“Woman, make me a sandwich!” said my husband, Jordan as he looked at me with a wry grin on his face. He knew he’d get a reaction with the way he framed his request. I turned and gave him a withering look.
Then I laughed, throwing my head back, because I couldn’t succeed in pretending to be angry for very long. In a sweet and slightly snarky tone, I said with a smile, “Now, you’ll have to ask a little more nicely if you want me to do THAT for you.”
I’m so glad that we can joke about these things after 19 years of marriage, but I couldn’t deny that deep down his request rankled just a bit. It was not a dissimilar feeling to having a few grains of sand stuck inside the bottom of my sandal. Irritating, but not greatly so.
But WHY should this simple request bother me at all? Was I being hypersensitive?
Well, for one, I hate making sandwiches. It’s the fact that I have to drag out (what feels like) half the contents of my fridge. Then there are the crumbs all over my counter and a mess in my sink with the discarded parts of lettuce, tomato, etc… Maybe I’m a little OCD, but it’s just a hassle.
It’s also that I’m gluten free, so I rarely make a sandwich for myself. I’m not hyper-allergic, so I don’t have problems from just touching bread. And, yes, I know there’s gluten-free bread and all, but most of it tastes like cardboard or worse, and 2 slices of bread (even if it’s gluten free) are just too many carbs for me to regularly consume in one sitting. So, yes, there’s probably a little resentment there, too.
Most of all, though, I think it is the assumption that I’m the one in the relationship who should make his sandwich, which is what he eats for lunch almost every day during his busy season at work. I would never ask him to make my lunch for me, so why should I have to make his sandwich for him?
Now, I know I may have stirred up some strong feelings in you, my reader. Before you flip out and spout women’s rights all over me, you should know that my husband loves and respects me, and he isn’t some male chauvinist pig.
Or maybe you’re on the opposite side of the field, and you think I should be more understanding and appreciative of my man and just make him a sandwich already. You might tell me to read The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands, which, by the way, I have.
Honestly, his whole sandwich-request thing is not unreasonable. There is an unofficial sharing of duties in our household in the mornings. He takes our eldest to school, and I clean up the kitchen after breakfast and make his sandwich. This all sounds quite logical. So what’s my problem?
I could wax poetic here about needing to be a better servant in my household, having the mind of Christ and/or about being a true wifely helpmate. Or I could just as easily talk about how women need to be liberated from these old-fashioned gender roles. Or maybe how we need to be liberated from feeling like we need to be liberated…. But nope, I’m going to stop right there.
Over the period of a few months I continued to loosely and randomly ponder these sandwich thoughts. I was making him sandwiches a few times per week, albeit with some lingering irritation and resentment.
Then last week I got a text message.
I was trying to squeeze in some much-needed exercise early on a weekday morning by walking the hills in our neighborhood with our puppy. It was beautiful outside, and I was about 2/3 done when a text from Jordan buzzed my phone. I looked down and saw, “6 minutes to sandwich.”
Now, there was absolutely no need to take instant offense at this text. My husband was telling me that he would have to leave for work in 6 minutes and would need his sandwich.
Yet, despite my logical, mental understanding of this, I had an immediate emotional flare of anger and an onslaught of different thoughts. Oh goodness, I should have made that stupid sandwich earlier. I’m not sure I’ll make it back in time. Well, he can just make his own d— sandwich. He can make his own d— sandwiches from now until eternity. What the heck is HIS problem? Stupid sandwiches…. He can just starve. Sheesh. What the heck is MY problem?
I knew that my thoughts needed help of a supernatural kind. Did I want the peace of my entire day to die in an angry battle on the mole hill I was getting ready to escalate into a mountain? NO.
So, in my spirit, I cried out to the Lord for help. Lord, help me! Help me to see this differently. I can choose in this moment how I feel. I can choose to be thankful. I can choose to be thankful I have a husband who needs a sandwich because he goes to work. He goes to work to provide for our family. He is an excellent provider, and really, it’s not a big deal that he needs a sandwich. Thank you Lord that I get to make his sandwiches. I will make his sandwiches with thankfulness and joy. I am thankful that I GET to make his sandwiches.
In that moment, as I prayed, my heart condition changed. I can’t explain it, but the anger just melted away, the irritation fled, and I truly was thankful. My entire perspective had changed.
By the time I got back to the house, just a few minutes later, I was happy as could be. I quickly made that sandwich for him and sent him off to work with a smile. The irritation never came back.
I’ve made more sandwiches since then with no more issues.
I don’t share this story so that you can say, boy, she’s a really great (or crappy) wife. Instead, I share it because I’m desperately flawed. We all are, but as believers in Jesus Christ we have a confident expectation of something better.
Whether it’s at work or at home, we each have our own individual hot-button issues of ongoing irritation and complaint. We can choose to nit-pick these issues to death, trying to politicize and justify our irritation/anger/resentment. Or we can realize that the responses generated from an ongoing place of anger/bitterness will eventually damage one or more of our treasured relationships.
While your hot-button thing may not be making sandwiches for your husband, we serve a God who is big enough and powerful enough and personally-involved enough to radically free us from that thing (whatever it is) and give us a brand new perspective. This new perspective can bring inexplicable joy and peace in place of ongoing anger.
We may be desperately flawed, but we serve a God who is bigger than our issues. And as believers, we have the source of that power living on the inside of us in the form of the Holy Spirit.
My prayer for you, my reader, is that you will tap into that supernatural source of help today. May your days be full of peace, no matter the sort of text messages you receive. May you be filled with joy as you invite the Holy Spirit to change your perspective, trusting God to accomplish His work in you. Blessings!