Monday, July 22, 2013

They Can't Give What They Ain't Got

One day when Taylor and Caleb were little, we were out running errands and we got hungry. I pulled into an Arby's to go through the drive-thru because I, like everyone else, was in a hurry. The line was long with about five or six cars in front of us. That part wasn't so bad, the problem was the line was inching along.

However, the longer I was in line, the more committed I became to stay in line because I had already invested so much time in this venture. And we were only getting hungrier and hungrier for those roast beef sandwiches that Arby's sells.

We waited more than fifteen minutes before we ever ordered. That's a long time in the world of "fast food". But, the worst part is that when I finally pulled around the corner of the building and put our order in for our delicious roast beef sandwiches, this is the response I got: "We are out of roast beef."

Yes, you heard me right. Out....of...roast beef. Why are they even open since that's their main product? And why weren't they telling all of us in this dumb line this very relavant information before we got to the little black box? Could they not send a teenager outside to inform us of this development? Could they not put up a sign or something? How does this even happen?

Yeah, I'm still mad about it.

Mick Jagger was right. You can't always get what you want. That day I had an expectation that Arby's (a restaurant that proclaims "Arby's Roast Beef Sandwich Is Delicious!") would provide those sandwiches; but they couldn't deliver. They had no roast beef. Arby's could not give me what they did not have.

In the much the same way, I can look to other people and have expectations about what they are to provide for me. Some of my expectations may be completely reasonable, but if the person I'm looking to help doesn't have what I need, then he can't give it.

This dynamic can be present in any relationship, but I think it shows up the most in marriage. I need comfort, kindness, patience, and gentleness. Instead, maybe today my husband does not have those things to give. Maybe, he needs all of those things from me, but I'm not able. Maybe we both used up our daily supply of kindness and comfort on others or maybe we didn't have any to begin with. Either way, I am set up for a fall. I need comfort and I'm not getting it where I thought it was promised. My expectations are not getting met. His expectations are not getting met. We are (as one of our counselors has said) two ticks with no dog.

When my need for food wasn't met by Arby's that day, the need didn't go away. I was still hungry. My kids were still hungry. We had to begin looking for another source of sustenance. We found another restaurant that did have food and enjoyed our meal with thankfulness.

When my need for comfort is not being met by Kevin, I have to go to another source. God has given me friends, family, and Himself. There have been times when all I needed was a heart to heart with God. The simple reminder that He loves me, values me, and has not forgotten me is often enough. And there have been moments when I have needed Jesus with flesh on (a safe friend) who could listen and empathize with me. And there have been many days when being around my family for a holiday celebration filled my heart with what was missing.

God calls us to be the Body of Christ here on earth. In Ephesians 4:2, we are instructed to "be patient, bearing with one another in love." This is the practical working out of that verse. I have had to learn to be patient with others, receiving them where they are and recognizing they can't give me what they don't have. As human beings, we have limited supplies of patience, love, mercy, and roast beef. We run out of these things. But, God, who is rich in mercy, is always in full supply.

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