Jun 17 2009

The Grace Factor


As I continue on my personal and professional quest for how to have the best possible marriage, I got a great lesson yesterday.  It all started with a phone call…

Well, actually, it started before the phone call, as you will see.  I had just left a meeting with some friends where I had told them I have been in a funky place the last few days, and I know I need to work on my spiritual condition, because I think I had been waiting on God to just suddenly make life easy.  At about 1:30 pm I was gassing up my truck at Sam’s Club when my cell phone rang.  Since it was my wife, I decided to risk blowing up my self and half the parking lot of Sam’s to answer my phone at the gas pump.  (For some reason, I think “They” say you aren’t supposed to do that.)  Chemaine sounded rather frantic as she asked me where I was.  I immediately went through my mental schedule to be sure I wasn’t supposed to be somewhere else.  In the clear, I told her where I was and what I was doing.

Then she told me she had just knocked over the paint mixture in our utility room while trying to open the door of the chest freezer.  We have been painting the cabinets in our kitchen with a heavily thinned white oil-based paint to give them that kinda distressed, white-washed look.  So there is now a paint/mineral spirits mixture splattered all over my wife and the sundry items in the corner of the utility room, and she is clearly in need of some help ASAP.  I didn’t have to be back at the office right away, so I told her I would drive straight home and be there in under 10 minutes.

Then I hung up my phone and started pounding on my truck.  I didn’t actually cuss my wife, because I didn’t want to draw THAT much attention in such public place, but inwardly I was railing on her for being so careless and clumsy.  And then God smacked me in the head. “This could so easily be me in the utility room choking on fumes, trying to clean up my self and the mess around me, and wondering how upset Chemaine will be when she finds out what I have done.  Hmmm… How would I want her to respond if I were the one who had this accident?  WITH GRACE!!!”

So, by the grace of God, I immediately released the frustration and judgment, and was instead filled with the compassionate resolve to come home and bless my wife in her time of need.  And the cleanup actually went amazingly well.  Afterward, I told her about my transformation at the gas pump.  She told me her immediate response when the paint mixture went up and over was to rail on me for putting it so close to the freezer, but that she quickly checked that train of thought with the realization that she could easily have done the same thing.

Where would our marriage be without God’s grace?!!  For cryin’ out loud, where would my LIFE be without God’s amazing grace?!!  Where would our marriage be without our offering grace to one another?  Why is so easy and natural for me to blame my wife, while avoiding taking personal responsibility?  How amazing would our marriage be if our first response was always grace?  How is the grace factor in your marriage?  When has your spouse shown you grace in a way that made the difference for you?

8 responses so far

  • Glenn

    Grace manifests itself in the plain down-to-Earth command to ‘take the board out of your own eye so you will see clearly enough to take the speck from someone else’s eye..’ Be it spilled paint–or broken vows–putting yourself in someone else’s predicament does not come easy or natural. Thanks for sharing, Roger.

  • Donna L.


  • Lori T

    Perfect example of the ‘adam & eve’ complex, as I like to call it. our first response is always to point the finger at the other guy. good thing for all of us that we have the ‘grace factor’! I really needed to read that today! Thanks, Doc.

  • Roger Butner

    Yeah, Glenn – sometimes I feel kinda like the monks from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, repeatedly banging my head against the plank that somehow keeps re-appearing in my hands!

    Donna & Lori – glad it resonated with both of you. I try to be honest about the lessons I am learning along the way, even when it seems I have to keep learning them over and over.

  • http://gatheringrubies.com Janice Garrison

    I had a different kind of experience this week. I was in a very bad mood, even felt angry at my husband. Poor guy hadn’t done a thing to deserve it either. There was a battle going on in my mind between “good” me and “bad” me. Imagine if you will, one of those big fat round bottomed blow up clowns. You know, you punch it, it leans over and pops back up. That’s what was going on in my mind. “good” me was saying…you can choose your attitude…you don’t have to be in this grumpy mood. “Bad” me countered with….back off! I want to be grumpy! And so it went for about 10 minutes. The good attitude won over, thankfully…yet were it not for “God’s grace, being sufficient for me”, the circumstance would have been very different that day. I expect it was mainly hormonal, my bad mood that is. I’m just glad it didn’t win out.

  • http://www.parapetsafety.wordpress.com Joe

    Just to add a little techno-geek factor here…

    there is a significant contingent of professionals in the safety field who say you CANNOT blow up (or set on fire) the gas station with your cell phone. There are no documented cases that it’s happened (yes, I’ve seen the videos, and they can be discredited), and the energy required to ignite a vapor cannot be generated by a cell phone (that is, IF a spark occured in the phone, it wouldn’t carry enough energy to light off the vapor).

    So when your wife calls at the pump, answer it. As in this case, you’ll probably be glad you did.

    On the other hand…I do have some concerns about transferring hazardous materials (i.e. pumping gasoline) while being distracted…but that’s another issue…

    a quasi-safety professional who works for one of those “oil majors” who puts the sign on the pump saying not to use your cell phone while pumping gas.

  • Roger Butner

    Janice – So glad to hear the Spirit in you won the battle with your flesh. Isn’t it baffling how much the war wages on?!

    Thanks for your two cents, Joe. I love me some insider, techno-geek, jargonized wisecrackery!

  • Glenn

    I back up Joe’s comment on the ‘spark’ (am a service tech at heart). The same spark that lights a lamp or gives life to a campfire can also ignite a forest fire or cause an unwanted explosion. Those explosions (blowups and flareups) are what we tying to this analogy, and what we’re trying to avoid. When we pump gas into our ‘internal combustion engines’, what we’re setting up is a controlled burning–which makes the car run and in another application, a different fuel makes ‘us’ run (not blow up).