I was running the vacuum through our bedroom for the umpteenth time last week when I accidentally sucked up the tail of one of Stuart's ties.
Don't tell him that.
And don't tell my Mom that I was using her vacuum that I borrowed, oh, I don't know… eight months ago.
(Neither of those is an important detail to the story… ahem).
Regardless, there I was in the bedroom, pulling the tie from the vacuum brush. Dare I say, I was upset. Sure, it was my fault – I, after all, was vacuuming. But I still stood there, cursing the tie's existence and the fact that it found it's way onto the floor… again.
You see – there's this chair. An old, worn, rickety chair that I picked up from the Goodwill years ago for $4. It was cute. It had potential. (Not that it's seen that potential, but once again, not an important detail). Our $4 chair sits patiently by Stuart's closet, awaiting the day when we'll love it enough to refurnish it in luxurious upholstery fabric, restuff it's sunken cushions with new foam, and give it that good cleaning it so desperately needs.
But instead, it sits. And each day, my
messy hard-working husband comes home from work, strips off his navy blue trousers (that he looks realllllly good in), tears away the tie that's been weighing around his neck all day, and unbuttons the collared shirt that only further accentuates how goooooood he looks in those navy blue trousers.
He strips away the day.
And throws it all on the chair.
For the past six years, I've been confident that some day… one day… he'd put the clothes in the hamper (or even better, rehang the clean ones for another day!). And yet day after day, I disappointingly yanked the clothes piled up on the chair and found them another home – the closet, the laundry basket, the garbage.
(Just kidding. But don't think I wasn't tempted.)
But I'll wear them again! He says.
But I just needed to quickly change! He says.
With the rage of a woman facing a thousand loads of laundry, I cast away his excuses and continued my internal war of clothes vs. chair. I folded, tossed, and restacked. I moved the chair. I cleaned off the chair and put a pretty throw blanket over it. I dusted it. I requested that it no longer be home to those wool pants or that sweater vest. Please, oh please, just let the poor chair be.
And then the tie got sucked up in the vacuum.
I know when to cry Uncle and that tie, well, that tie was my Uncle.
When Stuart arrived home from work and went about the routine of stripping off school clothes, I calmly (ahem) and politely said the following:
“My dearest love and sunshine, I from here on and forever more shall no longer be cleaning up your chair. Please feeleth free to do with it as you wish. But please noteth, if your trousers are laid upon the chair, they shan't be washed, nor shall your sweaters be folded. All clothes laideth upon thee chair shall here by and forever more remain there until you shalleth decide that they be promptly moved to the laundry basket or the closet. If that meanteth that my love shall wear stinky clothes now and forever more, than so be it. My wifely affections are hereby withdrawn from thee chair and responsibility of it's contents and visual pleasantness is now upon thee.”
Oh – what freedom! What pure and utter joy it is to accept one another and savor that unique marital relationship. My nature is to control. Letting go of that chair and it's wad of contents brought initial anxiety (I just can't visually stand it!) but man, what freedom.
Instead of stressing, I let it be. I had to give it up and let it go. I accepted the organic relationship that is this marriage, recognized our differences, and decided that this chair was not worth my energy. If I spent as much time loving extra on my dashing husband as I did complaining about that danged laundry, I'd probably be in a much better place.
And so. Here we are.
He knows I love him and that if his clothes shall findeth their way to the hamper, I'll surely wash, fold, and stack the clothes away just as he likes them.
Until that day, I'm basking in the peace that comes with letting go and letting things be.
This isn't a relationship, or a world, to be controlled. But rather, to be enjoyed. And as much as I'd like to put a giant sign on the chair that reads “I'm not a laundry dump, dude.” – for now, I'm okay with learning lessons of grace.
Lord knows I need that grace too.