Love and the Electric Tea Kettle

I meant to post this article for Valentine’s Day, but my attention was too glued to the whole pandemic that was just unfolding. This story was picked up for publication in both an online magazine and a traditional one and I was so excited to finally be able to share it here. But February 14th came and went and then I thought it was too late.

But as I was preparing berries for breakfast this morning, purple blueberry juice running down my fingers, my sweet husband couldn’t resist taking “unfair advantage” (as we call these situations in our house!) to playfully squeeze and tickle and tease—and tell me how much he loves me. And I realized, “Is it ever ‘too late’ to talk about love?” Having just celebrated our 38th wedding anniversary in June, I say no. It’s not too late at all. In fact, with all that’s going on in the world, it’s just the right time. It’s time for lots of love. So here goes.

Love and the Electric Tea Kettle

My poor old tea kettle had finally kicked the bucket. I walked into the kitchen one morning and found water covering the stove top. It had whistled its last whistle. But I knew one thing for sure. I didn’t want a new electric one to replace it.

With all kinds of electrical gadgets, TVs and now even computers adorning kitchens, I was determined to keep at least one thing that embodied for me a slower, gentler, less complicated era—a simple, stove-top tea kettle. Besides, we didn’t have room on the counter anyway.

There was just one problem. My husband really wanted one.

After a trip to visit his sister, he came home raving about electric kettles.

“They cut the boiling time in half and don’t heat up the whole kitchen!” he enthused.

Since we live in Florida, he thought this was a real plus in their favor. But I couldn’t be persuaded. I’d rather die of heat exhaustion before I cluttered up my counter.

However, since I hadn’t found the exact kettle I wanted yet, I began using a small pan. What a mess. It poured everywhere except in the cup, left hard-water stains on the interior and seemed to take forever to boil. The longer the situation went on, the more frustrated I became. Why couldn’t I find the kettle I wanted?

Philippians 2:4 gave me the answer one day. “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

I realized I wasn’t doing that at all. I hadn’t really considered my husband’s interests or even cared. And I knew I needed to. I needed to want the kettle that my husband wanted. Isn’t that how love is supposed to work? And isn’t that how it worked when we first got married? We actually enjoyed wanting what the other one wanted, not because we really wanted it ourselves, but because we loved them and they wanted it.

I realized this was an opportunity to give my husband the gift he had so often given me—the gift of wanting what the other wants.

So early the next Saturday, I said, “You know what? I think we do need an electric tea kettle. You want to go help me pick one out?”

I wish you could have seen the look on my husband’s face as he nearly jumped out of bed. He couldn’t get ready fast enough!

But it turns out God had been waiting for this very change of heart to give me something much more than just a tea kettle.

We soon found one that we liked. It was even on sale. But I would have been willing to pay much more for the special light it brought to my husband’s eyes that day. As he squeezed my hand and led me excitedly through the store toward the kitchen wares, that light clearly said,

“This is my wife and I love her. She cares deeply about every detail of my life—even tea kettles.

Yes, I would have paid dearly for the priceless gift that seeing those thoughts gave me.

And surprise, surprise—there was room on the counter after all, without looking cluttered.

Imagine that.

Now I’m the one raving about how fast the water boils and also, about the filter which keeps all the hard water “gunk” out the cup. Had I known about the totally clear tea I could have been drinking all along, I would have gotten an electric one years ago.

But I’m raving even more about the God who loves us too much to stop working in our hearts. 

Sometimes, we just don’t know what we’re missing by wanting what we want. We think that what we want is the best choice and it will make everything good and right and better. But often our choices are actually settling for so much less. I’m very grateful that God didn’t allow me to settle for what I thought I wanted.

Now as I pour another steaming cup of tea and set the kettle back in place, I know I always want to make room on the counter of my life for what God wants to put there—a wonderful blessing that I may be resisting.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways …” Isaiah 55:8

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