No. No it’s not, I tell him.
I throw the sausage in the microwave and the kids are done before I ever make it to the table.
Normally that would irritate me, but not tonight.
Tonight I need some quiet.
We smear on butter and pour syrup and can I tell you how much I love butter?
“Well, it’s not going to be Wonderstruck,” I say. “Or Jonah. Priscilla can preach, but the videos are so long and I can’t touch her story. Like, really touch it. I want someone plain, average, living a life stretched by God. I want a story about a life, not a how-to manual. I want to walk with someone instead of having someone tell me how it is done. Maybe a memoir or an autobiography.”
He just stares at me from across the table. He chews on well-done sausage and his mouth is full, so I keep on talking.
“Maybe I’ll do Jen Hatmaker’s Seven. Or maybe not. I’m not too keen on giving up stuff,” I ramble on in crazy talk.
He rubs both hands on his head and I see him exhale.
“Lori. This is crazy. Why did you invite the ladies to do One Thousand Gifts? Wasn’t it because you lived it for a year? Wasn’t it because you felt led to do it?” He fires off the questions, one right after another.
“Why do you feel the need to do another study in 33 days?” he asks. “Why do you hold yourself captive to the calendar?”
“I don’t know. I miss it, I guess. I miss the community and we were just getting to the authentic part. I think they miss it too. I’ve heard from several of the women this week and they are ready to pencil it in on their calendars,” I say, feeling small as all the words tumble out of my mouth. Sometimes words sound better in my head than out loud. “I feel like you’re always telling me what to do. What not to do. What I should do. You make me crazy.”
“I’m your husband. It’s my job,” he answers me with a big grin. “When you get out from underneath my umbrella of protection it is my job to help you get back underneath it.”
“I have never stood underneath your umbrella. Don’t you remember the time I refused your offer of an umbrella in college? It was pouring rain and I preferred the downpour,” I say. I think about the black dress and the wedge heels I had worn the day it rained and I refused the umbrella.
I’ve always had a problem with submission, with the yielding, with the quiet.
“Really, Lori. Listen to me. What if you met with the ladies, once a week, and focused on relationships instead of the study? What if the next study came out of what you guys determined you needed based upon the relationships? What if you gave God space to pick your next study?” asks the pastor, the man holding my umbrella.
I shrug my shoulders, unwilling to submit. He’s right. I hate it when he’s right.
We clean our plates and he runs soap suds in the sink.
His hands rest on the counter and I watch his shoulders rise and fall as he breathes.
Our umbrella hangs in the mudroom and I notice it as I slip on my coat.
My hand lingers on the black and white checkered print and for a moment, I know what it is to stand under his umbrella.
I know what it means to submit…
I know what it is to hush.