We pay for parking at the hospital we work at and only have one parking tag (we are way too cheap to pay for two), so my husband and I rotate when we’re working at different times. My husband was coming into work one morning to take a certification course and texted to ask if I could put the tag on his car when I left work that same morning.
It really wouldn’t have been a big deal, but the fact of the matter was that I was tired and ready to get home. I didn’t want to walk all the way to my car, drive down five levels of the parking garage, drive to the other side of campus, and drive back up another five levels to put the tag on his car. I asked if he would swing by and take it from my car on his way in that morning. He agreed, and my plan was working out perfectly.
Shortly after, I got a text that said ‘Sorry, running late. I also procrastinated on completing the pretest, so I need to finish that and print it before class starts. My car is parked on the 5th floor by the elevators. Thanks.’
I clicked out of my message and internally rolled my eyes. I was so deeply annoyed with my husband. The last thing that I would consider myself is a procrastinator and the mere thought of being late makes me uneasy. The whole situation irked me.
When I clocked out and began walking to my car, I pulled out my phone and called him up. I knew this was not a good idea; I knew that I was just stirring the pot, but I was irritated, and I thought I would let him know (as if he wasn’t already aware).
He answered the phone with a sense of urgency and franticness. Before I even said a word, he said ‘I’m really sorry to ask you to take the parking tag to my car, I just procrastinated on this pre-test, and I was running late, and I’m just stressed out.’
I could hear the stress in his voice as well as his sincere apology. The stress that I heard was two-fold, one part was due to the situation that morning and the second part had been in his voice and his demeanor the past month as the date of a big interview was closing in and he was getting more nervous and anxious about it.
Opening my big mouth, I proceeded to say ‘well honey (I call him honey when I’m frustrated and trying really hard to be nice) you should have planned ahead better instead of procrastinating and then you might not be so stressed out. Plus, I wouldn’t have to deal with this parking tag issue now.’
We hung up the phone, and as soon as I heard the click, I was flooded with guilt. What a bitch of a wife I had been about this ridiculous parking tag. And what more, knowing that he was stressed out and anxious over the upcoming interview, I had the opportunity at that moment to be his helper, his cheerleader and a source of comfort and peace.
It would have cost me so little to set aside my irritation and be there for him, to be a source of encouragement and comfort. But instead, I compounded his stress and anxiety with my selfish response.
The things that cost me so little yet mean so much to others, that’s what I’m looking out for these days especially in my marriage. The opportunities where it cost me so little to respond with kindness and graciousness and to overlook an offense or frustration. That’s what I’m looking out for, and that’s what I want to be known for doing.
On a small scale, but in no way insignificant, that is what sacrifice looks like in marriage.
It means giving up having the last word. It means cutting them some slack even when that may have procrastinated, acknowledging that you have your own areas of imperfection though they may be different. It means having the self-control not to pick up the phone and drive home your point after they have already apologized once. It means letting it go.
That kind of sacrifice cost you so little, but it speaks volumes of the love and grace necessary to give yourself up for another.