By Dr. James L. Snyder
The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and I were in a little bit of a tussle this past week.
Normally (whoever said I was normal) I stay away from such activity in our very humble domicile. Sometimes it is completely unavoidable. This was one of those times.
I was in the study area of our home doing some kind of work when my wife came in, looked around with both hands on her hips and said, “What is all of this mess about?”
At first, I didn’t quite understand what she was talking about. In fact, I usually don’t understand what she’s talking about first off. Experience has taught me that if I just nod in the affirmative and smile the problem will go away. This time it didn’t go away.
“I’m referring to,” she said rather sarcastically, “all of this mess in this room!”
The problem I was having at the time was her definition of “mess.” I have found throughout my married life that we differ on definitions.
It is true, we use the same words, but those words have different meanings to her then to me. My wife has the habit of finely defining her words to the letter. I, on the other hand, just generalize.
If you ask her how much money she had in her purse, she would say, “I have $21.19.”
If you asked me the same question (eliminate the purse) I would say, “I have around $20.”
She is precise whereas I don’t care about the exact numbers.
When she said, “All of this mess in the room,” it had a different meaning than what I understood it to mean.
If, for example, one book is slightly out of line with the rest of the books, the room is a mess.
I look at my room as “my room,” and I should be able to have it, as I wanted to be. If I want it to be messy, then I’m going to let it be messy. My idea of messy is having my things surrounding me. Nothing is more cozy than being surrounded by what my wife calls my “mess.”
Continuing her conversation, she said, “What are we going to do about this mess?”
When she said the word “we” I was confused. I knew I wasn’t going to do anything about what she called the mess in my room and I didn’t know if she had somebody that was going to help her do something about the mess in my room. She just looked at me as though she was expecting a response from me. I’m assuming a positive response.
Stuttering for a few moments as I was trying to collect my thoughts and when thoughts wander as much as mine do, it is very difficult to get them lined up in order.
I looked at her, then I looked around my room, then I look back at her, then I look back at my room. For the life of me, I could not see any mess. I had no idea what she was talking about. If there were a legitimate mess in my room, I would’ve spotted it. I did not know what she was talking about.
Staring at her and she staring back, she finally said, “We need to clean up this room!”
I suppose everybody has a different way of ordering their life. I like to order my life by having everything spread out in front of me. And, for any reason, if I can’t find something, it simply means I don’t really need that something.
I have known my wife to search all day for one thing, then when she found it, it was too late to do anything about it.
Life is rather easy for me along this line. If I don’t have it, I don’t need it. I only need what is right in front of me and what I can access right away.
Looking down at the floor, I said rather softly, “I don’t think we need to clean up this room at all.”
“What did you say?”
At that point, I knew I was in some kind of trouble, although what, I wasn’t sure. So I repeated what I had to say.
“I don’t think we need to clean up this room at all. In fact,” I said as slowly as possible, “I like it the way it is.”
I know my wife was trying to help me get my room organized so I could find whatever I needed when I needed it. That’s just not the way my clock ticks. I’m grateful that my clock ticks at all for that matter. I don’t go with that pattern that she lives and dies by. Everything has to be in its proper place, according to her.
Me, on the other hand, I just have to be in the right place.
Then a light bulb clicked on the top of my head. I looked at her and said, “Let’s clean up this room and then I will help you clean up the mess in your room.”
As she turned her back and left my room, I couldn’t help but think of a verse of Scripture, “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise” (Luke 6:31).
You may not like my mess but I certainly enjoy it.
The Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 34472. He lives with his wife, Martha, in Silver Springs Shores. Call him at 352-687-4240 or e-mail email@example.com. The church web site is www.whatafellowship.com.