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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/10/08)

TITLE: No Deadbolt on This Mouth
By Sally Hanan


Cindy’s complaining again. This time, it’s about her husband’s habit of leaving his underwear by the end of the bed.

“It’s so gross. And he doesn’t put the seat back down when he’s finished in the bathroom, and he refuses to flush at night and then I’m the one kneeling by the bowl with a pumice stone trying to get rid of the ring he’s made…”

I wonder how long she’ll complain for this time.

We had agreed to come together for some mutual support, to pray, to learn from each other. I don’t think that Cindy has figured out yet that she’s not much of a support to me, and the only thing she’s teaching me is that it makes one look very ugly when all they do is complain about the man they promised to love and cherish for ever.

I know her husband. We used to hang out together a lot in college because he took many of the classes I took and he’d help me with the more difficult assignments. He’s a good man. He’s honest, funny, a great father.

I get up and walk to the window.

The thing is, I know all about people like Cindy. I used to be like her. I have no idea if she berates her husband at home too, or if she sequesters her thoughts until we meet up. I’m willing to bet there’s no lock on her mouth, just like there was no dead bolt on mine. My mind wanders back to February of 2005.
“Jenna’s husband does all the cooking and he even irons the kids’ clothes!”

“Well, bully for him.” Bob’s head stayed behind his book.

“Jenna said that he took her out to dinner at the most romantic restaurant on Valentine’s Day—he had booked the table six months in advance. She says that it made her feel so special and loved.”

That was when everything changed for me.

Bob threw his book across the room and yelled at me. I had never heard him shout before. “Susan, if you want to marry someone like Jenna’s husband, you go right ahead. I am so tired of hearing you carp on about everyone else’s spouse and how wonderful they are, yet you can find nothing good to say to me. I feel like a broken record when I say for the last time, stop comparing me to everyone else. I am not them; I am who God made me to be, and it is obvious this person is not good enough for you.”

I watched him as he lifted his jacket off the back of the kitchen chair. He headed for the door. I saw the tears in his eyes. I saw his hand slam into the wall. He stopped there for a moment to turn his head and stare at me. The coldness in his eyes made me shudder. “I’m leaving you Susan. I’ve been waiting and praying and hoping, but you have never changed, and I can’t live like this anymore.” And then he was gone.

It’s ironic, but as soon as he was not in the house anymore, I missed so many good things about him: his grin, his hugs, his interminable patience with the kids, his wisdom. Everything that had seemed so large and unbearable became small and petty. Everything wonderful about him loomed loud and large.

I turn back from the window and sit with these women.
“Cindy,” I say. “Be glad that you have underwear to pick up. There may come a day when your floor is clean but your house is empty and you are alone.” Cindy looked offended. “But…”

“Cindy, let me tell you a story…” And I tell her about Bob and me. I tell her about my discontentment with him; I tell her about the things I said; I tell her about my pain.”

“But Bob is an incredible husband and…and you two are so happy together.” Cindy looks confused.

“Yes, we are now, because I decided to look at him through God’s eyes. I am blessed to have a man that can forgive me for all those years I put him through.” I deliberately let my eyes pierce hers. “Cindy, please don’t keep doing what you are doing to your husband. It will end up destroying both of you.”

There is silence. I can see the self-condemnation on Cindy’s face. I take her hand, I bow my head, and I say,
“Let’s pray.”

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This article has been read 875 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Karen Wilber01/17/08
So much truth here. Heard a wonderful sermon series that this would would have been a perfect illustration for. She kept praying for God to change her husband, then one day it hit her...she needed God to change her. They had a wonderful marriage after that -- even through his slow, painful decline into illness. Without that prayer and change she would have missed so many blessings.

Your MC is one smart lady.
Holly Westefeld01/17/08
I love your title, and application of the topic. It clearly shows how disrespect can threaten marriage.

One thing confused me, though.
"I turn back from the window and sit with these women."
Everything else seemed to indicate that it was just the two of them.
James Clem 01/17/08
One more vote for the title. Great Ending.
LauraLee Shaw01/18/08
What a provoking title!!! And convicting. Thank you for reminding me to put my small criticisms of my spouse under lock and key...all the while, realizing God made him just for me.
Dee Yoder 01/18/08
This really illustrates the topic with power and conviction. How many times do we voice discontent with those we love? Very important message in your story.
Verna Cole Mitchell 01/18/08
You illustrated an important message with your interesting story.
Joanne Sher 01/19/08
A lesson learned indeed. Great job with the flashback, and I love the MC's voice. Such an important lesson.
Kristen Hester01/21/08
Very well written. Powerful message. Great entry all around. Bravo for you. God bless.

BTW-I decided long ago everytime my husband did something that bothered me, I'd think of something positive. For example: He's messy, but he doensn't care when I'M messy.
Paula Titus 01/21/08
This story caught my attention and drew me in. Better than that - it convicted me. Thank you.
Debbie Roome 01/22/08
Very impactful story.
Peter Stone01/22/08
So true that criticism is extremely damaging. And encouraging to see relationships repaired by God's grace.
Debbie Wistrom01/22/08
Wonderful-all of it.
Jan Ackerson 01/22/08
Super title, and a very good story that would make a wonderful discussion-starter for womens' groups.
Betty Castleberry01/22/08
It irks me when I hear women bad-mouthing their husbands. You conveyed this so well. Nicely done.
Linda Watson Owen01/22/08
Wow, friend! This is incredibly powerful writing! I know a young woman who I've wanted to say exactly the same thoughts to, but just can't. Sure wish I could put this story in her hands. In today's climate of 'empowerment' for women, so many have lost touch with men's needs and sensitivities. This story is so 'right on'. I'm hoping it gets out there.
Sara Harricharan 01/23/08
Lots of emotion here. I'm glad that Susan had a chance to change and when she did, she was able to see Bob in a new light. The title was right on!

RED PEN: There's a quotation mark on the end of the sentence where Susan's telling Cindy about her and Bob, except it's not dialouge. Sorry to be nitpicky!
Loren T. Lowery01/23/08
Great very realistic story with an even better message, don't try to change someone else before noticing the pole in your own eye. Nice writing that flowed well.
Lisa Graham01/23/08
Excellent message in the story and perfect for topic. I enjoyed the realistic writing style.
Patty Wysong01/23/08
YES! Excellent example of the topic and an even better message that so many women need to hear! (This is one of my favorite soap boxes-LoL) And the title is Super. :-)
Tim Pickl01/23/08
Wow! Masterfully written story. This would make a great Devotional.
Sheri Gordon01/23/08
This is a great example for many wives. The format works well for this story -- the present and going back. This would be a good skit for a woman's retreat. Nice job with the topic.