I know it’s the middle of May, but I’d like to share a bit about a Valentine’s Day with my wife where I got it completely wrong. We had talked a bit about what we wanted to do to celebrate the day together, and my wife made it clear that what she really wanted was to have a night out. In the end, we didn’t manage to find a baby sitter, so she then said that she’d be happy with a posh ready meal from a supermarket so that we’d be free to spend the time after dinner not cleaning up the kitchen. She left me responsible for working out what we’d eat, which is where things started to go wrong…
Looking for inspiration, I started googling for Valentine’s meal ideas, and several blogs made the reasonable-sounding point that Valentine’s Day is the time of year we get to show our loved ones just how much they mean to us by pushing the boat out in the kitchen. I realised that my wife is absolutely worth taking the time and effort to cook something extra special. I wanted her to know just how much I love her, and darn it, I was going to show it with my kitchen skills!
I got researching recipes, sketching out menu ideas, and generally getting excited by how my wife would be overcome with emotion once she saw how much effort I was prepared to exert on her behalf. Come Valentine’s Day evening I got back from work, headed to the kitchen (leaving my wife with the baby she’d spent the whole day looking after), and got cracking. I made sauce from scratch, chopped vegetables, and even got the meat out of the fridge early so that it could warm up to room temperature for more even cooking. While she was getting our daughter ready for bed, I lit candles and set the table, making sure the mood was just right. Come 8:00, it was all ready!
Imagine my confusion when we sat down to dinner and I found out that none of it had blessed my wife. What’s more, instead of seeing love expressed toward her, she saw someone who hadn’t listened to her at all. You see, she had made it very clear what she wanted – me and my attention. She wanted to spend an evening not worrying about domesticities, so that we could relax together in each other’s presence. Instead, she received a husband who arrived home from work, left her to look after our daughter on her own, then spent the best part of the evening ignoring her while I got on with preparing something she had never asked for. I’ll be honest, she needed to tell me where I’d gone wrong a few times, but thankfully my wife is incredibly gracious, loving and patient with her thick-headed bloke.
After that evening, I vowed to learn to listen to my wife better. I’ll then be able to show her my love by giving her what she really wants and not something of my own invention, spurred on by what everyone else says a romantic gesture should be. Not that there’s no room for planning surprises and taking initiative in that way, but if I’m told what my wife would prefer, I really would listen to her.
Until this weekend, when I found myself doing it again!
My wife had been ill just before the weekend, and her stomach was still a bit fragile so she just wanted something that would fill it up without stirring it up. Meanwhile, I was thinking “Well, she was ill yesterday, and she seems a lot better today, so let’s make up for it by cooking her something special!” Again, I got researching recipes and started presenting her with ideas, when she repeated what she wanted. I realised what I was doing and told her “Sorry, I’m doing it again – I’m so eager to show you my love by doing special things for you that I don’t stop and think about whether you actually want it or not! I’ve heard you now, so I’ll cook you something simple.” Then it hit me that this is exactly how we treat God.
So often, we are filled with a passion to show God how much we love Him and how much He means to us. So we start planning grand gestures and looking for ways we can serve Him. Before we know it, we’re busy doing things that we imagine will bless His heart and bring Him pleasure, but rarely take the time to really find out whether He actually wants those things from us. Even though the motive is our love for Him, we can end up missing the mark and not pleasing Him as we really want to. We need to slow down, spend time with Him and ask Him what it is that He wants, which means we really do need to learn how to hear His voice. This way, we can spend our time wisely, genuinely blessing His heart.
In the same way my wife had made it clear what she wanted, He has shown us in the Scriptures what it is that pleases Him, and in some future posts I’m going to write a bit more about what it is that pleases God. For now, maybe it’s a good time to get alone with God and ask Him to show you what He wants from you, right now at this moment. Tell Him you want to please Him, but you need to know how, and then trust that He will show you because He will!