Are you listening to me?

You withheld sleep from my eyes.
I was troubled, I could not speak.
I thought of the days of long ago
and remembered the years long past.
At night I mused within my heart.
I pondered and my spirit questioned. (Psalm 77:5-7)

I was sitting with my wife recently after work, sharing with her some things that I had been agonizing over recently. Specific regrets from the past.

Without any hesitation, she spoke with a prophet’s clarion voice:

Are you listening to me? God’s permissive will is always for His greater glory and the sanctification of our children. Stop wallowing in regret and trust that He can do more with your imperfections and failures than you could ever imagine. God doesn’t deal with the man you say you wish you’d been. Just the real one. If you’d just let go, give it up to Him and move on, then He can do His thing. But if you’re going to get stuck in regret, that’s your deal. And look, what are your other options? Okay? It’s time for dinner.

Yeah, that.

She said what I already know: The mystery of God’s permissive will, the cross and resurrection, the “o happy fault” of Adam, St. Paul’s “power is made perfect in weakness.” All of these were there firmly lodged in my cerebral lock-box, conceptually precise ideas. But in this particular matter, my inner struggles remained sealed off from truth, from God, from my heart. But she, Tear in my Heart, effectively tore head down into my heart. I knew that grace had been given in that moment when I felt a liberating release within. Hope.

I love to think, write and teach theology, but my wife again and again makes it real and alive for me. She does — is — theology with piercing blue eyes, passionate love and lipstick on.

After she finished speaking she got up from her chair to take the chicken out of the oven. I managed to get up off the ground when it was time to eat.

And I slept well that night.

A good wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. (Proverbs 31:11)

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7 comments on “Are you listening to me?

  1. Anthony says:

    I have never met Patti, but I love you guys. When I grow up, I want to be like you. 🙂

  2. nos says:

    Trust me Anthony if you ever are blessed to meet the Neal family, enriched you will be…

    P.s. by the way Anthony my car needs fixing can I count on one your Midwestern hospitality!!!

    P.S.S Always the sage isn’t she Thomas. You blessed man you… JITIY baby JITIY + + + + + + + P.B.W.Y.A.A.

  3. Mandie DeVries says:

    I love how you love her.

  4. Judy Svendsen says:

    I love the picture of Patti! You both have a knack for saying the right thing at the right moment! Tell Patti I say hi.

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