizing for everything and anything he could think of. Even more, he began making promises to become a better leader, and shamefully begged me to use my Wal-Mart card on myself - even offering the checkbook to get something really nice (to which I refused and genuinely countered that car accessories were much more important and obviously necessary). Yes, obedience brings reward.
It became a very lovely evening. He was once again my King. I was once again his Queen. And the next day my children were happy little subjects with parents, who (on that rare occasion) modeled for them, Philippians 2:3 (KJV), "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves..." and James 4:10, "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He shall lift you up", and for once, not Proverbs 21:9 - "It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house." These are the lessons I want for my children. Humility. Grace. Kindness. Obedience.
What a heavy responsibility. They learn by example. And I am praying for God's grace that they will not be entirely ruined by learning from my 'old nature' (which still rears up its ugly head) of first responses. I am praying that God will train me in humility, and that this would not be a rare 'exception', but how I would deal with opposition consistently, because honestly, most days I dig in my heels and refuse to let go of my pride - even when I know what the wonderful results of "baking a chocolate cake" will bring. Do I want to live my Christian life faithfully and honor God? Or do I want to cling to being right? This should be so obvious, yet how we humans struggle! "And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ." 2 Thessalonians 3:5 (KJV). And mine as well.
God bless you as you seek Him. We are in this together. I pray we will be faithful with the treasure He has given us.
*This article first published September 17, 2008.
Jenefer Igarashi lives in East TN with her husband, Geoff the Great; together they homeschool their six kids on a little farm. She can be contacted by email, Jeneferig@gmail.com, or thru her blog, http://Jeneralities.com
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