Ever since I was a college student, whether it was in the dorms or living by myself prior to marriage I had “my” office. It was the spot for deeper work, reflection, and journaling. It was where I could stash my books and pile my papers. When I got married, Annelle was gracious enough to allow me to continue having an office wherever we moved. Six years later we would have the worst argument of our marriage over “my” office…or more specifically, my use of the word, “my”.
Typically, the smaller second bedroom, has always been my go-to for an office space. We don’t have children yet and it was out of the way and out of sight…just in case a paper explosion occurred, Annelle could just shut the door and keep company’s eyes on the rest of the well-kept house. We never really had a conversation about a shared vision for the second bedroom space…I tended to always assume that space was “my” office.
That’s when it caught me by surprise one day when I was reading at the breakfast table and Annelle said irritably, “Why are you reading here?”
Smiling and obviously oblivious to her irritation I replied, “Enjoying some toast and this book is too good to put down, so I’m still reading it…” my voice trailed as I could see Annelle becoming clearly agitated throwing her hands up.
“You have a whole space of the house dedicated to you and your work, now you need the kitchen table too?”
I was a little hurt, taken aback, and clearly confused as I attempted to discern the source of her irritation, “Honey, we’ve always had an office space so I could keep my mess contained, isn’t that what you want?”
Annelle was getting more animated, “I want to have a guest room that is private for my sisters to sleep when they stay over. Emily and her husband make it work and Austin keeps the office space tidy. They make it work, it’s THEIR space.”
As usual, thinking I hear the cause of concern, I go into fixing mode, “Oh my gosh, yes we can make my office into a guest bedroom too! You should have said something earlier, I don’t mind sharing my office–”
Annelle cut me off saying, “You don’t get it…you are not getting it!” she said this storming off to the bedroom. Yeah she was right, I didn’t get it. I felt I was being accommodating, couldn’t she see that? I spent the afternoon cleaning the office immaculately. Not a paper on the floor, the desk was reasonably picked up. In truth, the office hadn’t looked this good…ever. I priced out some options for a guest bed setup with nightstand and lamp. Surely, I thought Annelle will be impressed and I’ll get back in good graces!
Started the conversation like a winner, “Annelle, I’ve got a plan for my office…” The conversation didn’t last beyond that phrase before I was sent packing in wounded retreat back to my office. As I sat pouting about how in the right I was, that was when the Lord provided me clarity into the situation. I’ve claimed complete domain over this room, but isn’t this our house? I keep saying over and over how I can modify “my” office, when this could be and should be OUR office and guest room…I felt like the year’s biggest jerk. Here I was thinking how high and mighty I was being, when in reality, it was my self-centeredness that started the whole mess.
When Annelle and I processed this out together, that perception was correct. She felt like she had no say in the vision for that space and that I was holding it over her by continually emphasizing my perceived ownership of the space. See this is the problem with “MY”. It can be blinding…
We think about things affecting, “MY” life…seldom considering the affect our own lives have on those around us.
We think about “MY” purpose…when in actuality our purposes are rarely accomplishable alone.
We think about “MY” classroom…even though learning is a shared experience and should be owned by both learners and teachers.
MY is a word of sole-ownership and can be quite lonely, but WE is empowering and life bringing. Our lives are not an individual journey, we live in close proximity with hundreds of others whose lives are as rich, diverse, and unique as our own. This adds continuous blessings and growth for all of us.
Writer’s Note: Brief hiatus from writing…just had to take time to get our new Ag Ed building in order, I’ll be sure to post pictures soon!! Feb. is always the toughest month of the year…more on that in a later post!! 😉