Bounding down the stairs from my home office, I felt productive. It was only Tuesday and I had already finished most of Sunday's sermon, solved three minor Sunday school crises, written the week's newspaper column, and prayed with two hospitalized church members. Some days you just feel like a successful minister, I thought.
On my way to the coffee maker in the kitchen, I could see my wife, Joy, on her knees in the living room surrounded by piles of clean-yet-unfolded laundry.
"I can't do this anymore," Joy blurted out.
I laughed. "Who can?" I joked, folding a towel.
She broke into tears.
I stopped laughing.
"It's just too much."
I matched a pair of socks. "Honey, I know. And I'll help, okay?" Must be that time of the month, I thought.
"I don't mean this," she sobbed, gesturing to the ever-present laundry.
"I mean (gasp) our life. I can't (three convulsive, inhaling gasps) live—this—way—any longer."
Even before it came out of my mouth, I knew it was a dumb thing to say. But that's never stopped me before. "What way?"
Torn between bewilderment and anger, I needed specifics. "Every-thing?"
She took a deep breath and then let fly a script she had obviously been thinking about for a long time: "You working all the time—me left with the kids. You stomping up the stairs, angry at the latest church problem—me left wondering why you're mad at me. You dictating the schedule—me adjusting to the schedule. "Every-thing!"
She paused, looked up from the laundry, and stared me straight in the eye: "I hate my life. Something has to change. I cannot do this any more!"
I was prepared to help with unmatched socks, but this? I felt like a tourist standing at the ocean end of a long pier, taking pictures of an incoming tidal wave. Her next words ...