The Stranger in the Furnace Room
- Friday, August 24, 2001
The quaint little bed and breakfast, nestled in a remote Colorado town, was like a visit to heaven. This was where my precious husband and I spent our honeymoon. Majestic mountains, bubbling brooks, and peace surrounded us.
Returning home after that once-in-a-lifetime celebration quickly brought us down from the mountaintop. Our apartment looked like a war zone! As I gazed at the mess we left in the midst of wedding plans, it happened. Reality set in, big-time.
I saw MY piano, HIS guitars, MY books, HIS fishing stuff. My, his, my, his - everything. When would all this "stuff" magically combine and become one home? Right now, it looked impossibly disorganized. From the midst of the clutter I could pick out familiar "things" that belonged to me. There were also the other unfamiliar items, the "stuff" that belonged to him. Would it be possible for his stuff and my things to turn into our home? Looking at the numerous things that we had yet to find a shelf for, a closet for, or a permanent home for, the prospects of this "union of stuff" were overwhelming.
At the precise moment I was pondering this soul-searching question, I heard a shriek from the furnace room. It was the deep, booming voice of my soul mate, my lover, my knight in shining armor. Could such a howl of anger have come from the same person I had experienced the peace of heaven with just hours before?
No, surely not. Those shrieks came from a person I didn't know. Chills went up my spine as I processed the anger I heard billowing out of the furnace room.
I walked over and peeked in and there stood the stranger to whom I had just committed my entire life, with his shoulders bent, holding his head with both hands. Rolling out of his mouth were various words and phrases I had never heard a human being say, "Dag nabbit, figgle, racher snacher, grrrrrrrrrr . . . "
It seems my loved one had determined the furnace room would be a great place to put his fishing net. After bending down to hang the net on a nail he stood up and banged his head against the hot, plumbing.
After a few moments of storming around, he sheepishly tried to explain to me that hitting his head was the ONE THING that caused him to lose control . . . "I'm sorry, honey. I just can't stand it when I hit my head!" The more he talked, the more I could see that the person I married REALLY WAS under that skin. Hyde was gone. Jekyll had returned. I was relieved.
The incident got me to think, I have known this man ALL this time and never thought to ask, 'So do I need to be concerned if you hit your head? Will you turn into a raving maniac? Will words fly out that I don't know the meaning of if you happen to knock your noggin on something hard?'
I can truthfully say the thought never crossed my mind when I went through the checklist of qualifications for a future mate. Now here I was, married to a strange man screaming out from my furnace room. The fearful thought crept into the back recesses of my brain, "What ELSE, what ELSE, dear sweet man, don't I know about you?"
Well, I did indeed discover OTHER THINGS during that first year of marriage, but guess what - there were actually (if you can imagine this) a few little idiosyncrasies he discovered about me too.
As convinced as I am that no couple should be allowed to marry without some sort of premarital counseling, I'm also certain that any relationship is truly tested through the daily-ness of life. It's that morning, noon, and night decision to accept each person for who they are.
In retrospect, I can see that our acceptance of each other's imperfections has brought us closer together. Truly, as the Bible says, anyone can love me when I'm at my best, but it takes genuine love to love me when I'm at my worst!
Marriage, that first year, was about learning and accepting each other's flaws. Neither one of us is perfect. Just as He gave each of us grace, so we must learn to release our expectations of each other into the hands of the only one who can perfect us - our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Miraculously, the piles of "stuff" that used to be "his" and "mine" have assimilated into closets, drawers and shelves. Our hearts have blended too, making our home a harmonious place.
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