Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
One man’s way of packing is another woman’s dump, stuff and close. Judy and I have been married for 44 years, 2 months and 5 days. In case you are wondering that is 530 months (give or take a few days) and 16,137 sunrises and sunsets. It has been an incredible journey that has been marked by a few bumps and a whole lot of good times. You might ask, “So what’s the secret?” Well, I am sure there are several. We both are Jesus followers though she is a lot better at it than I am. We are both committed to our marriage—she would kill me if I even thought of leaving. And, honesty, she is a really, classy lady. With that being said, I can tell you one reason that didn’t make the list. We are alike.
Nope, ain’t gonna happen, you gotta be kidding me.” In fact, we are pretty “unalike” in several ways. She is definitely more optimistic. In fact, she is so optimistic that for her it’s not a matter of the glass being half-full or empty—she doesn’t even need a glass. Me, well, not so much. I need to analyze and rationalize. Judy thrives around people. Put her a room of strangers and she is a like a pinball game going from person to person—sharing, chatting, and laughing. Me, well, I head to the nearest wall and lean. If I can find one person to talk with—I’m good.
On the other side of the coin, I am organized. Go to my office, either at home or work, and you will find a neat and tidy desk. A place for everything and everything it is place. Go into Judy’s office and you might have a difficult time finding the desk. I am generally a pretty focused person. If there is a task to do, I sit down and get it done. If the house is on fire, that will have to wait until I am done. Judy would probably not notice the house was on fire and if she did notice, she would immediately begin visiting with the firemen.
Now you probably need to know that Judy suggested this story. We are leaving for vacation soon. Can someone say “YAY”? That foray will cause us to have to pack our luggage. Now given what you know, here’s how it will go. I will take my suitcase, lay everything out on the bed, carefully fold and sort each item, and then assign them a specific place in the luggage. I will overpack because you never know what you might need. When I get done the suitcase will look like a clothing file cabinet—neatly packed.
Judy, on the other hand, has a different technique. She, too, will place her luggage either on the bed or floor. She too will probably overpack because you never know what you will need, however, that’s where the similarity ends. She will then proceed to dump her clothes, shoes, etc., in the bag, on the bag, and anywhere near the bag. Then she will begin to heap and pile the clothes in the hopes that the thing will close when she is done. It’s a fifty-fifty chance. She may call in reinforcements (me) if needed but that is always a last resort.
Like I said, in many ways we are not alike. But, with that said, that is not a weakness, it is a strength. Where I am weak, she is strong and vice versa. We have learned (and are still learning) that the power of a team lies in loving, sharing, working together and yes, forgiving. Oh, and I also have learned the power of two incredibly powerful words, “Yes, dear.” No, that would be “I’m sorry.” In Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 it says, “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up.” You can take that to the bank.
There’s one more thing that is quite interesting. In our 16,137 days of marriage, we have shared 14,018 of those as a team working together in vocational ministry. I am certain that without Judy, and all the ways we are different, we would not have seen all the amazing things God has done. It is a story of love, grace, loyalty, and friendship. Now before you gag yourself and throw up, know that we definitely don’t always get it right. But there is one thing you can take it to the bank. The Bible says that we are fearful and wonderfully [and let me add differently] made. Someone once said if you and your spouse are alike then one of you isn’t necessary. Hmmm.
So, there you go. I hope today’s big truth, that it is more than ok to be different, will strengthen your resolve and commitment in your marriage. But I think it works at work, at church, and even with your neighbors. And when the frustration begins to build, like the next time he or she doesn’t pack the way you do, remember this—hang tight because both of you will get to the same place in the end. And if it gets really hard—just go and sit with your Dearest Father and rest. He’ll whisper some things like “let it go—it doesn’t matter how they pack it just matters that you keep traveling together.” And you will say, “Oh yeah…that’s right.” And He will remind you once again that, it’s ok because…He’s got this.