I got a haircut last week. Not the salon kind. The emergency kind, the kind that your husband gives you because the handheld massager you tried to use to get the knots out of your neck is now firmly knotted to your head.
It’s one of those mornings. I haven’t slept well, and I wake up with my neck and shoulders stiff. Lying in bed still half asleep, I reach for the massager on my side table, plunk it on my neck and turn it on. It’s something I’ve done a million times. Only this time I feel a sharp tug on my head, and the massager comes to a groaning halt. The hair at the base of my scalp is straining against the unbearable pull. Is this what it feels like to be scalped?
“Pete, Pete,” I yell, “you have to help me!” Fortunately my husband is home. Pete runs in to see his wife, face down in the pillow, long hair splayed everywhere like rays around my head. I’m whimpering pitifully, holding the massager up close to my head, afraid to move it.
Before I can say anything else, Pete grabs the massager to assess the damage. “Aaaah! Don’t move it!” I scream.
“Well, how am I going to see anything? Look, can’t you just move closer to the side of the bed?” he says a tad impatiently. “I can’t see very well.”
By now I’ve started to cry a little. “I can’t,” I mumble into the pillow between sobs.
Pete gets a flashlight and takes another look. He concludes, “I’m going to have to cut your hair.”
“NO!” I say louder. How can he make such an important decision in such a short time? He didn’t even try. Now I’m crying because he’s so heartless. “That’s because it’s not his hair,” I think.
I tell him that those little knobs can be unscrewed. He does this, and there’s a little relief, but the massager is still stuck to my head with less than a pinky’s breadth between it and my scalp. “It’s just a little hair,” Pete says.
“No, don’t cut it!” I yell into the pillow. Though I’m not sure what else I would do, I think there must be something he’s overlooked. This is a hasty decision about something important to me, but obviously, less important to him.
While I’m thinking these things, Pete is ignoring me. Snip, snip, snip. My head stops hurting. But now my heart is broken, not because of my hair, but because of my husband’s insensitivity.
“Look, it was only this much.” Pete shows me a small clump of hair in his hand and then the massager with a considerably larger clump still tangled around its guts. He seems proud of his accomplishment.
I don’t say anything. I don’t even look up. “It’s going to be a miracle getting that out of there,” he says to no one in particular.
I’m afraid to feel the back of my head. I know I should say thank you, but the words get stuck around my hurt. Pete is shuffling around with something, I don’t know what. I still have my face buried in the pillow. A long minute passes.
Suddenly he recites mechanically, “Okay, thank you, Pete, for detaching the massager from my head. You’re welcome.” I hear him shutting the door, relieved he didn’t slam it. I know he’s puzzled at my lack of response, but I can’t offer an explanation.
I lie there, willing myself to feel more thankful than mad, but it’s not working. “How can you trust him to make important decisions for you, say, if you were in an accident? He’ll probably just do the most convenient thing.” a voice says. “In fact, how can you trust this man at all?” I know for sure this isn’t God or anything remotely good, but I can’t seem to hear anything else.
I try praying, “God, I need you to come to my rescue because this man you gave me isn’t making the grade right now.” Nothing. God doesn’t seem anywhere near my grouchy self. I don’t blame him. I remember that God inhabits the praises of his people, so I try to think of things to be thankful for. In my self-absorbed, miserable state, it’s slow going.
“Thank you, God, that Pete was home and got me unstuck,” I admit grudgingly. “Thank you that he knows what to do, even if he doesn’t take my feelings very seriously.” I’m not getting very far, but I know I can’t stay in this funk forever. I blurt out, “Please help me see him with your eyes.”
Like light spilling into darkness, it dawns on me that my husband is great in crisis situations precisely because he is so decisive. I’ve always admired his ability to take charge while others are milling around wondering what to do. He’s a man of action who sees the thing to be done and does it. I was his damsel in distress. He gets impatient with anything that stands in the way. He’s not perfect, but he’s not afraid.
It’s not that he thinks my feelings are irrelevant. I’ve seen him kneel to gently wipe the mud from my shoes. He stops by the roadside to pick me wild flowers and runs in the rain to get me an umbrella. This is the man God gave me.
Now I’m crying for a different reason.
Have you ever misjudged your spouse? How do you adjust your perspective?