Where’s the line?

30 Nov

This past weekend when we were with Travis’ family, he made some comments about me that I didn’t appreciate (nor did I think they were true). Since we drove back, I took the liberty of bringing the biggest suitcase we own – all of my big cozy sweaters take up a lot of room! And since I can’t wear them in Denver (it’s never cold enough), I figured that I might as well bring them back to Minnesota where it was cold enough.

Well, apparently this just proved to Travis something he had suspected all along – I am your typical woman packer. You’ve seen her at the airport. 5 suitcases and a tote bag that all match. She has to put them on the dolly because there are too many to carry. You wonder as she walks by “Why on earth does she need that much luggage? I hope she’s moving somewhere for several years.”

Ok, I can guarantee that I’m not that bad. I am actually able to carry on my suitcase for 99% of the flights we go on now (Mexico in January will be an exception). I leave my beauty products at home when they are bigger than 3 oz. I plan on wearing the same pair of pants more than once (gasp!). I bring one pair of shoes that will go with everything I packed (and usually try to keep all my clothes to either a goes-with-brown or a goes-with-black palette). I’m being creative so that I can carry on and please Travis. Do I not deserve some credit here?

[For the record, Travis does acknowledge and appreciate my efforts to carry on my luggage for flights. The comments he makes are playful in nature.]

Another comment that Travis made was when he was going through some clothes that no longer fit his younger (by 10 years!) brother, that his mom thought would fit Travis. “I need some more work shirts,” he said, “because Kathy keeps throwing mine away.” Now, that comment would probably irritate me even if it were true, but the thing is, it’s NOT! I have not thrown away even ONE of Travis’ work shirts and honestly, I have no idea where that comment even came from. Whatever, DEAR.

This blog is not a husband rant. Rather, these funny situations have highlighted a few things for me. One, I continue to struggle with the idea of being misunderstood. These comments that Travis makes are, from his perspective, all in good fun and aren’t intended to be criticizing, mean or derogatory. But I struggle with taking them in stride. Not because I think Travis really thinks that I’m materialistic or am on a warpath against his work shirts but because they are contradictory to who I think I am.

You see, I can’t handle being labeled materialistic. Mostly because I believe that I am not materialistic. Or at least I’m trying hard enough to not be materialistic that I think I’ve earned getting rid of that label. Ok, so maybe in contrast to Travis, I am slightly materialistic. But he drools over tools the same way I drool over new sweaters. Just saying…

Nonetheless, I have identified myself as “not materialistic.” I have also identified myself as supporting my husband’s ruggedness, which means dirty work shirts, tattered jeans, and shoes with holes in them. I just won’t support him in public. 😉

So Travis’ comments bother me because I feel like I’m being misunderstood. That’s not how I really am! I have to prove to you that I’m not like that! But that is not the way of Christ – He allowed people to form wrong impressions of Him. He knew who He was and didn’t need other people to understand Him.

His comments have also shown me another instance of where there is a fine line between an action being in faith and an action being a sin. Travis isn’t the only person who makes comments like that. I know someone else who likes to point out idiosyncrasies and quirky behaviors in front of other people… me.

I’ve been known to rib Travis about his attire selections or preferences. Or about something stupid he did. Or his hair. Or his hobo socks. Any of his quirks have been fair game.

But there is a line. I have to say that sometimes I make jokes at Travis’ expense because I’m actually a little bit mad or annoyed at him. Or I secretly hope that somehow, my comment will get him to change. Or I need other people to understand that I did NOT let my husband out of the house dressed that way. In short, those jokes often come out of lack of respect for Travis – and that is unacceptable.

I’ve often felt like my jokes go over the line – and I’ve asked Travis if it bothers him. He has repeatedly said no, that he actually thinks they’re kind of funny. But they just don’t sit right with me. And when I brought up my struggle with the comments that Travis made this past weekend about me, he seemed surprised that they bothered me so much (especially since I make those kind of jokes about him right back).

Which shows me that while I do believe Travis can make those jokes in faith (he is a chronic jokester, after all), I cannot. I want our marriage to faithfully represent the love of Christ for His church and am not sure that my witty comments about Trav’s mullet haircut serve that purpose. If Travis thinks joking about my need to match my shoes to my shirt can represent that love, more power to him (and more grace to me!). But, as with a lot of things in the Christian life, there’s a line between good, clean fun and sin masquerading as a joke.

So where is that line? What is ok to joke about, and what isn’t? How much time should you spend doing things for other people, and how much time should you spend on yourself? What about money – how much should you keep and how much should you give away? How much time should you spend at your job? How much time should you spend getting ready in the morning? What size of house should you have? How new of a car?

All of these are amoral things in and of themselves – and no matter how much I read and study, I cannot find any concrete criteria to answer these questions.

That’s because there is none. If the Christian life had rules, it would cease to be based in freedom. If God didn’t give us choices, we couldn’t choose to love Him over worldly things. The line between freedom and sin is a thin one, one wrought by the Spirit in our hearts. Sin is indicated by the Spirit’s conviction in our hearts. Freedom is characterized by joy. I keep looking for the line, asking God to just tell me already what He wants from me.

God is telling me what He wants. The absence of a concrete line is God’s way of telling me that He wants a relationship with me, instead of me just obeying a bunch of rules. Since there is no determined criteria, I have to stay in tune with the Spirit through an intimate relationship with God and let my heart and convictions indicate to me where the line is for me.

So, to stay on the freedom side of the line, I am going to respond to the Spirit’s conviction and try to stop poking fun at Travis in front of other people. I want to respect him and support him, no matter how ridiculous or silly I think he is! Like I mentioned in a recent blog post, I am also going to stop shopping for myself, since the Spirit has convicted me that I have an inordinate amount of clothing. I am also praying for the grace to respond to other convictions given by the Spirit.

Here’s to walking the line!

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