Perspective and the Hairy Grease Monster.

Do you ever clean the top of your refrigerator? Does the top of your fridge ever even cross your mind? If, right now, you’re thinking ‘What kind of idiot wastes time cleaning where nobody can see?’, I am in 100% agreement.

However, if you are thinking ‘Well, of course I clean above my fridge, what kind of pig wouldn’t?’, then, you and I?, um yeeeah, we’re not friends. You should go be friends with my husband, El Chupacabra, in fact, maybe you should marry him. And then, the two of you can live happily ever after, just as soon as that gooey layer of dirty, fuzzy, greasy sludge (which has accumulated by some mysterious act of precipitation that actually causes it to rain olive oil and dog hair right on top of your Frigidaire) has been laboriously scraped off with a metal spatula.
I wish you both the best… really, I do…

Okay. You do know I’m not serious, right? I would never give my man up! Especially not to some Martha Stewart wannabe, neat-freak. I need him. Seriously, I need him. And, yes, I do mean that in the most pathetic, incapable, anti-feminist, I can’t do it because I’m a girl and my identity is all wrapped up in a man (and it’s not Jesus) kind of way. I NEED him. And, I love him. I love El Chupacabra even more than I loved Corey Haim in The Lost Boys. Yes – that much! And I’m pretty sure that he kinda likes me, too. Mostly.

This is why you may be shocked to know that sometimes we absolutely cannot stand each other.

Now, usually, we have the good sense to not like each other at completely different times. So, like, when he really wants to die of a stroke every time I enter the room, I think he is just the bee’s knees -Or- When I would prefer a slow walk through an automatic car wash (the $12 Deluxe with Rocker Panel Blast and Hot Wax) to the thought of hanging out with him for those same seven minutes, he thinks that I am pretty much awesome. The beauty of this system, is that it allows one of us the opportunity to be annoyed, frustrated, bored, disappointed, or whatever, without resulting in a marital Cold War, because the other one is happy, satisfied, enjoying this marriage. Does that make sense? Some wise soul once said “The key to a long marriage is never be angry at the same time.” I can really get behind that.

But, somewhere along the line, our cycle has shifted. Instead of skating through life on opposite ends of the ups and downs, we have found ourselves either up, or down together. It’s a little bit like we’ve become adolescent twin-sisters. And once a month we are ready to claw each others eyes out.

I think this has something to do with us being missionaries.

If you’ve ever met a missionary, you probably already know that the word “missionary” is almost synonymous with “douchebag”…almost. BUT, we have met and gotten to know enough really genuine, cool people who are currently serving in missions to be able to say with integrity that this stereotype will soon be meeting it’s end. But, my point is that I don’t think our “problem” is a result of our occupation, in itself, but more a result of living under the pressures of full-time ministry, foreign culture, financial strain, and all sorts of other stresses that we didn’t have before and are still a bit unaccustomed to. We have come to find out that, basically, every area of life that you suck at will be intensified on the mission-field. Nice, huh. And one of the things we suck at the most is understanding each others perspective.

I tell you what, perspective is one of those things that can mess. you. up!

See, from my perspective, it would be a waste of time to clean the top of the fridge. No one can see the top of the fridge!….except…for El Chupacabra, who is 6′ 6″. I know – what a freak, right? Totally not my fault that HE is abnormally large. But, he is. And because he is, his view of the world is drrraaaastically different than mine.

So much of our junk, lately, has been about us being two very different people, who love each other intensely, but are having a really hard time appreciating each others perspective. Ironically, we spend all day trying to do that with our Costa Rican friends, neighbors, and co-workers. I am constantly trying to see the world through the lens of Central America, always trying to figure out the hows and whys of the way things are done. And even when I’m not able to understand it because I would do such-and-such so very differently, even when I think something is downright stupid, I play along. I respect that this is what I need to do to be a part of this place, to fit right, and to meet the needs of the people I am trying so hard to love.

But sometimes I forget to do the same at home. I forget to take into account that our perspectives could not differ more, El Chupacabras and mine, and that because of not just height, but gender, childhood, education, experience, and even natural gifts and talents, we have differing points of view, and hugely different hopes and needs. And instead of respecting those differences and playing along in an effort to fit right in his life, I try really hard to make him see it my way. Either that, or, I don’t do anything, I just sigh and roll my eyes a lot. (Here’s a little something I’ve picked up over the years: If you want your spouse to love you, or even like you an eensy-weensy bit, do NOT roll yours eyes at them when either of you are, for real, mad! Oh, and don’t flip them off behind their back either, because one day they’ll see your reflection in the TV or something and it will be baaaad!)

I cannot see that weird gunk growing above the freezer. And because I can’t see it, I don’t really have any need or desire to take care of it. But. I have to consider that every time El Chupacabra goes to the fridge for a snack (usually while I am making dinner – but that’s a ‘my perspective’ thing, so never mind) he comes face to face with that nasty layer of grossness. And, in the end, I really really really, more than anything else on this planet, want for El Chupacabra to be comfortable in his home, with me, and to feel loved and appreciated, to know that he is valued beyond words, and that an effort is being made to see things his way. And, also, to not feel like every time he walks into the kitchen he’s about to be eaten by a hideous monster made of fried chicken grease and dead moths.

So, it looks like I’m gonna have to pull out a step ladder every once in while and take in the world from a different altitude. Ya know? See things another way. To do more to meet the needs of this truly amazing man. A man who’s perspective, who’s view of the world, and God, and our place in all of it, has changed me and blessed me in ways I could never have imagined, never dreamed, never wished for. Yeah, he is that awesome, so go ahead, be a little jealous. I don’t mind a bit.

Oh yeah, and in case you are, like, a dumby, or a moron, or something – I’m not judging, just saying: There has never been any mention in our house of the top of the fridge – that is merely a metaphor for much bigger, more important, and personal things. Get it? Huh….huh?? Pretty clever, huh.



  1. Kirk on November 11, 2009 at 1:01 am

    El Chupa is a very lucky man to be so loved

  2. Missionaries in La Ceiba, Honduras on November 11, 2009 at 6:53 am

    ah the top of the frig – you had me going – because I DO know your man – and the fact that he could possibly see on top of the frig is a true reality. Fact of the matter – I keep my pen on top of the frig for those items I need to write down to buy at the store – and so I stand on my tip toes to get that pen each time – and I do indeed see the top of my frig. It's quite disgusting. I need to clean it. And it's oh so true about everything being so much "larger" on the mission field – all the eye rolling must be put aside 🙂 We encounter the same thing – ah the joys of the life we live 🙂

  3. Anonymous on November 11, 2009 at 11:24 am

    I say put the top of the fridge on El Chupa's honey do list. Every time he notices the dust have him wipe it down. Problem solved. Although, your solution is much more loving and Christ like. 😉


  4. Izzy on July 20, 2010 at 9:14 am

    "Once a month we are ready to claw each others eyes out.

    I think this has something to do with us being missionaries."

    Once a month, huh? Oh yeah, missionaries… riiiiight… ;]

  5. Susie on July 22, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    Jamie, thanks for this post. Really appreciate it.

  6. Meg on January 12, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    Sorry for the hideously late comment — Colorado decided to come visit me here in Tennessee this week, so I'm cocooning and catching up on your archives at long last.

    After you get the top of your fridge all nice and clean, tape sheets of wax paper on the top (masking tape is what I have to use). When the wax paper gets disgusting, just throw it away and put new sheets down. Been doing this for years 🙂 Waaaay better than scrubbing and using cleaner!

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