Today is the fourth Sunday in Advent, ushering in the theme of Love, which, as it turns out, can show up in the most unlikely places.
Last summer my brother Peter gave me a fabulous set of elk antlers from one of his annual hunting trips to Montana. I’ve wanted a set for the cabin for years, and now that I had them, I knew exactly where I wanted to hang them. There was no other place for them to go but up above our fireplace, over the mantle in the middle of the rock covered chimney. It was a placement that would make Ralph Lauren and Joanna Gaines swoon.
I asked Tom if he would be able to hang them there, and he said that he thought he could.
I began to imagine those long desired antlers in their new home, with a fire blazing and candles glowing on the mantle.
A couple of months passed and the antlers hung out in our laundry room. I knew my husband had a lot on his plate, so wasn’t worried that they wouldn’t eventually find their way onto the rock. It never occurred to me that Tom might have a different opinion. Until one Sunday morning over coffee when I asked him if he thought he could get them up that day. After a long pause, he finally told me he didn’t like the spot I had chosen, and he didn’t want to hang them there. What? He’d never shared that with me in all the conversations we’d had about the antlers. I was frustrated and mad, especially since I’d spent so much time imagining them up there, and I wasn’t going to give up the fight easily. Neither however, was he. He suggested some of the areas he’d thought of, none of which (of course) were acceptable to me. We were at loggerheads, and the antlers were still in the laundry room.
Somewhere along the way I remembered a therapist we’d worked with, and here’s what she would have had to say. I don’t care about the antlers or where you hang them. Hang them anywhere you want. Upside down in the bathroom, over your bed, on the rock fireplace, or inside your closet. What I do care about, is once those antlers are up, are you two better as a couple or not? Do you understand and respect one another more, or not. Are you closer and more intimately connected, or not?
It’s not about the antlers.
As much as I didn’t want to admit it, our relationship was more important than those silly antlers. Once we each let go of having to have it our way, we found an even better (of course) spot for the antlers. Tom hung them today, and I love them right where they are. We both do.
When it comes to love, it’s not about the antlers.