Thursday, July 24, 2008

Polishing the Burl

We just got home from a two week vacation. Family reunion in Canada, a lovely sojourn to Wallowa Lake and then visiting friends and a book signing in eastern Oregon.

There was very little grousing from the short people in the backseat as we wound our way up over mountains and down through canyons. That gave us much to be thankful for (we cleaned out the public library the day before we left).

It was perfectly delightful in most ways.

But TDH (tall, dark and handsome) wasn’t his normal cheerful, fun-loving self. This was due to the fact that bouncing and dragging behind the trailer the entire 2000 miles of our travels were the stresses and worries from several things back home.

It reminded me of that commercial, “Don’t leave home without it.” Well, trust me, I was wishing it’d been cut loose.

He was really great, mostly. Just a teensy Jekyll and Hyde-ish at times. Nothing we couldn’t live with, until the afternoon he got irritated at something I’d done.

All the defenses locked into place and I went into my glacial mode. Ice queen reigneth.

Warm connection was replaced by short, clipped conversations with minimal eye contact. I withdrew into my cave, and felt completely justified in pulling back.

Afterall, I hadn’t done anything wrong.

Oh, how the smug get humbled.

I was stewing in the trailer when the Lord gently cleared his throat. He reminded me that TDH wasn’t being prickly on purpose. The more prickly, the more he needed loving. Loving words and loving touch.

Rather than complaining about him being a bump on a log, I needed to polish the burl. (For those of you that don’t know, a burl is a growth on a tree that has an unusual grain and is beautiful when polished).

After the Lord patiently let me stutter through a litany of buts (“But, he…”) I headed back outside.

Do you know how hard it is to be nice when you feel wronged? When you’ve already decided that he needs to make the first move toward reconciliation?

I felt like a rusty old pump. Loving words jammed and crowded in my throat, coming out in spurts and muttered sputters. But I kept that pump handle moving.

The more I walked in faith, knowing I was doing the right thing, the more my feelings started to follow. Pretty soon, I wanted to love on him. Wanted to encourage and help him smooth those pricklies down.

And then we were laughing.

When I let go of my rights—my right to be mad and my right to wallow in my hurt—God’s grace can get to work.

Then freedom comes.


  1. It's a pain growing up sometimes, isn't it? ;) You've probably just addressed something every married woman has done at least once (more like a hundred times) before the Holy Spirit "rights" their sinking ships. Excellent and so true. Well done.

  2. It is! Maybe I'll get there one of these days!