Disclaimer: I am taking creative license with Jesus’ stories in this series. I realize that I am making different applications and changing some details. However, the principles in the parables I am sharing are what I believe the Bible and Christian experience teach us about marriage.
His feet felt like lead as he carried his briefcase to the car. It, like his feet, was heavier today since it held all the contents of his desk. His heart was heavier, too.
He slid the briefcase onto the backseat, then sank heavily into the driver’s seat. Loosening his tie, he laid his head back on the headrest and tried to think. Nothing. He was simply numb.
Hours earlier, he had punched his time card and began his day like any other, answering e-mails and reviewing the day’s agenda. He had been engrossed in a detailed answer to a customer when he felt a hand on his shoulder. As he looked up into his boss’ face, the boss gave a plastic smile that didn’t quite make it to his eyes.
“I need to see you in my office.” Always right to the point. Dropping the e-mail to the task bar, he rose from his chair and followed his boss. When he was seated, his boss began to drone about recent office politics and some necessary cuts.
A small explosion went off somewhere in his brain. Dampness began to spread across his palms, and his chest felt as if his heart were desperate for an escape. When he rose from the chair fifteen minutes later, he only had the vague realization that his boss had ordered him to clear his desk and go home. For good.
Back at his desk, he began shutting down the office computer for the final time. His unfinished e-mail taunted him with its trailing words. “Our company will do all possible to ensure your satisfaction. Please let me know if there is any other way I can be of service. Sincerely…”
“Satisfaction….of service,” he muttered, mocking his own typed words. With a jab of the power button, he realized that someone else’s name would follow his “Sincerely” later this afternoon.
Passing the desks of his co-workers for the last decade, he felt their stares on him. He heard his name in a hushed tone as he passed the water cooler. Reaching the door, he paused and looked over at his usual lunch buddy. But Tom was engrossed in some papers and never looked up. The client papers that had been on his desk just moments before. The lump in his throat refused to budge as he closed the door and ten years of his life behind him.
It wasn’t until he pulled in the driveway that it dawned on him that his wife would have to know. And that he would have to tell her. It was unfair. He had worked his hardest, been his best, put forth all the effort he had. But office politics and unethical practices had won out. He had been stripped of his dignity. He was alone, worthless and exposed. Or so he felt.
He dropped one leaden foot to the pavement and pushed himself from the car. “My family would be better off if I were dead.” The thought flitted through his mind, taunting him mercilessly as he pushed the door open to the home he was paying for with a salary that was now ended.
Such was the man she saw as she hurried from the kitchen to find why he was home so early. Broken, bleeding, defeated, rejected by the world of corporate, power-hungry thieves. Yes, after years of knowing this man, she saw that at a glance. Nothing else could devastate her man enough to give him that look. It wasn’t grief or physical pain. It was the look of a man stripped of all he had and left for dead.
Despite the fear that gripped her heart, the first emotion that flooded her was compassion. No censure, no questions, no lectures, no wringing of her hands. She held out her arms and went to him.
An injury takes time to heal. A heart takes much longer. Yet, she began the process. She bandaged and soothed the wound with a listening ear and gentle touch. She gave him something to eat and made sure he at least attempted it. Then, she encouraged him to shut out the world with a healthy nap.
The type of care that a wife gives to her husband when he is broken is costly. She has to rise above her own fears and refuse the luxury of weeping. It is the time she stands strong for the one who has stood in that place so long for her. She gives up her schedule, her agenda and her life to focus on restoring him to a place of healing.
When Jesus gave this story, He asked the lawyer questioning him, “Which…was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves?” The lawyer answered, “He that showed mercy on him.” Jesus then told him to “Go, and do thou likewise.”
Sometimes marriage is more than romantic feelings or even commitment. Sometimes it is mercy on the broken. Simply doing to our spouses what we would want them to do to us.
Note: The inspiration for this particular post came from my oldest son. I asked him several years ago what kind of wife he wanted to have. He said, “I want a wife like the Good Samaritan.” This is what I imagine her to be. By God’s grace, I want to be that wife. How about you?