A Somewhat Spectacular Collision of Willful Desire with Reality


Shocked and appalled, that’s what I was. My husband, as he explained in his own defense, had tried to do a nice thing by taking care of something without involving me. Let me tell you something. Although Dallas Willard points out that money is a “small thing” God uses to test our ability to be responsible for larger things, I felt that the money part of my husband’s plan was indeed “a big thing.” And even though I consistently seek after “knowledge of the truth” and want to do what would be “good” for both of us within the reality of the Kingdom, my willful desire to recapture control made a sudden appearance, running unrestrained and roughshod over my husband. After all, he needed to be reminded that it’s never a good idea to keep me out of the loop (I thought we’d gone over that when he made the mistake of throwing me a surprise party on my 50th, but apparently he’d forgotten. After all that was…a few years ago).

Anyway, it wasn’t pretty.

I immediately recognized what had happened. First, my willful desire to control our family calendar and finances ran headlong into reality. Second, I clearly don’t trust God enough to abandon the illusion of control and allow my husband to be his own person who makes decisions about things without my input. Third, I apparently would prefer to go spend money at the outlets on a new pair of Bermuda shorts and a cute little button down shirt than on something that might bring more substance and harmony to a few key relationships (the thing he planned involves other people).

As a self-imposed penance for my reaction, I’m now hunkered down in the family room writing. My husband is sitting on the couch across from me watching some show about appliances called Bosch. I don’t really get that, but whatever. My daughter Christina is on the floor watching an episode of Dora the Explorer. My hope is that our sitting together in silence will soften the edges around the cloud of tension that burst onto the scene about two hours ago. Oh yes, we fought it out, I used my outside voice, and we finally got to a good spot where he confessed to the rest of the story, disclosing the exact scope of the challenge we now face this coming Saturday. I only had to ask him, “Is there anything more you want to tell me?” twice. Again, the “discussion” wasn’t pretty.

The tone and tenor of my voice was in me all along, awaiting the opportunity to come out. Dallas would say it’s like when Peter said he would never deny Jesus (Okay, not “like.” Maybe “similar”). Peter meant what he said when he said it, but later, after failing to meet his own aspirations, he realized his hidden capacity for denial had been in him all along, only awaiting an opportunity to come out. Peter wept bitterly as he realized the thing that had come out of him was a thing of which he had no control. I get that.

I learned this week, and have now experienced personally, that my knowledge (of the truth) is limited and grows slowly. According to Dallas (my go to philosopher this week) “God allows knowledge to grow slowly in order that we might have opportunity to grow morally. Knowledge brings power and power brings responsibility. If you’re not going to misuse it and hurt yourself and others, you have to become the kind of person who wouldn’t do that.”

Guess I’ll be offering to make dinner tonight.