Audrey was known as a good neighbor, a cheerful wife, and a generous, considerate person who loved to go out of her way to be helpful.
Ralph was proud of his cheerful, neighborly wife, who never fussed at him, even when he brought guests home on short notice.
In the consulting room, she said:
“I’m a very unhappy person. I came to find out why.” The following illustration gives the reason.
HER (thinking): Oh, no, not again.
She says: I’d be glad to entertain your guests.
HER (thinking): I hate this.
She says: So glad to have you over after church.
Isn’t it strange that Audrey was more concerned about appearing to be cheerful arid generous than really being cheerful and generous?
This intelligent woman didn’t seem to realize the difference between acting and being real. Her invisible, but very heavy, burden was self-centeredness and deception. She called it neighborliness and cooperation. How true these verses are:
The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways (Jeremiah 17:9-10).
Like so many of us, all Audrey needed was some instruction. No one needed to tell her that all her hard work only produced more personal misery. She saw where she was wrong and asked God to replace her selfish, deceitful spirit with His spirit of truth and service. Put in a Bible verse:
The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith (1 Timothy 1:5).
Then she worked out a more realistic schedule with her husband and neighbors. This was not as easy as it sounds.
First, she had to admit to Ralph that much of her friendly cooperation was just plain phoniness. He didn’t take it very well at first, but it was true, and he had to live with it.
Second, they needed to negotiate a new plan. This wasn’t easy either. Ralph was so accustomed to Audrey’s agreeing with everything, he had to get used to contrary opinions coming from her. Ralph, in the past, could easily get his own opinion accepted, it seemed, but now he frequently heard her say:
“You haven’t changed my mind.” That was a stopper when they came to a deadlock.
Third, they had to learn to settle deadlocks—that is, making decisions knowing that their opinions differed. In such cases, one of them had to make the decision, and the other had to concede.
In the long run, Audrey and Ralph built a good marriage on the firm foundation of truth.