My Husband and the Housekeeper
I get way too worked up about stuff I cannot control. I have intense conversations with myself (usually right before bedtime) where I imagine myself magically marching on Capitol Hill. I speak truth to power and Everything. Changes.
Of course, with this discourse knocking around only in my own head, Nothing. Ever. Changes., especially my insomnia – which is as reliable as taxes and ranting women on ABC’s The View.
My husband is so not like me.
Many, many years ago he was like me until a very wise friend of his offered him some sage advice: “learn to become amused by that which most annoys.”
He took it to heart, and so with the one exception of my monthly Visa bill, he gets worked up about not much at all.
That’s why it was truly shocking to find him in a high state of agitation a few weeks ago after a weekend away with the state National Guard.
Here’s what rocked his world: He was dressed out in his military uniform (a fine, fine looking specimen) and had tucked into a Food Lion near the South Carolina-Georgia line (sounds like a good name for a country band!)
At any rate, there he was in the dairy aisle, when according to his account of things, this precious older woman, estimated to be in her late 70s to early 80s, wandered over to him.
As so often happens when my husband or son are in uniform, amazing citizens thank them for their service. It gets me every time. I never get used to how generous real Americans are and it’s such a powerful reminder that these folks are rarely accounted for by the media and news feeds that keep me awake at night and wanting to march on Capitol Hill.
But I digress.
Back to our lady friend. In the Food Lion. She shuffles over to my hunky husband and barely above a whisper thanks him for his service.
This sentiment of appreciation is one my husband never takes for granted. His standard reply is to be grateful in return noting, “We all serve, just not all of us in uniform.”
And so it was he asked our sweet lady friend what she did to spend her time.
And here’s where he got really animated.
He said she lowered her head as if she were ashamed and he could barely hear when she answered, “I keep house.” He had to ask her to repeat it, and so she said it so low and so sad, “I keep house.”
He said to her, “Ma’am, without people like you keeping house, there would be no reason for people like me to wear this suit.”
My husband said he left that sweet lady – that homemaker – and that Food Lion in a fury. And now these last few weeks he is anything but amused by that which most annoys.
He’s just plain annoyed, angry actually, with all the people – with this society – with anyone who ever had a hand in leading this lady to buy into the lie that her life at home, raising kids, being a wife, serving her community, building a life – whatever her story happens to be, is somehow less than.
Truth be told, we have no idea about her backstory. But there are things we can know simply because we share the human experience: She has seen her share of smiles and sorrow. She has struggled. No doubt she knows regret. Hopefully she has laughed a lot and we pray, known enduring love.
She made the decision to get out of bed that morning and to reach beyond herself and express gratitude. She told my husband she “prays every day” for our men and women in uniform.
Who knows how mightily God is using her steadfast prayers or the countless blessings He’s bestowing on troops at home and abroad because of her faithfulness?
No, the problem is not this precious lady.
It’s a culture that values success above significance.
The world looks at spreadsheets, cars and cash, the hits on your Instagram account and proclaims success.
But success is mostly what we achieve for ourselves and it is elusive. It rarely fails to satisfy because it always demands more.
I often think of the story retired college football coach Urban Meyer tells of what happened only minutes after his team at that time, the Florida Gators, won their second national championship in the wee hours of 2009.
Instead of kissing trophies, rolling around in confetti, and sharing one of life’s more sacred sports moments with Tim Tebow and the rest of his team – relishing every second of success, in other words – Meyer tucked into an office by himself, closed the door, and started e-mailing recruits!
He says he never made it out of the office that night to celebrate the victory because he was “obsessed with what’s next.”
Significance, on the other hand, comes through what we do for others. It’s not defined by “what’s next” but by “how can I bless?” It’s not about the acts, but about a motivated heart, and for people of faith, about the One who claims us all as significant because we are His.
Which brings us back to our lady friend at Food Lion. Raising a family and keeping a home is no joke and no small task. With God’s great grace, a couple of decades flash by, and there’s no test to measure pass/fail. All we can do is trust that we’ve poured enough into our kids, had more hits than misses, enough for them to leave us and restart the building process all over again in their own homes, with their own families.
By that measure, what “career” could possibly be as important and touch the future with greater impact than a homemaker?
The Food Lion lady is a permanent part of our prayer list now.
My husband and I wish she knew how very grateful we are for her service.
As a young TV news reporter, Christy mistakenly drove the bad guys away from the crime scene. If you're looking for a funny and inspirational speaker for your next event - contact Christy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 803.908.7630. For information click HERE.