A certain situation has been building in the Parsonage for the last several months. At first, I did not think it too serious but alas, we have reached a terrible impasse.
It started a few months ago when I came home, walked into the house and was hit in the face so hard I almost passed out. At the time, I was hoping I would pass out, but no such luck.
I think everybody knows what it is like to be hit unexpectedly by something you do not actually expect. I guess that is why it is called unexpectedly. It happened to me and I am not sure I am over it yet.
Even though I have been married 46 years, of which most of it has been happily, I did not see this one coming. Just when you think you have your spouse figured out, they do something off the radar. Every husband knows exactly what I am talking about.
This makes it hard to buy Christmas and birthday presents. What they liked last year is not what they like this year. I remember buying my wife a watch one year for Christmas of which she was so delighted that for the next four years after I bought her a watch for Christmas. How was I supposed to know she only wanted one watch!
I think we hit one of those impasses.
Walking into the house, I was hit with the horrific smell of broccoli cooking on the stove. I do not know if you ever smelt such a smell as that but if you are not prepared for it and even if you are prepared for it, it can smack you in the face like you have never been smacked in the face before.
When I came to myself and gathered what little composure I could find, I queried the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage who was in the kitchen.
“What is that awful smell?”
“I don’t know, have you taken a shower yet?”
After being married for 46 years, I know when to respond to a question and when not to. I knew if I responded to this question the way I wanted to respond to this question, the smell of broccoli would be the least of my worries at the time.
“No,” I said gathering a little bit of manliness about me, “Something in this house smells dreadful. I smelled it as soon as I walked in the door.”
Then she chuckled. I hate it when she chuckles.
“Oh, that must be the wonderful aroma of broccoli cooking on the stove. Isn’t it marvelous?”
Adhering to my rules about questions, I tossed that one aside and opted for another one.
“You’re not cooking broccoli for supper tonight, are you?”
I was hoping she would catch my attitude of disdain and disgust in this question. Obviously, for whatever reason, she did not catch the drift.
“Yes,” she said as chipper as I have ever heard her chip, “I thought I would surprise you with a wonderful dish of broccoli for supper tonight, to go along with our pork chops.”
Can you live with a person for so long and not know what they like or do not like? Nobody has to be around me for five minutes before they will understand that broccoli and I have had a feud that has been going on since before the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s.
“But I thought you knew I do not like broccoli?”
“Oh, that,” she said with another chuckle, “I just thought you were joking.”
Nobody jokes about broccoli, especially me.
Then a brilliant idea reverberated between my ears. I thought I could take advantage of this situation and sneak in something forbidden in our kitchen and house for that matter, a rare delicacy.
“I will then run to the store and get some fresh Apple Fritters for our dessert.”
I figured if she wants to put in front of me broccoli the least she can do is allow me an Apple Fritter or two.
In a moment, all the chipper drained from her person and she looked at me and said, “Apple Fritters are not allowed in this house.”
“Let’s negotiate,” I said as calmly as I have ever been in my life. “I will allow you to eat broccoli tonight if you allow me an Apple Fritter for my dessert.”
I wonder if there is a husband living today, that has ever successfully negotiated with his wife.
“This is how we will negotiate, we will have broccoli tonight without any Apple Fritter. I am only thinking of your health.”
The way she glared at me I knew negotiations were off the table at this time and in its place was some steaming broccoli.
What I am going to do is sneak behind her back and eat two, not one but two, Apple Fritters and I will savor every bite.
If only we could act like grownups, come together, voice our differences and strike a compromise. After all, our government works that way.
I thought about this and came to a certain conclusion. The Christian life is not really negotiating your preference but rather honoring Christ. Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20 KJV).
When self is at the center of my negotiations, Christ is never honored.