The Whole Can (A Note on Marriage)
“You dripped right here” I pointed out the small splash of dark brown paint that had landed on our white trim to my husband. We were getting our carpets cleaned the next morning, so I took advantage of having to move all of the furniture out by painting a wall I had been meaning to get to. As my husband painted along the edge of the wall I said “careful!”.
A minute later, stepping over the completely full gallon of paint, I stumbled and kicked over THE WHOLE CAN. Not one drop landed on the drop cloths we laid down. It all spilled right onto the carpet. Between 1/2 and 3/4 gallon of dark greybrown paint sloshed out, immediately making a 12 inch by 12 inch and growing stain. Irremovable. Unfixable.
My husband picked up the paint can and said in an even toned voice “Grab some paper towels.” He spent 15 minutes on his hands and knees blotting out the stain on the carpet.
The paper towels came up stained with paint, but the county-fair-prize-winning-watermelon-size stain did not fade on the carpet.
Next, he went and got the shop vac and spent over an hour leaned over that stain I had made, pouring hot soapy water on it and methodically vacuuming it up. Pour, suction, pour, suction. All the while he just calmly asked me to refill the water bucket.
The stain is completely gone. Literally no trace. The carpet cleaners the next morning got down on their hands and knees to see if they could smell the paint in the carpet to find where it had been. They asked my husband to show them the shopvac and attachment he used to get it out, incredulous.
I can still feel that pit in my stomach at seeing the stain I had made, and then the hours after watching my husband physically working to remove every trace, my nagging replaying in my head. The tiny spot of brown paint on the trim I had pointed out to him. The impossibly large stain I had made he didn’t say a word, but he spoke with his actions. Him scrubbing that floor silently did not mean he wasn’t disappointed or angry at the situation. But it said, in the midst of it, “It’s ok. I still love you. Stains happen. I know you aren’t perfect. I know who you are. And I love you. I always will.”
I’ve been preaching at myself since then Jesus’ words in Matthew 7: “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own?”. It is so easy to see the imperfections in our partners, the needs they aren’t filling in us, the annoying habits, the shortcomings, without stopping to think of our own.
It wasn’t until sitting down to right this that I realized what I should be preaching at myself instead.
That I am imperfect, but Jesus loves me anyways.
That my spouse is imperfect, but Jesus loves him more than I ever could.
That God paired my imperfect self with his imperfect self to point always and forever up: Towards Jesus. Towards the one true love that never ever ends.
That Jesus removes our stains as thoroughly as that paint is gone. That he knows they are going to happen, but he loves us and rescues us anyways.
That I am profoundly thankful to have a spouse who preaches Jesus to me in his words, actions, and loves, and that my job is to proclaim Jesus right back.
And most of all, That Jesus’ love for me is extraordinary, unmerited, and unfailing. And that is the deep well out of which I can love my husband well.
Your job is to proclaim Jesus to the world, and the first and most important person to do that to is your spouse. We love, because HE FIRST loved us.