Sabbatical, Day 63: My Half-Empty Glass

With the school holidays kicking in today, Debbie has been planning all sorts of activities for our pair. Swimming, sleepovers, an Easter party and a trip to London (because Rebekah wants to see ‘the Queen’s house’) all feature.

Last night, she suggested I research the Wat Tyler Country Park on the web, with a view to visiting it today. Like Joshua and Caleb’s colleagues who reported on the existence of fearsome giants in the Promised Land, I told her after some surfing that by all means let’s go, but be prepared for a possible short trip, because our children were too young for much of what was mentioned on the website. What would a motorboat museum mean to them? A scuplture trail? Somewhere else I saw mention of bird hides – again, not something they would be ready for: how would they stay quiet and still? I didn’t mind trying it and admitted that the train sounded good, but I was pessimistic.

And this is where Debbie and I are so different. I have the kind of personality that looks for the problems. I figure you have to be ready for them before you leap in. Debbie, though, is a ‘can do’ person. She ploughs into something and worries about obstacles if and when she encounters them. When I foresee trouble, she hears that as me not wanting to get on with the task, and it frustrates her. It then frustrates me that she thinks I’m trying to find excuses! It happened yesterday when we were clearing out the garage. She kept giving me more things to cram in the car for the trip to the dump. I was worrying how I’d get them all in a small car safely; she saw no issue with just for once driving with restricted mirror vision.

It’s hard for each of us to cope with the other’s different approach at times. Each of us has to compromise and show an appreciation of the other’s strengths and concerns. It doesn’t come naturally, but it’s something to work on.

Such differences aren’t limited to married couples, they occur everywhere that human beings have to work together, churches included. We are under some illusion if we think it was all rosy in the apostolic Church, for example. Arguments over provision for widows, the place of the Gentiles, whether John Mark should get a second chance at mission, whether Paul should heed a prophecy about imprisonment – all these conflicts appear in the Acts of the Apostles. We need a lot of grace.

What happened in the end today? Setting out while there were still clouds in the sky, gradually God Photoshopped them out and revealed blue heavens. It was one of those beautiful Spring days that foretold the coming summer. We weren’t short on things for the children to do, because there were plenty of things at the park not mentioned on the website. Adventure playgrounds, craft shops, an ice cream kiosk. And the train was free today, because they were testing it before the summer season starts properly. The RSPB might well have hides on the marshes, but they also had activities for younger children. Our two decorated egg cups, and Rebekah was disappointed we didn’t have time for her to have her face painted as a princess.

Because we ended up spending so much time there. The motorboat museum can wait. And next time, I’d like to carry my camera bag there, as well as our picnic in my rucksack.


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