Tuesday, June 15, 2010

It's the Little Things

The other day my girlfriend shared her theory with me that you can tell a lot about a person’s character by observing the way they wash dishes. She gave examples of how you could observe a person’s work ethic, ability to focus, commitment to complete tasks, and even dedication to others by how they handled the dishes. Ultimately, my friend’s point was that if you closely observe how a person handles seemingly insignificant tasks it will tell you A LOT about how he/she will handle larger responsibilities.

A few days later I reflected on my friend’s theory and thought about examples in my own life that demonstrate this observation. One particular experience immediately came to my mind that involved me and a former boyfriend. My friend was right—sometimes it’s just the little things that can tell you a lot…..

A Sanctuary Left in Disarray:

Some time ago I decided to hire a professional carpet cleaner to steam clean the floors of my home. At the time I was encouraged by my boyfriend to cancel the order because he volunteered to clean the carpet. He informed me that he and I could actually do a better job because he formerly owned a carpet cleaning business. This was great news for me!

Later that day in preparation for the carpet cleaning, we moved all of my furniture out of the “family room” into my dining room area. Now the front entrance of my home was in a temporary state of total disarray (which drove me crazy) but I didn’t really sweat it because I felt confident that everything would be placed back in order. Besides I would have clean carpet for free!

The next day, with all of the furniture still piled into my dining room, my boyfriend left my home to travel out-of-town to see his children-- then four days later he moved out-of-town in pursuit of a new job opportunity. Days went by and my furniture still remained piled in the living room yet I still continued to wait on my man to come back and clean the carpet (simultaneously allowing my home to stay in disarray). A few times I thought about calling the carpet cleaning company but I thought to myself, “Certainly my man is going to honor his commitment to clean my carpet? Besides he knows that I can’t possibly move this heavy furniture back in place by myself, right? Plus…he could do a better job.”

Weeks went by and finally three weeks later he came to visit me for the weekend but two days later he left my home again without placing a single item back in place. Matter of fact, he seemed to hardly even noticed that my couches, chairs and tables were pushed on-top of each other in the dining room. Actually, we both acted as if it was normal for the entrance to my home to continue to be cluttered. Over the weekend we had plenty of time to finish the task but instead we talked, we laughed, we loved and then he left. Come Monday morning my furniture remained piled up and my home remained the same—in shambles.

So why didn’t I just hire someone to help or complete the job myself? Good question. Unfortunately, I was so focused on missing this man and the shifting dynamics of our new long-distance relationship that I barely even noticed the disruption and disarray of my own space! What’s even more ironic is that the previous weekend I travelled to his new place and helped him organize and get comfortable in his home. Meanwhile….. my own home remained in chaos.

Eventually after 4 ½ long weeks it sunk in that I couldn’t sit around waiting on him to clean the carpet and move my furniture back in place. I finally realized that I was uncomfortable in my own house and that I needed to stop waiting for him to show up and get someone to help me move my furniture back in place. By this time it was apparent that “comfort at home” was no longer his priority.

I share this personal story because it is symbolic of so many lessons about unfocused, unbalanced and unreciprocated love. For me this story isn’t really about the arrangement of my furniture but it was about more about God allowing me to observe the “little things” and learn more about myself, my personal priorities and my relationship with this man.

Reflecting on the experience I realize that this particular incident was actually symbolic and totally reflective of my overall relationship. Unfortunately, I had made this man’s presence in my life a priority even though he repeatedly demonstrated that he was unprepared, unable and/or unwilling to honor commitments to me and our relationship. I think he had good intentions but he simply could not follow through with his commitments to me.

It was very easy for him to be indifferent to leaving my sanctuary in disarray and it was equally as easy for him to ignore my pain caused by a very unbalanced relationship. Our relationship had always been about me trying to meet his comfort level even at the expense of me overlooking my own needs. Sure he was a good man but the relationship was always unbalanced. The way he dealt with the furniture became very symbolic to how we both handled our overall relationship. There was a pattern that once personal challenges and/or opportunities availed themselves he immediately dropped everything and left things unfinished—in disarray.

I also learned a lot about myself through this process. The furniture story was reflective of how in my fear of rejection I also allowed things to pile up and create disarray in my life. In this particular case I neither protected the sacredness of my space nor my heart. Like so many other sisters, my fear of being alone allowed me to co-create a situation where my own comfort and sanctuary was neither honored by my man or myself.

In hind sight... I am struck by the fact that I sat uncomfortable in my own house for weeks waiting for “my man” to put my house back in order. The reality is that I never should have allowed that to go on for so long. It was my responsibility to make sure that my home and sanctuary was kept in order. My silence and complicit behavior sent the message that leaving my home (and heart) in disarray was okay with me.

As Kenny Rogers says, “You have to know when to hold, know when to fold them, know when to walk away and now when to run…..” Make sure that you pay attention to how your mate takes care of the little responsibilities in life; it may really help you learn more about that person in the long run—even yourself. Little things really do matter.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

TOSHA!! Where you been homie! This was so beautiful and timely for me...

and as usual very poignant.


Love you,


p.s. I finally started my blog: