Love in the Time of Car Trouble


February has not been my month.

The bad times started when I drove to the other side of town to check out a new gym and emerged, sweaty and relaxed, an hour later, only to discover that I had parked in a poorly marked retail space and my car had been towed.

When I finally made it home, my wallet $135 lighter, I miserably confessed to my husband what had happened. But instead of getting frustrated or upset, he comforted me.

“These things happen,” he said. “Put it out of your mind.”

Exactly a week later, I was on my way to a work meeting when I drifted into a sharp curb just a few dozen yards from my own driveway. I had been entering directions in my phone, and knew as soon as I felt the jolt that I had punctured a tire.

The walk of shame back to my own front door was all too short.

“I can’t believe it,” I blurted out. “I just gave myself a flat tire. I’m so stupid.”

Ben didn’t even cringe. He just opened his arms and drew me into a comforting hug.

A new tire set us back another $135. Someday it might be funny, but not today.

With a full-time job, daily deadlines, and a four-month-old baby, I know I’ve been a little more scattered lately. I have a definite case of mom brain, and my two recent automobile misfortunes have made me doubt myself every time I get on the road. I am still completely annoyed with myself.

Despite the wasted money and the hassle, though, my husband hasn’t brought the subject back up once. He hasn’t criticized my driving or given me any indication that I’ve lost his trust. Most amazingly, he hasn’t once nagged me as I head out the door, keys in hand — not even so much as a passive-aggressive encouragement to drive safely.

He is loving me far better than I am loving myself.

As I’m marveling at this grace that I feel I don’t deserve, I’ve had a tough realization: if the situation were reversed, I am absolutely certain I would not offer Ben as much grace as he is offering me.

Despite my best intentions, I’m at heart a nagger and a needler. I find ways to say “I told you so.” And I hate hate HATE wasted money — if I were in Ben’s shoes, I would let the two pricey incidents bother me, and make little effort to hide that fact. It would be almost impossible for me to avoid making comments about his driving and warning him to be careful each time he got behind the wheel.

That’s who I am, and I’m not proud. I remember the line in the Bible’s famous 1 Corinthians 13 “Love Passage:” “Love keeps no record of wrongs.” I have a long way to go before I can honestly say that’s true of me.

But one of the privileges of marriage, I’ve found, is learning lessons about loving well from your spouse. Ben’s grace and kindness to me has not only comforted me; it has challenged me to grow. The next time someone I love makes a costly mistake that puts me out, I’m going to remember my husband’s warm, forgiving embrace. I’ll do my best to respond gently and kindly.

My love may not be perfect, but thanks to my husband, I’m inspired to love better.


Flickr/Gerry Balding

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